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There can be no doubt that stalking has a huge impact on the mental and physical health of the victim.

My case was the test case for Grievous Bodily Harm (Psychiatric Injury) in 1996. It was the first time it was acknowledged that stalking had an impact on my health, despite starting in 1992, even though my stalker had not physically attacked me.

12 months previously, we had been in court with the same charge, which failed. It was felt that it was my emotional state of mind that was the problem! He literally walked out of court behind us, a free man. However, the stalking never stopped and so the Judge in March 1996 felt that there was evidence that, despite being told his harassment was having an impact on my life, he continued. My stalker had written a letter to me outlining what I was having to do; look from the porch to check for him, check the letterbox, and so on… The letter was read out in court and proved he knew what he was doing; trying to destroy me psychologically.

Once that test case was successful, people asked why I was campaigning for a specific stalking law. My answer was that, it should not be that a victim has to become damaged psychologically before a charge can be brought. Hence we campaigned and got the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, then an amended version in 2012 after a Parliamentary Inquiry when the word ‘stalking’ became a legal term rather than a colloquial one for harassment, which was causing confusion.  Serious cases, like mine and others were put in the same category as a hedge dispute which is why we really needed it separating; this was about murder prevention.

Despite being under a psychiatrist for the case, it wasn’t until 2010, whilst having counselling locally, researching it myself and asking my GP to refer me, that I was eventually diagnosed with severe PTSD, severe anxiety and moderate depression.

There is still so much work to do though, it was a fight to get treatment, even an assessment; initially I was told that, despite being the test case for psychological GBH, I was ‘not appropriate’ for the Traumatic Stress Service. Eventually they allowed me to have treatment.

Whilst on the Home Office Victims Advisory Panel 2003-2006, it was difficult to engage the Department of Health in understanding that victims of crime are damaged and need support.  I really hope things are improving.

If you work in the health sector, please spread the word and help your colleagues understand that it is vital for victims get the help they need – reduce the damage psychological and physical and, ultimately, save lives.

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It’s national stalking awareness week in the UK once again. An opportunity for those who know and understand this crime to spread the word and help those who aren’t aware of the huge impact stalking has, and the potential for what could happen. In fact, EVERY week should be awareness week, in order to save lives, don’t wait for one week a year – keep it up!

Please book onto the conference (click below) taking place tomorrow about stalking and public health.

National Stalking Awareness Week Conference

See http://www.suzylamplugh.org for more information on this week’s activities and all the work being done.