New Stalking Awareness Campaign Launched

8th November 2016

A stalking victim who was shot by her estranged husband joined the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Gwent today to launch a new national campaign and film aimed at highlighting the danger posed by men who stalk their ex-partners.

Funded and supported by Gwent PCC Ian Johnston and officially launched at the Connect Gwent victims' hub in Blackwood today, #TroubleWithAnEx is a new national campaign which is being run by the Network for Surviving Stalking charity.

The campaign includes a 20 minute educational film under the same title which features the story of 44 year old Rachel Williams who was shot by her estranged husband Darren at her hairdressing salon in Newport just six weeks after they split up. Rachel shared her experiences at the launch of the campaign and the first screening of the film which was attended by representatives from a range of organisations that provide support to victims of crime and vulnerable people.

The #TroubleWithAnEx film has been produced by Jane Harvey from the Network for Surviving Stalking charity and highlights the warning signs often missed by women who have left an abusive relationship. The film aims to educate potential victims and their families so that they can identify obsessive stalking behaviour as soon as possible and seek appropriate help. The campaign is accompanied by downloadable and printable information leaflets.

Gwent police collaborated on the production of the film and a specific training version for police officers and staff, including first responders and call handlers who provide support for victims, has been produced. The film is being piloted within Gwent Police and will be distributed to all UK forces.

Explaining the importance of raising awareness, Rachel Williams, who has since remarried, said: "After I left, Darren bombarded me with texts, followed me and used to sit outside my workplace but I didn't recognise this as stalking. He'd always been jealous, throughout our eighteen years together so for me, it was just more of the same controlling behaviour. I just thought of stalking as something carried out by a weirdo peering out from the bushes with binoculars - not your jealous ex you're trying to get rid of. My advice is to make sure you leave an abusive relationship safely. You become really high-risk when you leave a perpetrator and you have to seek help because that's when it escalates."

Highlighting the ethos behind the campaign and the production of the film, Jane Harvey from the Network for Surviving Stalking charity, said: "Spotting stalking is key to preventing domestic homicide. Many women killed or attacked by their ex-partner will have been stalked in the days, weeks and months beforehand. Like Rachel, they often don't recognise this obsessive behaviour as being against the law. In fact, stalking carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.

Women put up with stalking from their ex-partner for many different reasons. They might not report him because they don't want to upset him further; especially if they have children together, or perhaps they're hoping he'll give up and move on with his life. But anyone whose ex is hassling, pestering or following them - online or in the real world - needs to take it seriously and get help."

The campaign and the film have been funded through Gwent PCC Ian Johnston's Partnership Fund which awards cash seized from criminals to support projects which have a positive impact on their community.

Gwent PCC Ian Johnston, said: "I have been very clear from the outset that we must put victims at the heart of everything we do and I am pleased to have continuously developed my commitment in this area. Statistically, women are far more likely than men to be killed by partners or ex-partners and recognising stalking is key to protecting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities from some of the most dangerous. I was delighted to fund this project which has used the ill-gotten gains of criminals to educate potential victims and their families about obsessive stalking behaviour. I am also pleased that Gwent Police collaborated on the production of this film and is now using it to train all police officers and staff, including first responders and call handlers. Everyone - not just domestic violence specialists needs to be able to recognise stalking."

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