Are you a victim of stalking?

Some of the things stalkers do:*

  • Hang around outside your home or workplace
  • Call at your home or workplace
  • Send or leave materials or unwanted gifts
  • Send unwanted letters, messages, texts and e-mails
  • Continue to contact you after you have told them not to
  • Contact your friends, family or work colleagues
  • Repeatedly mention you directly or indirectly in social media posts
  • Follow you and show up wherever you go
  • Spy on you and track your movements
  • Monitor you on-line
  • Monitor your phone
  • Hack into your social media
  • Threaten to kill themselves because they can't live without you
  • Make up stories to damage your reputation
  • Make false complaints to agencies
  • Spread harmful rumours about you
  • Threaten to disclose private sexual photographs
  • Break into your home and interfere with or damage your property
  • Physically assault or threaten you or those close to you, including pets

  • If one or more of these things have happened, then you may be a victim of stalking.

    Stalkers are controlling, fixated, and obsessive.

    Stalkers are not only distressing—they can be dangerous!


    What to do

    If you are being stalked, or think you may be being stalked, or you are worried about someone's obsessive or controlling behaviour

    First and foremost, call 101 to contact the police (or, in an emergency, 999). Stalking is a crime: every force has specialists who can advise you and take appropriate action if needed.

    Advice over the phone

    • The best thing is to phone the Suzy Lamplugh Trust's National Stalking Helpline: 0808 802 0300.† They are open weekdays between 09:30 and 16:00, except Wednesdays when they open at 13:00.
    • Paladin’s National Stalking Advocacy Service also provides support, advice and advocacy to high-risk victims of stalking. Paladin may be contacted directly on 0203 866 4107, or contacted by email. If you’re a young person, 16–25 years old, and think you are experiencing stalking, Paladin have a specialist young person’s ISAC (Independent Stalking Advocate) who can talk to you about this.
    • Various parts of the UK also have local support services.
    • Stalking is always distressing, and another option available in Wales and some parts of England (e.g. Cambridgeshire and Essex) is 111-option-2, for NHS mental health services.
    Stalking Support Services


    Advice on-line

    The main thing to know is that you won’t necessarily find the best advice by googling “stalking”. We recommend the following web pages:


    If you have done some of these things yourself, or know someone who has

    If you have done some of these things, you may already be committing the offence of stalking and YOU NEED TO STOP NOW! Stalking is an obsession and it is illegal—you can face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

    • You may find it helpful to contact Respect, who can provide help to those offenders who recognise that they have a problem. The number is 0808 802 4040† and the line is open Monday–Friday between 09:00 and 17:00.


    If you think you might have been hacked

    • The North-East Business Resilience Centre (NEBRC) and collaborators have recently produced a very detailed and comprehensive booklet about how to keep yourself and your family safe online.

    View/download a copy here [4.2 Mb]

    What should you do if you think your phone might have been hacked? We've put together a few guidelines here.

    How can they hack you? 

    There are several different ways:

    1. If you've logged into an account on a device they own and forgotten to log out 
    2. If you've logged into an account on a device they own and you've since changed your password but you haven't told the application to log out all devices currently logged in 
    3. If you've told them your password / your password is easy to guess / your password is the same for lots of other things and they've found it out / your password is written down somewhere 
    4. If they've put some spy software on your device which records everything you type and this is used to capture passwords. 
    5. In very rare cases professional hackers, security people (MI5, MI6, GCHQ, or advanced coders) can hack into your devices or the servers hosting these applications

    What should you do? 

    1. Contact the police
    2. Make sure the App (Facebook, WhatsApp etc)  is up to date (this removes security vulnerabilities): iPhone App Store updates; Android Play Store Updates
    3. Make sure the operating system of your device is up to date (this removes security vulnerabilities): iPhone, Android
    4. Ensure your device has a passcode (and make sure no one else knows it and it’s not easy to guess): iPhoneAndroid 
    5. Ensure your device auto locks after a minute or two (this can seem like a pain but it helps secure your device): iPhone, Android.
    6. Always lock your device if you leave it somewhere
      • Always require a passcode to download apps (in case someone downloads spyware while you are away): App Store lockPlay Store lock. Note this is usually the same passcode to access your phone, so keep that to yourself

    7. If someone has had access to your device:
      • backup your photos and other personal data, THEN
      • reset everything and only install the Apps you know about and want on the device,
      • change all passwords, AND
      • log out of all devices associated with the accounts used: examples for WhatsApp, Facebook
    8. Enable 2-step (sometimes called 2-factor) authentication. This means having a trusted device such as a Mobile, Tablet or PC which will get a code when a new device tries to log in for the first time: WhatsApp 2-step verification; Facebook 2-factor authentication
    9. Change your password every month AND log out of all devices (see above). Choose a different messaging tool (for example: TelegramSignalChatSecure; Wickr Me; Silence; SilentPhone) and don't advertise the fact widely 
    10. If you are still really worried, buy another phone (like a pay-as-you-go) and do not share the number widely. Create a new account (WhatsApp for example) and message on a totally different account and phone. 


    * This is based upon the Trust’s “Are you a victim of stalking?” leaflet which we distribute at meetings and public events. We gratefully acknowledge suggestions and advice from collaborators in the National Stalking Consortium, police and CPS.

    † Calls to 0808 80 numbers are free to call from landlines and mobile phones within the UK and do not appear on itemised bills.

    Please note that the Alice Ruggles Trust does not provide first-hand advice or advocacy in individual cases; other charities, as listed above, exist for this.