Ring Ring… the phone rings and your heart sinks when you realise it’s another Withheld number. This is the umpteenth call today and the caller has cottoned onto the fact you have blocked their number and tried to cut off all communication. There is a click and the answerphone picks up, you hear the same mundane tone that has left dozens of messages stating they are not going to give up calling. You wince and a cold shiver runs up your spine.
Funnily enough that is the only thing you have heard them say that you actually believe. You look at the clock and realise it has been exactly an hour since the last call, this constant barrage is never ending yet isn’t as bad as the 6 calls in 15 minutes the previous night.
The phone rings yet again, you jump at the unexpected break in the silence of your house … this time it’s one of your best friends telling you to do what you have been mulling over… call the police! They won’t take this seriously you say, surely someone calling constantly wanting to talk in a non-threatening way can only be classed as a nuisance? Your friend simply tells you, No hun, what you are experiencing is harassment and it’s not right.
Not wanting to overreact you agree to call the police if you receive another call, inevitably it comes as you are still on the phone to your friend and you calmly say you will call her back and it’s time the police were called.
All your details are taken and you are informed police officers will be sent out to see you. In the meantime a little detective work between friends unearths information you wish you hadn’t found. The caller has previous for stalking and harassment. As the panic rises, the tears start rolling down your cheeks and you heave great big sighs, this is the first panic attack in years and you cannot make it stop. Reading the article you came across is making your blood run cold and suddenly your phone is ringing and texts are coming through as friends, also reading the article, are now beginning to panic even more. The caller stalked their “victims” and tried to jump off a building with one… the words “Holy Crap” slide off your tongue as the air is turned blue with friends reacting to the situation.
The police turn up, meat wagon and all. Very discreet you say as you open to the door to two men in uniform who instantly put you at ease, they are here to help. Sat in the lounge you recall all that has happened, from the very beginning and play the messages back to the police. After checking the caller’s identity and police records they inform you that you have done the right thing by calling them and not answering the phone. If you answer the phone even to tell the caller to F-off it will still give them hope, they say. As a “victim”, they continue… Sorry, you reply, informing them you are not a victim, just very unfortunate. They proceed to inform you how serious this could be and what could possibly happen and what options are there. This still all feels very surreal as you sit in your lounge, staring at police officers talking about prison sentences, asking yourself how the hell this has all happened!
One of the officer’s contacts the caller and tells them to stop the tirade of calls and to break off all contact as this is a final warning. The officer handles the call masterfully well and you cannot help but feel a huge sense of relief. Hopefully this is now over! As the police officers leave, berating you for wishing them a quiet night, you close the door and finally breathe again.
Over the next couple of hours the phone remains silent, albeit only your friends call and text inviting you over to stay for the night. You simply reply Thank you but no, because then that will make me the victim.
Any form of stalking or harassment is a crime and should be reported to the police with immediate effect. Do not delay and hold out for ‘the next time it happens’ as it inevitably will and it is best to nip it in the bud as soon as possible. Stalking or harassment can happen in any shape or form and can happen to anyone. It can start as a few text messages, phone calls, emails etc yet develops into something that makes you feel very uncomfortable. Make sure you keep friends in the loop of what is happening and keep them involved as much as possible, just having a friendly voice on the end of the phone is enough to reassure you.
For further help call the National Stalking Helpline on 0300 636 0300 or visit National Stalking Helpline for further advice.