This year, the College is publishing a series of blog posts to mark the 16 Days of Action – an international call of action to end violence against women and girls.
Today, Ann Moulds, Founder and CEO of Action Against Stalking, talks about her journey.
Having been a victim of stalking herself, Ann campaigned tirelessly for the law in Scotland to change so that stalking became recognised as a criminal offence.
Following this, along with others, she developed the ‘Victim Impact Box’ to aid and support victims of stalking. Ayrshire College is the only college in Scotland to have this resource and supported its launch on Friday 25 November at College Development Network.
You can contact our Student Services teams or organisations like Women’s Aid if you or someone you know requires support.
In 2009, I launched the campaign Action Scotland Against Stalking (ASAS) after experiencing stalking and the poor response by the police, criminal justice system, support agencies and others around me. I was determined that stalking should be recognised as a criminal offence within Scottish Law, and to give victims a voice and a place within the criminal justice process.
Campaign ASAS quickly became a national and international campaign contributing to some major breakthroughs and ground breaking initiatives, most notably the introduction of the ‘Offence of Stalking’ sec 39 Criminal Justice & Licensing (Scot) Act 2010.
This set the blue print for England and Wales to follow suit with the introduction of the ‘Offence of Stalking’ as an amendment into the Protection of Freedoms Act (2012).
The campaign expanded to Europe and in 2011, stalking was successfully inserted into the Council of Europe’s European Convention (Istanbul Treaty) the only legally binding treaty of its kind. Ratified on 1 August 2014, it places a requirement on European member states to recognise stalking as a specific crime.
Collectively these pieces of legislation herald the transformation from a tacit acceptance of what on the surface appears to be slightly annoying behaviour, to the recognition that stalking is actually a dangerous deviant social syndrome. The legislation was giving victims a voice and a place within the criminal justice system.
Why I decided to stand up and speak out publicly
My own experience of being the victim of a long and horrendous stalking campaign highlighted the devastating impact this crime had on every aspect of my life, physically, emotionally, psychological and financially.
Behaviours that we now know as stalking which were persistent and unwanted were often ignored or dismissed by the police, support services and criminal justice authorities rendering victims like myself vulnerable and unprotected.
I was forced to engage in a system that mandated only crimes of a physical nature would be recognised as criminality. I was continually reminded that my stalker would need to attack me first before anything could be done. Despite warning signs of neatly handwritten letters and disturbing photographs – behaviours that signified a dangerous and devious unfolding sexual fantasy of bondage rape and torture that would one day be ‘his reality’.
Stalking is not physical crime, it is a psychological crime denoted by the anxiety and fear it installs into its victims. Ant physical element is purely a facet of the crime.
Due to its ongoing and threatening nature, there is no other crime as destructive as this pervasive and insidious type of criminality rendering its victims as some of the most emotionally traumatized victims of crime.
The Victim Impact Box (VIB)
There is a plethora of information on the internet offering information and advice to victims of stalking on important issues as reporting to the police and keeping safe, but as useful as this information may be, they do not help explain ‘how’ victims should go about these tasks. The Victim Impact Box aims to bridge this gap by focussing on the ‘how’ and not just the ‘why’.
Simply put this simple but highly effective toolkit will serve as an interface between the victim and the system. Its sole aim is to assist the police in the investigation of Stalking cases and other related predatory crimes whilst offering sound knowledge, advice and guidance to victims.
The Victim Impact Box’ (VIB) was developed to aid the investigation and prosecution of stalking cases, provide the necessary information to victims about stalking, what stalking is and how to recognise its attendant behaviours. It provides a step by step approach to reporting to the police, logging incidents, gathering evidence, and keeping safe through the development of a safety action plan. This will provide crucial information to the impact and disruption on the victim’s life. This information will be useful during the precognition stage of the court process and also when the case goes to court.
It has been developed incorporating the principles of a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) self-help model of care. Its structured and guided approach will help victims develop improved coping strategies, anxiety reduction techniques with the overall aim of helping them manage their situation better.
Working through each stage of the self-help materials will allow victims to process their experience on an ongoing basis, providing for clarity and understanding of their situation. This in turn will not only aid memory recall, but will help install confidence to stand as a witness should their case go to court. It will also help reduce the potential to the development of symptoms of PTSD and long-term impact.
The Victim Impact Box, provides further guidance on the importance of building the right type of support network and has been designed in such a way it forms the template for the drafting of a victim impact statement.
The Victim Impact Box was developed specifically to serve as a multi-functional resource for victims, the police, Crown Office Prosecution Services, victim support service providers, and other organisations where stalking exists.