Stalking victim says she was let down by the system
FOR three years 'Jennifer' has been stalked by a man she had a brief relationship with during a work placement.
When her then boyfriend became obsessive and violent she ended the relationship.
"I did the right thing at the time, what I'd have advised my friends to do - I told him it was over," she said.
At first she said she tried to ignore the harassing behaviour, waiting months before finally reporting it to police.
"I stopped socialising in certain places, changed my phone number, I even changed jobs.
"That just seemed to anger him more. The more I tried to avoid him the worse he got - he would ring 150/200 times a day, I had to keep my phone on silent and was missing important calls. My dad was rushed to hospital and my family couldn't even get through because my phone was constantly engaged.
"When I changed my number it took less than two weeks for him to get my new one.
"He sent hundreds of emails and Facebook messages to me, my work colleagues, my family and friends, making really graphic, sexual allegations about me.
"He rang social services and said my sister's children were being abused by my new boyfriend, I thought things couldn't get any worse after that but then he started making false allegations to police, claiming I was harassing him.
"He faked threatening messages and claimed I'd assaulted him. It meant I had to go and be questioned by police with a solicitor in tow - it was easy to prove he'd made it up, but it was still humiliating, I cried for days.
"By now I wasn't sleeping or eating properly, my hair started to fall out with stress. I was afraid to leave the house and kept the blinds closed day and night.
"The response from the police depended on what officer you got. Some were great; others behaved as though I was wasting their time, or that was my own fault.
"He constantly lied, even when he was caught on CCTV he still denied it. The police investigations and court case took ages because he would never admit his behaviour.
"It went on for so long I was actually wishing he would do something - maybe I'd survive,maybe I wouldn't, but at least people would know I was telling the truth."
Jennifer's stalker was convicted under harassment legislation and received a suspended sentence, but she says he has since re-offended.
"If we had the same stalking laws as elsewhere this would never have gone on as long as it did. I don't think I'll ever feel safe because the current system does nothing to help people in my position."