The University of Huddersfield has been supporting National Stalking Awareness Week with a marketplace where it played host to a number of local agencies to help raise awareness of stalking.

National Stalking Awareness Week was first marked in 2011, and was established by the National Stalking Consortium and includes The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, who run the National Stalking Helpline. The theme for #NSAW23 is ‘Standing against stalking: supporting young people.’

Agencies working in Kirklees who offer support to people who have been victims of stalking, domestic violence and abuse, sexual violence and honour-based violence came together on the campus to offer information to students and staff about their services and raising awareness about stalking.

Many of the services who attended the event are partners in the action research project “Ten years on: stalking in Kirklees”, currently being carried out by researchers at the Secure Societies Institute. Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the project assesses the policing of stalking and support for victims in Kirklees.

Partner organisations included Pennine Domestic Abuse Partnership, West Yorkshire Independent Stalking Advocacy Service (West Yorkshire Victim Support), the National Stalking Helpline, The Suzy Lamplugh Trust and Paladin, an anti-stalking awareness and support group.
In an addition to the wider project, West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit have funded the researchers to carry out an online survey of young people’s awareness and understanding of stalking.

Young people aged 16-24 who live, study or work in Kirklees are being asked to take part in a short anonymous, online stalking awareness survey. All who take part can also enter a free prize draw.

Dr Rosie Campbell, principal investigator co-ordinating the research, said: “This year’s theme for #NSAW2023, supporting young people, reminds us that young people experience stalking.

“The majority of stalking now involves an element of cyberstalking behaviours. Young people’s lives are increasingly shaped by digital and online technology and it is important they are informed that stalking is a serious crime and about what constitutes cyberstalking, so they can identify stalking and seek support.

“A lot of stalking is carried out by current or former intimate partners, as part of wider patterns of domestic violence and abuse.

“Young women have described how they were subject to a range of cyberstalking as part of wider controlling and abusive relationships.

“Their stalkers could access their phones and other devices and, in some cases, had access to their online social media, bank accounts and other passwords.

“Young women found themselves effectively under surveillance by their intimate partners or former partners who then ‘gaslit’ them when they began to suspect this, calling them paranoid and blaming the woman’s mental health.”