As part of Stalking Awareness Week and to celebrate the launch of our new resource on Reporting Stalking we checked in for a quick Q&A with Sarah who works at a local Women’s Aid service to find out how she is getting on using FollowItApp, our innovative new mobile app that supports victim-survivors of stalking to document their experience.
Very often there’s a mismatch between people’s idea of what stalking is, and what the law in Scotland has to say. Scots Law says that the crime of stalking is a course of conduct - this means an incident that takes place two or more times - that places another person in a state of fear or alarm. That means that non-criminal acts, for example sending a text message that says ‘your hair looks nice today’, become criminal and can therefore be reported when they happen twice or more and when they cause the victim to feel afraid. The above text could easily make someone feel afraid, because this is intended to let them know that they are being watched. There are no rules about who can and can’t be a stalker; it can be a friend, acquaintance, or even a total stranger, but most of the time it is a partner or ex-partner and stalking is often experienced as part of domestic abuse.
When I first got the email I quite fancied it as I was involved in a case at the time which was based around stalking, so it really captured my interest. For me, the fact that it was for the woman herself to use is brilliant, and that it is just so quick and accessible. It’s just another tool that makes it much easier, because it can be a really difficult incident type to try and record, this means you don’t have to go away and write everything down.
I signed up for the training course with a colleague from Skye - half a day's training. Louise is brilliant, she knows her stuff really well. She showed us how to use it there and then.
Anything is helpful really.
Yes, absolutely. I think stalking can often be part and parcel of abusive relationships breaking down. The stalking case I had at the time was stalking on its own, a different dynamic - he didn't want to be back in a relationship, he was just destructive in what he was doing. He wasn't stalking her to get back with her; he was stalking her just to destroy her.
The woman that I've signed up thinks it's brilliant - it's so straightforward. She even considered it for her mum to use - she was getting messages and stuff as well - and her mum's not tech savvy at all.
It's not going to be a solution or a quick fix, but it’s another tool for us. There’s also the psychology of it all, I liked it because it's not a piece of paper or loads of files reminding victim-survivors of all past incidents, once it's on the app it's recorded but they don't have to look at it again. And it's just so handy - just about everyone's got a smartphone. It can be done at the time or afterwards and it’s been built with the justice system in mind so it goes towards building a case, if that’s what the women chooses. It could be a great tool for when it comes to the court.
Have a look at it - it'll do no harm to look at it and have it on your phone to show to women who it might work for. It's a great tool and might even take some pressure off us as well in terms of workload. I’ve found it gives women a sense of empowerment because it’s in their control, and in their hands. It's for them, they manage it, the information is protected and safe. Even if they didn't want to report it, they've got it there.
If you are a worker in the field interested in piloting the app, or a woman experiencing stalking engaged with a support service please email: firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.