Laura Richards; founder of the Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service drew up the petition to get stalkers put on a registry and she took it to No10 yesterday!.
Having been stalked and harassed myself, I cannot stress how important this registry is. Stalking is just one behaviour that comes from the personality of someone who IS or potentially IS quite dangerous. And there is no real telling how far a stalker will go…
The likely (and very worrying) reality is that they will carry this behaviour on from woman to woman. And although the woman before might of come away without having experienced any physical attacks, they will no doubt be left with emotional scars. And unfortunately the stalker may escalate their obsession with the next woman they encounter to a stage of physical violence and sadly murder. And quite often that has been the case.
Bottom line… Stalking is a very dangerous trait! It reflects obsession, aggression, control, hatred, extreme emotions, and unpredictability.
I believe its every persons right to know who these people are and where they are, this should not be taken lightly and it is vital for our safety just as the registries for rapists are also vital for our safety. Some rapists stalk their victims and some stalkers become rapists and that is what should be taken into account.
Being stalked even on a very mild level has a huge effect on the victims. The constant fear and feeling of someone always watching, following and being anywhere at any time is extreme and traumatising. And although it can be overcome, it can also alter a persons life forever. Not to mention the effects the more aggressive/ physically/ sexually violent stalker has on a person.
There was not much support for me when I was a teenager, and if there was I certainly was not aware of it, but now more than ever there is much more the police and communities can do to help women through this experience before it escalates, before its too late, and so we can be aware of this information and aware of these dangerous individuals.
For me; I felt alone, It seemed hopeless as i felt there was no guarantee that people would come to my aid. I became scared for my family members so at times I kept quiet, I felt ashamed as if there was something I had done wrong, which is also common feeling for girls in adolescence that experience this sort of thing. And I had that constant horrid fear that the police or anyone would not reach me in time or that i would not have access to even seek any help.
So, It took a lot of courage and work for me to overcome all the things that were swirling inside of me, and all the things that were holding me back for several years from this experience, and from such a young age. But through a lot of work, i had literally transformed from a victim to an empowered woman. And becoming a martial artists and learning Wing Tsun helped me do that.
I threw myself into training and i made sure i always trained and sparred with men so that i could face my fears and overcome them, and also so that i could learn trust people again, men again, and break out of the “fear cage”.
It wasn’t natural for me either, to feel the “want” to fight back, so had to find the spark inside of me that would push me mentally to be able do just that. To push me to grow, push me to overcome it all, and without telling a soul why.. and although this spark to want to fight back is different for everyone, for me that spark was always the thought of my son and the thought of protecting him, because I only ever felt the urge to fight back when i thought of him, and not of myself.
It was an unfamiliar, yet strange and energetic energy that shook through me when i thought about protecting him, (a feeling I’m sure all parents experience when they think of their children’s safety) but for damn sure i had awoken a lioness within me:)
And after a while i was able to pull up that spark more and more naturally. Until i knew that i was mentally and physically capable to protect myself if i needed to… and i realised the beauty in balance of martial arts, to be a good person, to grow as a person, to train diligently and to have the mentality to support it all, it had changed my world… and my view of it. And then i decided to teach
But it was just last year (after 10 years of teaching) that i decided to speak about the stalking for the first time and i exposed why i really started Wing Tsun and thats coming from someone who has taught people to protect themselves for a decade, and i think that alone illustrates how much stalking can effect a person.
I thought that if people knew they would pity me or they would not see me the same, that my students might see me as a victim and might not look at me the same way, and it all seemed very negative and so i hid this part of my life from a lot of people for a very long time.
I also met other women who felt this way, as no one really wants to have people feel sorry for them and although most people will not see us this way and probably most will see us as courageous, it is still a feeling that can sit with you for quite some time.
So last year it was just time for me… and just before my master grade i decided to not feel this way anymore and to just finally let go of this fear. I realised the fact that i had overcome something like this made me even stronger and so i went and spoke about it, and quite publicly in the hope that it might encourage other women to do the same and take action to protect themselves.
After speaking about it, i was happy to learn that i had even more support and respect from my students, so from that i launched the FIGHT LIKE A GIRL WORKSHOPS and i met some wonderful inspirational women who had me struck in awe and teary eyed after hearing their stories and seeing their courage, and having them take that step and attend the workshop last year was one of the most rewarding days of my career. And at that event i was happy with my decision.. and i knew i did the right thing.
So THIS is why I am pushing so much for women to take up martial arts and launched the FIGHT LIKE A GIRL TOUR so that other women can deal with this sort of thing, and feel empowered… and this is also why I am in full support of the stalking registry.
Depending on others is not guaranteed, its an unfortunate but true reality, and even if you can it is just not enough, they might not be there all the time. But this registry will at least give us awareness and knowledge of the sort of person we may encounter so that we do not get too close or trust them. And knowing how to protect yourself and become more conscious and aware will give you even more of a chance in case the situation does escalate.
Stalking is more common than people realise and because some of the time the stalkers do not move forward to physical attacks they are not taken as seriously but this trait is not normal, and if it did not reach physical violence with the first it may do with the next. So having this registry does draw a line that stalking is 100% NOT OK on a small scale or not.
I consider myself lucky in comparison to some of the tragic stories I have read of others who didn’t come away ok, and some that were sadly killed. So for them, and those who have experienced this, had daughters, friends and family members who have experience this, or even if you simply just agree that it is the right thing to do, then lets make a stand.
And support this registry!