Stalking and Harassment

Stalking is persistent and unwanted attention from someone that makes you feel intruded upon and harassed. It is not a single one-off incident.

The person’s behaviour can make you feel alarmed or distressed, or even afraid they might harm you. The behaviour could include things like hanging around outside your house or work, following you, or continually contacting you by phone, letter, email, text, or online. It could involve electronic surveillance.

Harassment, when someone intentionally pesters and intrudes on you, is also intimidating. They can make you fear for your safety, or the safety of your family, whānau, friends, or even pets. They may make direct or indirect threats of violence. Online bullying is also a type of harassment.

Stalking and harassment may also be part of a family violence and harm situation. You might like to visit our family violence and harm support section, or our sexual violence support section.

Sometimes the problem can gradually build, and it can take a while before you realise what is happening. Unfortunately, it can sometimes go on for a long period of time. Ongoing stalking and harassment can significantly affect your daily life, with consequences for your physical and mental health and wellbeing, and your sense of safety. Getting police help and advice, and the support of others close to you, is vital.

If you have been a victim of stalking or harassment you are not to blame for this crime, the perpetrator is.

Our Support Workers are available to support you personally, or as a family or whānau, for as long as you need us. You can call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected with a Support Worker.

Report the crime to police
Your safety is their highest priority. Police can give you advice on how to respond to this situation and keep safe. They will advise what they can do to investigate and find the perpetrator.

  • Call police on 111 immediately if you think you are in immediate danger of harm, or someone else is.

  • Call the police non-emergency number on 105 or go online to report what has happened to you or others you know.

  • Go to your local police station and  talk with the person at the front counter. They will advise you about what to do. You may be able to speak to an officer straight away. Consider taking a support person with you.  Find your closest Police Station here.

If others have witnessed what happened
Ask for their contact details and pass these onto police.

Give a statement
The police may interview you and ask you to give a statement to assist their investigations. Your information could help in a criminal court case later.

  • A police officer will write down or record what happened. After a traumatic experience, people’s memories can be a bit foggy or uncertain. Things that happened can seem like a blur. Take your time and do your best.
     
  • What you say must be true. Giving police false information is a serious matter.
     
  • You’ll be asked to read it through to check it’s correct and sign to confirm it’s an accurate report of what happened to you.

Support the investigation
Police may investigate the case. This can take some time and they may need to interview you again. They will keep you updated on progress of their investigation.

Keep a record
Note down the dates, times, and places of any incidents and include information about any witnesses who can confirm what happened.

Keeping copies of things sent to you
This includes letters, text messages and emails. Take screenshots of other online messages, eg. social media.

If there is a court case
Police will be in touch with you to talk about the court process and invite you to give a Victim Impact Statement. They will explain what giving evidence will involve if you are to be a court witness. Police will also let you know when and where you may be needed to give your evidence. Sometimes there can be delays in a court case, so they will let you know if that happens.

Ask for emotional and practical support from others close to you
Tell those you trust, especially adults living with you. This can help you to feel safer and less alone. They could come with you to events or keep you company at times when you’re highly anxious. They may also independently witness evidence of the stalking and harassment which they can talk about to police.

If you are being troubled at work
Tell your manager and employer and ask for their assistance. If they do not assist you, consider speaking directly to whoever is responsible for HR employment matters, your union, or trusted colleagues, so they can support you and potentially witness what is happening.

Find ways to increase confidence in your personal safety
Use the tips police suggest in their booklet  Keep Safe, Feel Safe Taking these actions can help increase confidence in your personal safety and security, and that of your family and whānau.

Give yourself time to recover after this traumatic experience
See below for some common reactions and ways to cope with them.

Everyone’s different and will react in their own way
Victims of stalking and harassment can experience many different strong emotions, including fear and anxiety, jumpiness and being constantly on alert, frustration and anger, helplessness, distress, low self-esteem, and a sense of being alone and isolated.

You may also experience traumatic stress reactions, such as a racing heart, difficulty breathing, shaking, nausea, upset stomach, body aches, headaches, trouble sleeping, or appetite changes. You might experience panic attacks as you deal with high levels of ongoing anxiety. You might have some disturbing memories, nightmares, or flashbacks about the incidents, as if they’re happening again.

Victims of this crime can find their daily lives are disrupted, both socially and at home.

You may feel you can’t go out to do things you normally would. This can be especially hard if you feel no one believes you. You might even start questioning yourself – Is this actually happening to me? It is a highly stressful situation to be in.

These kinds of reactions are all normal
However, they might affect you more, and for longer, than you expect. This situation is not your fault. The perpetrator is to blame. See some tips below for coping with your reactions.

Looking after yourself is important
After the stress of what’s happened, make time to take care of yourself. Eat healthy food. Drink enough water. Keep up routines and get good rest and sleep, as best you can. Do some simple exercise. Take some slow, deep breaths. Spend time with people you can relax with, or with a pet. Spend time in nature. If you find keeping busy helps, find useful tasks to do. See a doctor if you’re unwell, extremely anxious, or are having difficulty sleeping. Draw on any cultural or spiritual beliefs you may have. Accept caring offers from others if that would help.

Flashbacks
A flashback feels as though you’re back in the middle of your traumatic experience or reliving some aspect of it. This can be in vivid detail and during a flashback it can be difficult and confusing to connect back to the present and to what is real.  To better understand flashbacks and ways to manage them, see our information sheet Dealing with Flashbacks.

Talk about what happened
When you’re ready, talk to someone you trust about what happened, such as a trusted member of your family, whānau, a close friend, your doctor, a counsellor, a psychologist, a respected elder, rangatira, or a Victim Support Worker. If any aspects of your story are particularly disturbing, speak to a professional. Talking honestly about how things are can help release the stress and emotional tension inside.

More tips for coping with your reactions
To understand more about trauma and grief, and to learn ways to manage your reactions, please see our information sheets Coping with Trauma and When you are Grieving.

Your reactions are normal responses to a traumatic event
Though it may not feel like it now, they will gradually lessen in the weeks and months to come.

If they don’t lessen or get worse and disrupt your daily life and work, it is best to seek the help of a professional who has experience supporting people after trauma. Some people may develop Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). If you have concerns, see your doctor, a counsellor, a psychologist, or ask your Support Worker about help that is available to you.

If your reactions trouble you:

  • Visit your doctor. They can do a health check and support you with any ongoing issues, such as sleeplessness, anxiety, flashbacks, or depression.

  • Consider talking with a counsellor or psychologist. They can help you work through your reactions and the consequences the crime has had.

  • If you need to find a local doctor, counsellor, or psychologist, please click here.

We are here for you 24/7
Our Support Workers are available to support you personally, or as a family or whānau, for as long as you need us.  You can call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected with a Support Worker.

Our support is completely free and confidential, and available throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.

What we can offer
Our Support Workers can support you with:

  • someone to listen, talk with, and support you to cope through trauma and loss
  • help to understand your rights and make informed choices
  • information and help to answer your questions
  • help to access local support services and counselling to suit your situation
  • someone to assist and support you at court trials, hearings, and dealing with police and other government agencies
  • help to prepare Victim Impact Statements and attend family group or restorative justice conferences
  • financial assistance for victims of serious crime.

We are committed to providing quality support to strengthen the mana and well-being of all those affected by stalking and harassment.

If you have English as a second language
If you require support in your first language, Victim Support can use Ezispeak to connect with an interpreter over the phone. Call us on 0800 842 846 and let us know. We will try to match you to a Support Worker who speaks your language.

Downloads

Coping with Trauma
Dealing with flashbacks
When you are Grieving