Would the police suggest you get hit to get evidence of abuse?
Are the police recommending that victims of abuse should allow abusers to continue to have access to them?
Recently, two people who advise victims of stalking disagreed with my view that victims should block abusers. They claim the police want victims to continue to allow their abuser to be able to contact them via social media, so victims can gather more evidence of abuse.
This is poor advice. You wouldn’t recommend that a victim of physical abuse should encourage an abuser back into their home on the basis if they are hit again, it will provide evidence.
Nor should victims subject themselves to the risks and harm associated with an abuser continuing to use social media to track, monitor, intimidate or humiliate them. Social media can reinforce obsessive, abusive behaviour and we know that social media posts can trigger a reaction leading to serious assaults and even murder.
Lisa Beverley, Sarah Richardson, Hayley Jones, Leanne Mc Nuff and Lorna Smith are five women whose Facebook activity contributed to a fatal attack.
Stalking provides numerous opportunities for evidence gathering. The police can request data from platforms and mobile providers for evidence of abuse. They can access financial records and interview witnesses. Victims do need to keep existing evidence, but they don’t need to create opportunities for abuse, in order to gather additional evidence.
The unfortunate reality is that few cases of stalking are in fact investigated and prosecuted. The emotional trauma of gathering ongoing evidence, or stalking the stalker, is significant. Especially, when the evidence doesn’t lead to police or CPS action - victims are left devastated.
The key objective in dealing with stalking is to safeguard the victim. That includes reducing access to the victim, both physically and digitally. Blocking is just one element in a plan to help reduce risks.