Katie Summers was a 24 year old Mum of 4 from Manchester. Like many women, she’d been in an abusive relationship involving domestic violence. She ended the relationship and wanted to move on but her ex-partner – Brian Taylor was totally obsessed by her. He followed her; watched her; threatened and attacked her. Katie however never saw the behaviour as ‘stalking’. Tragically on 9th October 2008 Taylor carried out his threats – he went to her house and stabbed her to death.
Katie was a special woman – a much missed mother, sister and daughter. Her family are supporting our Trust Your Instinct campaign because they want lessons to be learned from her death.
Although she was terrified by Brian towards the end of her life, Katie’s family say there were early warning signs about his obsessive behaviour - even at the start of the relationship. Her sister Sarah remembers Brian being very intense straight away. She says “He made her feel very loved; bought her presents and lavished attention on her. It made Katie feel like she was important and special. Katie wasn’t used to having all the attention, so she took this as a sign of love and not a sign of someone trying to control her.”
But there was a controlling side to Brian’s behaviour – he moved her away from her friends and started to control her money. He took her mobile so she couldn’t phone anyone, he also told her no-one cared about her and that she couldn’t cope without him.
Sarah says “It was only when I realised how much control he had over her that I began to see how serious the situation was. The only way she was going to get through it was with help and support that’s when I noticed how little support was out there. “Sarah’s also convinced that Katie didn’t listen to her own instinct about Brian and for whatever reason she made excuses for him. “ I remember once when I was talking to one of her friends she said Katie had told her that she had hurt her side on a cupboard whilst trying to get out of the way of Brian trying to stab her with a knife. When I asked Katie about it she was reluctant to talk about it. The next day Katie and Brian came to my house for no reason, whilst they were at my door Katie kept complaining about banging her side. I felt like she was trying to cover up what actually happened. It became more difficult once she had children because she was afraid to ask anyone for help in case social services found out. “
Early 2008 Katie moved into her own house with the help of her family and starting to make new friends. She hoped it was going to be the fresh start she needed. Sarah remembers,” That’s when Brian made it clear he wasn’t going to give up so easily. One of the first signs of his obsessive behaviour was when he started telling all Katie’s friends she needed him, she depended on him and she couldn’t cope without him. Another sign was when she was hanging out her washing when she noticed a letter and a can of men’s deodorant under the trampoline, they both belonged to Brian. She later found out that he had been sleeping in her back garden.” Even though Brian’s behaviour was totally obsessive, Katie didn’t relate to it as ‘stalking’. Sarah wishes that her sister could have had access to information like the Trust Your Instinct ‘Stalking Quiz’. “If she’d been given help or advice about how obsessive behaviour can escalate – how vital it was that Brian’s behaviour was taken seriously – maybe it would have made a difference.”
Sarah remembers “On 4th October 2008 Katie finally felt confident enough to go out for a few drinks with some friends; this was the first time in years she had been able to go out. Brian found out and started to phone her over and over again. He also phoned me several times wanting to know where Katie was. A friend who lived across from Katie saw him waiting outside Katie’s house. He finally tracked her down at a friend’s house, they argued. The next day he followed her home and refused to leave. She phoned me and when we started to phone the police he left, this was when he stole a spare set of keys. In the early hours of the morning when Katie was asleep he used the keys he had stolen to enter her house, he slept on the couch. Before he left he stole her mobile from her bedroom as she slept. He used the phone to ring her friends to tell them to stay away from her because they were getting in the way of their relationship.”
Sarah says “One of the lessons I hope people learn is that victims need help and support because they can’t do it on their own. If your sister or friend or anyone asks you for advice or help about obsessive behaviour – please please take it seriously. I also hope that the police, social services and other organisations can work together to help build a trusting relationship with victims and that mothers like Katie shouldn’t be made to feel like it’s totally their responsibility to keep a violent man away or they could have her children taken away.”
Sarah is committed to campaigning to improve the rights of women who are stalked and who are victims of domestic violence. She urges anyone in the same situation as Katie to take the Stalking Quiz to get the bigger picture. She is desperate to see wide-reaching change.
“Through my own experience of not knowing what signs to look out for i strongly believe that the government should consider teaching about domestic violence and stalking in secondary schools.”