‘Women whose lives have been ruined by sociopathic creeps’

TV review: Stalking victims must be hyper-vigilant every hour, says Stacey Dooley

These women, and the many others like them, need to be acknowledged and supported. Photographer: Alana McVerry

These women, and the many others like them, need to be acknowledged and supported. Photographer: Alana McVerry

 

A long and frank conversation about violence against women is obviously wildly overdue. We are reminded of this fact by Stacey Dooley: Stalkers (BBC One, Wednesday), in which reporter and Strictly Come Dancing winner Stacey Dooley talks to women whose lives have been ruined by sociopathic creeps.

All the men are former partners, who refused to accept the relationship had ended – or, indeed, that a woman could have agency over her own life. One man would anonymously send his ex threatening voice-mails. Another falsely claimed to police that his former girlfriend was stalking him rather than the other way around. Others lurked outside their former partners’ houses, letting it be known they could reach them at any moment.

“Stalking is not just a celebrity phenomenon,” says Dooley. “One in five women and one in 10 men will fall victim … it forces the victim to be hyper-vigilant every hour of the day.”

Dooley’s unprepossessing style makes her the perfect journalist to unpack a difficult subject. She radiates big sister wisdom as she encourages women to share their experiences. “To begin, he wanted to win me back,” says Katie, who met her ex at the gym where he worked. “There’d be a note on my car … Then [he] started turning a bit threatening.”

Stacey Dooley in her new show Stalkers. Photographer: Alana McVerry
Stacey Dooley in her new show Stalkers. Photographer: Alana McVerry

The trauma weighed on all the family and extracted a terrible price: “My dad died five days after the court case,” says Katie. “A massive brain haemorrhage due to blood pressure.”

In the UK, as in Ireland, the authorities do not always respond as effectively as they might. Only three regional police forces in Britain have dedicated anti-stalking units. And victim support groups are constantly struggling to meet demand. “We’re always in crisis mode,” says a volunteer at Portsmouth-based Aurora New Dawn.

Dooley has a talent for communicating often distressing truths in a relatable style. And if the going is heavy, the ultimate message is straightforward: these women, and the many others like them, need to be acknowledged and supported. And the men who turn their lives into living nightmares put behind bars.

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