According to a 2015 Crime Survey for England and Wales, 4.9 percent of women and 2.4 percent of men aged 16 to 59, or 1.1 million people, said they experienced stalking over a period of one year.
But more often than not, stalking isn't just someone following another person around; it leads to assault and attempted (or completed) murder.
One study by researchers at John Hopkins University found that 75 percent of female victims and 85 percent of attempted victims were all stalked by their male attackers first.
Those are some pretty sobering numbers.
In 2009, U.K. resident Helen Pearson became a victim of stalking. After Pearson declined a date with a man named Joseph Wills, he took it upon himself to make her life a living hell. He began following her around and harassing her.
He would call her over and over again, send her threatening letters, and slash her tires. He even went as far as to leave a dead cat on her doorstep. Outside of her home in Exeter, England, he wrote, “Die Helen Die”.
Devon & Cornwall Police "apologise" for not taking Helen Pearson's 125 reports about being stalked before a vicious assault in 2013. pic.twitter.com/1xxUajwFim— Man in Black (@69mib) June 29, 2017
Pearson reported Wills to the police 125 times. Nothing was done to secure her safety.
Three years after he began stalking her, Wills brutally attacked and tried to kill Pearson.
For a long time, Pearson contemplated suicide.
In an interview, she told BBC, “Every night you go to bed and you don’t know what is going to happen and you constantly live in fear. You see that there’s no way the stalking is ever going to end.”
She said she often felt like the agony wouldn't end until she was dead.
It almost came to that one evening in 2013. Pearson was walking home from her job at a local gym when she was attacked by Wills. Using a pair of scissors, he stabbed her multiple times in the face, back, and neck. Witnesses said they saw Pearson getting dragged by the hood of her coat into a cemetery. Thankfully, a motorist jumped out of her car and came to Pearson's rescue.
According to The Guardian, the police have apologized for their lackadaisical behavior. In their statement, they also admitted that there were organizational and human failings when it came to Pearson’s reports. The force also stated that three officers involved in the investigation will be facing misconduct charges.
“It doesn’t do anything for me. I am still suffering every day because of what happened to me,” said Pearson.
As for Wills, he has been charged with attempted murder and is currently serving a life sentence in prison.
A former chief executive of Network for Surviving Stalking, Alexis Bowater, says she’s not sure much has changed since 2013 because the police still don’t take this seriously enough.
Bowater told BBC, “They call it murder in slow motion. Taking stalking seriously is murder prevention.”