Coronavirus frontline doctor 'more scared of stalker than virus'

20 April 2020, 10:03

One in five women and one in 10 men in the UK will be stalked in their lifetime
One in five women and one in 10 men in the UK will be stalked in their lifetime. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

A frontline doctor says she is more terrified of her stalking ex-partner than coronavirus.

Emma, which is not her real name, is currently working on the frontline of the coronavirus outbreak.

But she claims her ex-partner is continuing to stalk her during the lockdown and it is scarier than the virus itself.

Speaking out during National Stalking Awareness Week, Emma told The Argus she split with her ex after discovering a drug habit.

He is said to have allegedly followed her to and from work, loitered outside her home and inundated her calls and messages.

She told the paper: "I am a doctor, working hard in our NHS to save lives during the Covid-19 emergency, I am obviously worried about exposure to the virus, but I can’t help feeling that the biggest threat to me is my stalker.

“Currently, every journey to and from work is a terrifying experience, changing routes has become almost second nature over the last year but I am now checking every car and every face because the streets are really quite empty.

“What if he is there again, would anyone come to help? Where would I run to? There are no shops or passers-by.”

Sarah - who also did not use her real name - has three children and is a nurse in Sussex.

She claims her ex-partner refused to return their children after saying she could infect them with coronavirus due to her work.

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She said: "Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined that being a nurse during a health crisis would mean that my abusive stalker ex, would get to take my children away from me in case I brought the virus home.

“The kids are now back at home but with new phones all set up by him and constantly calling it feels as if he is at home with us monitoring everything we do.”

Also in Blackpool, operating department practitioner Peter Mowbray, 53, said he feared for his safety after claiming to have been stalked and threatened on his road.

He was walking home from a night shift when he noticed a man following him and threatened to 'f***ing kill' him.

In Scotland's largest health board, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said it was the first health board in Scotland to introduce a stalking policy after staff were followed.

A working group which includes a police domestic abuse task force has been set up to create new procedures to tackle stalking of NHS staff.

Dr Anne MacDonald, a consultant forensic psychiatrist at the health board and a member of the working group, said: “It is totally unacceptable that any of our staff should have to face and endure the trauma of being stalked and our stance is very much one of zero tolerance to this kind of abuse.”

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According to stalking charity the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, one in five women and one in 10 men in the UK will be stalked in their lifetime which makes stalking as common as domestic abuse.

Also, an estimated 1,144,602 adults in England and Wales experienced stalking in 2017.

Detective Chief Inspector Mick Richards of Sussex Police said: "During the current Covid-19 pandemic your safety online is particularly important and there are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself.

“In particular, don’t be tempted to ‘block’ your caller, delete messages or throw away gifts as they could be used as evidence later on.”

Chief nursing officer for England, Ruth May said: “Our NHS and social care staff are pulling out all the stops in the face of an unprecedented global health threat, so I am shocked at some of the stories I am hearing of NHS staff being assaulted, spat at or attacked for their ID badges.

“I was deeply moved by the country coming together to clap our carers last week and the many stories of generosity from businesses and members of the public, but these inspiring displays of gratitude are at risk of being overshadowed by the stupid behaviour of an idiotic few who are putting lives at risk.

“So I am calling on the public to respect and listen to NHS staff, because you may be needing them very soon – please stay at home, wash your hands and save lives.”

The National Stalking Helpline provides advice and guidance to current or previous victims of stalking or harassment and can be reached on 0808 802 0300.

For practical personal safety advice contact the Suzy Lamplugh Trust on 020 7091 0014.