Images of domestic violence are shocking – the bruised face, the black eye and the plastered arm in a sling –and rightly garner attention.
But images of harassment and stalking are harder to convey. And while the crime may be less physically painful, the scars may be no less discomfiting.
Today we report on the court case brought against Trevor Swan, the estranged husband of Julie Swan. Sadly, their relationship broke down and Swan then harassed his wife to a disturbing degree. As Julie is well-known in the area as a Ukip councillor and for her work with the Pompey Supporters’ Trust, she could not – and frankly should not have had to – hide away, and thus had to endure her ex’s unwanted attention for a while.
Julie’s decision to speak out so openly is to be applauded. She says she wants other people to realise that help – and ultimately justice – is out there if need be, and she’s absolutely correct to say so.
In court it was revealed that she became afraid to even answer the phone. She had to create an escape route if she ever held a councillor’s surgery in case he turned up, and, late at night, she would dread the sound of a single car door slamming, as that could have been a sign that Trevor had arrived outside her home.
This is a deplorable state of affairs. We cannot pretend that all cases such as this one can be eradicated but one of the strong messages to take from Julie’s case is the proof that help is out there.
Today we publish a list of numbers for organisations that can help – and if anyone has found themselves the victim of a stalker they should seek help immediately. But there are also things they can do to help themselves. Keep a diary. Do not delete any electronic communications. Log everything.
All these actions can help build a case against a harasser. Harassment often has the issue of power at its root and by standing up and acting against it, some power can be won back. Julie’s case, unpleasant though it is, is a heartening example of justice being served.
We hope she can recover from what must have been a harrowing experience – and that her story may empower others.
To read the full story click here.