Home > Rights > Your Rights Under the Protection From Harassment Act 1997

Your Rights Under the Protection From Harassment Act 1997

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 27 Sep 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Protection From Harassment Act Criminal

Harassment can cause alarm, fear and distress. Many people who are the victims of any kind of harassment can end up becoming ill, both mentally and physically, as a result. It will almost certainly lead to increased stress which can have a major impact in raising blood pressure.

Harassment can also lead to insomnia, anxiety and depression, poor concentration and can dramatically affect your self-confidence and self-respect. People who are being harassed may take excessive intakes of alcohol or drugs to try to alleviate the problem which will, ultimately, only make matters worse. The Protection From Harassment Act 1997 offers you Protection From this Unwanted Behaviour.

The Protection From Harassment Act 1997

Under this Act it becomes a criminal offence if you:

  • Cause alarm, harassment or distress more than once as a result of an action you conduct against another person. The conduct might be verbal or non-verbal and it doesn’t have to be the same type of action on each occasion – if the person feels alarmed, harassed or distressed by your actions, then it is deemed harassment, even if that was not your intention.
  • Take any kind of action against another person which causes a fear of violence. This must happen on at least two occasions. The alleged offender must be aware, or ought to be aware, that their actions are likely to induce a fear of violence in the other person.

Civil Injunctions

The Protection From Harassment Act 1997 also permits you to take out a civil injunction against the alleged offender, as a right to protection and possible compensation in cases where a criminal prosecution isn’t appropriate or there is insufficient evidence to pursue a criminal case. This can be very useful as it’s often a civil injunction being put in place which will prevent the alleged offender from persisting with the behaviour.

Police Assistance

If you feel you are at immediate risk of violence as a result of harassment, then you should Call The Police. Under The Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, the police can force the alleged offender to leave the vicinity of your home or the location where you might be at the time, and they have the powers of arrest if the alleged offender fails to comply with this order.

Dealing With Stalkers

Harassment isn’t always about people wanting to cause harm to another. Sometimes, it’s completely the opposite. People who might have a strong admiration and perceived ‘love’ for another person can end up becoming so obsessed that they might end up stalking you. This doesn’t necessarily mean just following you around or calling you on the phone, but would include situations where they are writing to you persistently and/or sending you unwanted gifts. And, should this be the case, then they are also guilty of causing harassment for which they can ultimately be prosecuted.

Therefore, whether it’s the intention of the alleged offender to cause harm by their harassment or not, or even if they’re unaware they might be causing alarm or distress, it is still an offence under the Act.

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My step father is following me wherever I go. I already have social phobia and rarely go out. He is frequently parked outside my flat, and if I do go out, which is seldom, he follows me. He has even changed his car. He is reall y freaking me out.
Debz - 27-Sep-18 @ 3:01 PM
Kels - Your Question:
Hello, My Nan lives with my uncle which obviously is her son for as long as I can remember he never leaves her alone, he pays house to my Nan because everyone has to pay there way in the world but he follows her out so he can get the money back to pay for drugs. He is 27 and is a druggie, my Nan doesn’t want to live with him, he’s violent, what should I do if I can do anything? It’s horrible to sit back and watch how he treats my Nan. She means the world to me.

Our Response:
Talk to your nan. Is she willing to contact the police about the violence and the drugs? Assuming she owns the property, she can evict him if she doesn't want him living there.
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Hello, My Nan lives with my uncle which obviously is her son for as long as I can remember he never leaves her alone, he pays house to my Nan because everyone has to pay there way in the world but he follows her out so he can get the money back to pay for drugs. He is 27 and is a druggie, my Nan doesn’t want to live with him, he’s violent, what should I do if I can do anything? It’s horrible to sit back and watch how he treats my Nan. She means the world to me.
Kels - 7-Sep-18 @ 4:41 PM
i been dealing with a cousin who is non stop harrassing me my kids my sister n her kids shes turning us in making false accusations to the cps and cps made several visits to my house ....this is ridiculous i dont bother her dont talk to her she slandering my name to the public to the schools to the buissnesses in town to my housing manager to the tribal police as well....threatened my sister and called her out to fightand then called the cops on her saying my sister tried to fight with her..its everyday drama with that person ..can i sue her ..im not that person to get in everyones personal life and try and do harm to anyone especially kids..shes trying to get my kids taken from me saying im on drugsthe list goes on ....
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caroline hudderson - 18-Jul-18 @ 2:44 AM
I have been harassed by neighbours for 2 years. Thinking is, and this has been suggested by police, that neighbours would benefit if I sold cheap to get away, and their family could benefit. They own a 3 house next to each other around the corner.I have now sold myhouse, discreetly, amd wondering if putting up a Sold sign would stop the harassment, or if they may cause problems to put the buyer off.. I am unsure any suggestions welcome
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Sandra112 - 12-Jul-18 @ 11:29 AM
I live in on a row of terraced houses, the woman next door has always been strange and very aggressive towards anyone who makes eye contact including her own kids. The harassment started when my kids stroked one of her cats, she decided that that meant I was trying to steal it. I’ve had name calling, food thrown at the house and rubbish thrown on my garden all by the woman’s 14 year old daughter and her friends. They got evicted after Xmas but only moved a few doors up. Things improved and I rarely saw them until a couple of weeks ago when I was walking my kids home from school, I came across the daughter and her friend who’d picked this woman’s 2 young kids up from school. We changed direction to avoid any aggro and they followed us and started shouting abuse at me in front of my young children. The friend then ran up to me and started mouthing off I asked her to leave me alone. I just wanted to get home with my kids. Later that evening the mother and her druggy boyfriend came round hammering at my door and windows. I ignored it the first 2 times but opened the door the 3rd time where she lunged at me and hit me in front of my kids and her own. I pushed her out of my house, locked the door and dialled 999. The police didn’t turn up until the following morning and did nothing. I don’t feel safe and neither do my kids. I’m a single mother so it’s just me and the kids. I’m having to move to escape the constant abuse because there is nothing the police can do unless they’re physically violent again. I can’t help but think that scum like that can get away with murder while their victims suffer.
Scared&fedup - 8-Jul-18 @ 10:16 PM
Any advice ,been trouble from day 1 from my now husband's ex wife and partner,her in boxing me and family members saying my partner is violent and to listen to ss reports, and police reports.I did Claire's law unknown to him,anyway as I thought he had no convictions what so ever.unknown to us his ex s new husband was awaiting trial for sex offences against an adult and is now in prison for 4 and half year.Hes wrote to us from prison twice and said he's coming to see us when he's out.Hes up for parole feb I'm terrified,police have stopped him writing to us but what else can we do.Theres now been a false allegation made against my husband and he's been stopped from seeing his son once again.its wiping our marriage and family apart .the only thing that ever happened to them in the beginning was a pin notice was given .We are scared of the future .
Dee - 8-Jul-18 @ 1:11 PM
Andy- Your Question:
I have a neighbour that me and my mum used to be really good friend's with I once worked with her late husband when he was a live a few years ago my mum received a text message from her sayin I know you have a machine and your son watches me in the shower. my mum received message after message saying we kills her cat with siad electric shock machine then when her husband recently died we had no idea at that time as we did everything possible to avoid any contact with her she followed us to the shop walked up to my mum that was sat in her wheelchair and said I'll never forgive you for killing him.!! Your gonna pay for this!! I ran out after her to try and talk sense into her but she didn't want to know I spoke to her daughter and she admitted her mum has mental health issues but not to worry as she was moving away. my mum was so relieved she was finally able to go out without having abuse shouted at her or a fist raised in her face. but about 3 days ago she moved back next door to where she once lived. and she hasn't changed at all. I have had enough of my mum and me having to live with this constant torment. What can we do to deal with this she obviously needs help!! But her son or daughter won't do anything about it they just say she has mental health issues and that's it.

Our Response:
Try talking to social services if you don't think that she is capable of living alone. Your local police community support officer might be able to help if she is being abusive.
ProblemNeighbours - 5-Jul-18 @ 3:47 PM
My neighbour is the neighbour from Hell, she is psychiatrically unbalanced slashing both of her arms, stands screaming at me and accusing me of of different things that have absolutely no bearing on me. She has five cars and won't allow us to park our car in the Cul-de-Sac where I live. If I move my car she immediately runs out of the house and parks one of her cars in the place that I have just left. She has had my mail inadvertently delivered to her house and after reading it she has thrown it away so I never received it. I know this to be true because a very important letter I was waiting for never arrived and the sender told me it was addressed to me but with a different house number, hers! I have never said anything or done anything to her to make her this way, no argument, no insult nothing she is just a thoroughly nasty piece of work. She tried to Blackmail me twice, has cut a tree down in my garden, demands that her husband cut down my hedgerow, which he has done. Her whole family have been notorious as Bullies, and it's always psychological never physical, she wishes that the four very elderly and infirm neighbours of ours would hurry up and die as they are using up Oxygen !! Her daughters threatened to kill me, it was only when my husband stood up to her that she backed off screaming obscenities........I could go on but my life has been ruined after 15 years of this hell
Exocet - 5-Jul-18 @ 1:30 PM
I have a neighbour that me and my mum used to be really good friend's with I once worked with her late husband when he was a live a few years ago my mum received a text message from her sayin I know you have a machine and your son watches me in the shower.. my mum received message after message saying we kills her cat with siad electric shock machine then when her husband recently died we had no idea at that time as we did everything possible to avoid any contact with her she followed us to the shop walked up to my mum that was sat in her wheelchair and said I'll never forgive you for killing him..!! Your gonna pay for this!! I ran out after her to try and talk sense into her but she didn't want to know I spoke to her daughter and she admitted her mum has mental health issues but not to worry as she was moving away.. my mum was so relieved she was finally able to go out without having abuse shouted at her or a fist raised in her face.. but about 3 days ago she moved back next door to where she once lived.. and she hasn't changed at all. I have had enough of my mum and me having to live with this constant torment. What can we do to deal with this she obviously needs help!! But her son or daughter won't do anything about it they just say she has mental health issues and that's it..
Andy - 5-Jul-18 @ 12:30 PM
F4F - Your Question:
Wondered if anyone can help/guide?I've got some trouble causing relatives that persist in turning up on my doorstep, without any prior knowledge, communication or agreement.Things have gone past any discussion stage as they shout or talk over me. Disregarding my choices. I have asked politely that if they are to turn up at my door/doorstep that they please do the decent thing and either text or call to mention that they intend on visiting or would like to. I'm ok for mutually agreed times. However I think it's a control issue/thing going on here. Historically there's been drama and I don't want this on my doorstep. They've shouted at me (being verbally abusive) in public with no qualms yet I'm the one that looks awkward if I'm simply protecting myself. I'm a mum by myself with children. It's bad behaviour and I'm trying to be kind, considerate, caring to those around me. Basically they don't want to check with me if it's ok to turn up at my house. I find it intrusive as it can happen at any time. I get physically ill with this bullying and really I would like it to stop (or at least be decent and not turn up at any time of the day at my door).I'm no weakling, but because of their nasty demeanour and outlook, it is simply them trying to outweigh or overrule my request for decency. It really disturbs me and I shouldn't be living on eggshells. Help please.

Our Response:
If you don't feel comfortable saying this to the relatives directly, why not try writing a note inviting them at certain times. Tell them you'll be unavailable at other times so it would be a waste of their time trying to see you then?
ProblemNeighbours - 5-Jul-18 @ 11:51 AM
Wondered if anyone can help/guide? I've got some trouble causing relatives that persist in turning up on my doorstep, without any prior knowledge, communication or agreement. Things have gone past any discussion stage as they shout or talk over me. Disregarding my choices. I have asked politely that if they are to turn up at my door/doorstep that they please do the decent thing and either text or call to mention that they intend on visiting or would like to. I'm ok for mutually agreed times. However I think it's a control issue/thing going on here...... Historically there's been drama and i don't want this on my doorstep. They've shouted at me (being verbally abusive) in public with no qualms yet I'm the one that looks awkward if I'm simply protecting myself. I'm a mum by myself with children. It's bad behaviour and I'm trying to be kind, considerate, caring to those around me. Basically they don't want to check with me if it's ok to turn up at my house. I find it intrusive as it can happen at any time. I get physically ill with this bullying and really I would like it to stop (or at least be decent and not turn up at any time of the day at my door). I'm no weakling, but because of their nasty demeanour and outlook, it is simply them trying to outweigh or overrule my request for decency.It really disturbs me and I shouldn't be living on eggshells. Help please.
F4F - 1-Jul-18 @ 10:53 PM
The council don't care. They pre-judge and are as corrupt as our politicians. The police are overstretched so our problems seem insignificant but they need to understand these are our LIVES! We have to live with this daily and if we retaliate in any way shape or form they come down on us like a ton of bricks. My local council seem to help the 'asbo' families but decent tenants like me that want a nice house and pay rent on time and keep myself to myself are treated appallingly.I found out today my council had no right to speak to my neighbours without my permission as it could put my very safety in jeopardy and the incidents have escalated and the neighbour let slip something she could only have heard from someone at the council so I will be looking into the legalities of the councils behaviour because someone there is leaking my private correspondence!!
Michelle - 30-Jun-18 @ 12:03 AM
Iam so glad I came across this website at least I now know others have/are suffering as I am. I have been under an onslaught of harassment from new neighbours for almost 2 years. It has included racial abuse to visitors (police were called) threatening a housing officer that came to my home with violence, telling me they will make my life hell, throwing cement over my cars, now they keep making complaints tohighways department of a council to whom I do not pay my rates and who have no jurisdiction over the service road I live on, but who own the road fronting the service road and who keep coming out to my house and on to my property. They have no jurisdiction of the road or my home as the road is a service road and not a classfied or non classified road and I have just found comes under Highways at a different council. I have informed the council harassing me that they have no jurisdiction , I have evenn shown them emailed them letters from their own Planning Department stating they have no jurisdiction, and an SIMR from land registry, but highways will not accept it, They have now accused me of painting white lines myself outside my house.To make it worse when this council come out and stand in front of the neighours house who are making the complaints, taking photos of the pavement and white lines in front of my house. I have now put my house up for sale. Thing is the system is weighted against the victim because if you take enforcement action against the neighbours it needs declaring, I believe, when one sells. I took legal advice today and found that if I have proofs and have sent proofs to this council that show they have no jurisdictiom, then essentially I have case for harassment, maybe even criminal harassment as I have started to have panic attacks, I was in my dressing gown when last highways operative came to my door, I was in tears struggling to breath but still he persisted. My legal advice suggests I may even have a case for trespass against the council as they have no jurisdiction at the site or on my property. I would like to bring this myself but not sure how and if I have to use County Court or Small Claims I have written and told them I am feeling suicidal and having panic attacks, I have had 7 visits in 5 days. I have even written to the CEO and still it persists.I have now applied for written confirmation from the Highways department that my house and road actually come under for written confirmation that my home and the service road does come under their Council and to confirm that planning does not apply for anything, not even a dropped kerb as it is a non registered site/service road. Thing is the neighbours family owns a yard at the council waste site and I am sure they are using their contacts in their vendetta against me.... Thanks for reading and for giving me the space to get this off my chest.
Truther - 15-Jun-18 @ 11:33 PM
I have been living in my flat fornearly 11yrs. I have two sons one if whomis nearly 18 and no longer lives with me because of his behaviour.My younger son is 13 totally different from his brother and has some mild learning needs. He plays out with a group of other children. There has been problems with the kids going out on the garage roofs and I have acknowledged when my child has been guilty of doing this. My son has been accusedof being verbally abusive but from what ive witnessed these people havehad fivewhite children saying disgusting things but did not bother to find out their names and report them. When I spoke to one of the tenants she said she had reported all the children. A lot of things have been said about my childand photos took of only my child two white children threw paint around the garages and I was told by the housing that it was my child when two people told me the names of the children who threw the paint ....nothing to do with my son. The housing officer said letters were sent to all parents I said the best thing to do is have a meeting with all parents concerned. She said no it has to be individual meetings as we all might be friends. The real reason she did not want a meeting with all parents because no letters were sent to anyone else. All the other children said their parents received no letters. But I received a letter and my neighbour. I am black and my son is mixed race. My other neighbour isblack and so is her son. It seems strange that non of the white parents have had letters and none of the white children's names were givenand the housing are supporting this threatening us with social services and the police yet all the kids have been doing the same thing. I have suffered on and off with depression and this is making me I'll why target just the black mom's and their child's and for a housing to be supporting them and not even enquiringabout those kids seems to be very one sided.plus to even sit and lie knowing they had not sent letters to anyone else.
Jd - 14-Jun-18 @ 11:33 PM
There's a non molestation order gains my ex. He is not allowed within 100m of my house. He was seen in April going back and forth into my back yard and a neighbour spoke to him. At the time I was away for a few days and he'd have known. She can't remember the date but she knows she saw him at my property in 2018.the order was enforced in 2017. I've tried to tell the police about a previous breach when he walked past my house at night with the Children at night but because they are young, they can't be interviewed. I know I'm being followed and stalked but I can't prove it. Any advice is appreciated
Maria - 13-Jun-18 @ 3:50 PM
Loopylou - Your Question:
My ex and I have an 8yr old son. There is very little communication (email only) between us. We have a court order in place for contact. 4 years ago He spat in my face and after 2 years of him shouting at me in public when he spat in my face I finally had him arrested. He works for a police force so knows the law inside out and used his knowledge to intimidate me. Since that incident he has filmed me and every handover since. My son has seen all the footage and a folder with hundreds of photos of me at his address. I made another complaint but the police say they advise him to film every handover in case I make any further allegations. He recently came to my home trying to collect our son on a non contact day and shone a light into my Windows and filmed inside my house. Police have said it is "reasonable and justifiable" why he did it as he believed he was due to have our son and he was checking to see we were in and to also prove to our son he tried to collect him. He could do it anytime he liked so ling as he believed he was due to have our son! I live in fear in my own home. He even hides in the bush at the end of my garden filming when he drops our son off in the evenings. My son thinks it's a game. Has anyone ever managed to get a non molestation order/injunction to stop someone filming? Surely this is harrassment if it's not criminal. We are back in court in 3 weeks for a new child arrangements order (3rd one) and hopefully this one will be in black and white so it can't be interpreted or manipulated easily.

Our Response:
Many fathers do film contact handovers as it ensures a record can be kept and noone can make false allegations. Handovers can be fraught times especially if one partner cannot accept that a child has rights to equal contact with both parents. If your ex partner is turning up at other times than those when contact was due to take place, you could report it as stalking. Hopefully the new child arrangements order will make things easier.
ProblemNeighbours - 13-Jun-18 @ 12:39 PM
I have lived in this street for over 17 years and the neighbours are an absolute nightmare. Since my husband left the couple upstairs have harrassed me and destroyed my property on a regular basis. They get a kick out of seeing me upset. Whe I confront them with proof of what they've done they pretend by being overly friendly and helpful saying they don't want any animosity then proceed to do things to destroy my paintwork, have taken a hammer to my pebbledash cracking the cement, scraped my newly painted door, flooded my kitchen/bathroom, cut the washing lines. They apparently did this to the neighbours before me - they also use my garden as if it belongs to them and are aggressive whenever I use my garden. They are in their mid 60's and the other neighbours see what they are doing but no-one will say anything - which is the bullying culture, that's why they get away with it and I believe the ones who do nothing are every bit as insidious as the perpetrators. I am exhausted with the constant harrassment and the police have told me not to retaliate but its getting difficult not to. Their advice is not to allow them to get to me - which is easier said than done when you have people causing you anxiety. Im hoping someone can advise me on what I can do about these horrible, nasty people - they dont have a life and get their kicks out of upsetting people. Id be grateful for any help - the police and the council have done nothing.
stopthebullies - 13-Jun-18 @ 1:35 AM
My ex and I have an 8yr old son. There is very little communication (email only) between us. We have a court order in place for contact. 4 years ago He spat in my face and after 2 years of him shouting at me in public when he spat in my face I finally had him arrested. He works for a police force so knows the law inside out and used his knowledge to intimidate me. Since that incident he has filmed me and every handover since. My son has seen all the footage and a folder with hundreds of photos of me at his address. I made another complaint but the police say they advise him to film every handover in case I make any further allegations. He recently came to my home trying to collect our son on a non contact day and shone a light into my Windows and filmed inside my house. Police have said it is "reasonable and justifiable" why he did it as he believed he was due to have our son and he was checking to see we were in and to also prove to our son he tried to collect him. He could do it anytime he liked so ling as he believedhe was due to have our son!I live in fear in my own home. He even hides in the bush at the end of my garden filming when he drops our son off in the evenings. My son thinks it's a game. Has anyone ever managed to get a non molestation order/injunction to stop someone filming? Surely this is harrassment if it's not criminal. We are back in court in 3 weeks for a new child arrangements order (3rd one) and hopefully this one will be in black and white so it can't be interpreted or manipulated easily.
Loopylou - 9-Jun-18 @ 5:37 PM
My neighbour has been wearing me down for the last two years. It seems mad to list some of the little things like deliberately making noise when returning home in middle of night, running up and down stairs noisily, slamming doors when leaving for work, crashing around in kitchen, venting boiler fumes and bbqs over the fence. Nit slept properly in 2 years and this weekend i finally cracked, got angry and all the behaviour has stopped. Now i realise she has been deliberately winding me up to destroy me.
ArtyType - 5-Jun-18 @ 3:55 PM
Dani - Your Question:
My brother in law lives in our home does thing's. Like last night came home a 3am woke me and my kid's. Screaming to come park my car straight. In the drive way makes my kids cry comes at me like he's. Going to hurt me all the time has swing. At me one time not hitting. Me on purposes. Later apologized. Said he has hit girls. Hard in the past what can I do it's. Hard for me and my kid's. To live like this any more

Our Response:
Can you not just ask him to leave? What is the status regarding tenancy etc?
ProblemNeighbours - 4-Jun-18 @ 10:15 AM
My brother in law lives in our home does thing's. Like last night came home a 3am woke me and my kid's. Screaming to come park my car straight. In the drive way makes my kids cry comes at me like he's. Going to hurt me all the time has swing. At me one time not hitting. Me on purposes. Later apologized. Said he has hit girls. Hard in the past what can i do it's. Hard for me and my kid's. To live like this any more
Dani - 3-Jun-18 @ 3:28 AM
Hi my daughter has been harassed for over a year all because of a 2 week relationship now he is back with his girlfriend and they have been giving her grief she has now move out.but they are targeting us and our children one witch is disabled.the police takes statments of us but nothing is getting done its beem 2 years now and still going on we are so stress now they just keep liying to the police of what we have done bur we are the victims hear help
Jonny - 31-May-18 @ 12:22 AM
worried mother - Your Question:
My daughter is being seriously harassed by her ex boyfriend with very vile comments and accusations, which are not true. She is 19 and he is 23. She has different plataforms. He is sending horrid messages with the intention to destroy her. He is also harrassing her lovely boyfriend with horrid threats. As he is a rugby player, the troubled ex is threatening to destroy his legs, so he can never play again. He is also commenting about me and my husband. My daughter has bloked him. However the damage is done. She is very upset and scared about what he will do next. Both boys live at walking distance and he knows where she works and live.Can we do anything?

Our Response:
Talk to the police first of all (local community policing team, not the emergency number). Make sure it's recorded. The police will also be able to give your daughter some advice on how to keep herself and her new boyfriend safe.
ProblemNeighbours - 29-May-18 @ 12:51 PM
My daughter is being seriously harassed by her ex boyfriend with very vile comments and accusations, which are not true. She is 19 and he is 23. She has different plataforms. He is sending horrid messages with the intention to destroy her. He is also harrassing her lovely boyfriend with horrid threats. As he is a rugby player, the troubled ex is threatening to destroy his legs, so he can never play again. He is also commenting about me and my husband. My daughter has bloked him. However the damage is done. She is very upset and scared about what he will do next.Both boys live at walking distance and he knows where she works and live. Can we do anything?
worried mother - 29-May-18 @ 10:20 AM
I have a neighbor who keeps calling my landlord for every lil thing I do if anybody comes over she's calling my landlord of my kids are outside and the playing she's calling my landllandlord saying they making to much noise if we playing music and she can hear it she's calling on me she won't leave me alone what can I do about this women its so bad my family won't come to my house cause she called the police cause the kids where out side playiplaying I'm tired of this what can I do
Kisha - 24-May-18 @ 3:00 AM
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