A DOCTOR working on the coronavirus front line has revealed she is more terrified of being stalked that she is of coronavirus.

Emma - not her real name - is a doctor serving on the front line of the pandemic but is terrified of how her ex-partner continues to stalk her during the lockdown.

She is one of two NHS workers who have shared their experiences to help raise awareness of National Stalking Awareness Week.

Emma’s relationship with her partner ended after she discovered his drug habit and after they split, he allegedly began to follow her to and from work, loitered outside her home and bombarded her with calls and messages.

“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.”

She added: “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.”

Mother-of-three Sarah, who also did not wish to give her real name, is a nurse in Sussex who claims her ex-partner refused to return their children to her care after saying she could infect them with Covid-19 through her work.

Sarah 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.”

The case studies of Emma and Sarah have been sourced with the assistance of Katy Bourne, chairwoman of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC).

Mrs Bourne, who also serves as PCC for Sussex, spoke of the importance of National Stalking Awareness Week and said it is a “forgotten” crime.

The Argus:

The coronavirus lockdown has led to a 26 per cent spike in online stalking referrals in Sussex, according to advocacy service Veritas Justice.

She said: “The rise in cyberstalking due to the lockdown concerns me deeply. We know all too well that this behaviour causes extreme distress and can unfortunately escalate quickly.

“I think with us now in lockdown, perpetrators of this have got more time on their hands then ever before.”

Mrs Bourne, who spoke of her own history of being stalked, stressed that stalking is a crime and people who come forward will be taken seriously.

“From my own personal experience with it, there were times where I just wanted to go 24 hours without thinking about that particular individual.”

She said: “The tragedy of Shana Grice (pictured below) was one of those moments that really made everybody focus and say how could this happen.”

The Argus:

Ms Grice was stalked by her controlling former boyfriend and reported him to police multiple times, but was fined for wasting police time by Sussex Police before she was killed.

Michael Lane was found guilty of her murder and jailed for life with a minimum term of 25 years in March 2017.

Sussex Police said recorded stalking offences doubled from 1,005 in the year to March 2018 to 2,020 in the year to March 2020.

Detective Chief Inspector Mick Richards said: “We have improved training for officers and staff and ensured specialists are on hand across the county to offer advice and support on a daily basis to keep people safe and feeling safe.

“We want victims to be confident and know we will take all reports seriously.”

Addressing the lockdown situation and the increased risk of cyberstalking, Mr Richards 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.”

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

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust provides practical personal safety advice on 020 7091 0014.

  • The coronavirus Sussex Crisis Fund has been set up to help those affected by the pandemic. The Argus’s charity and American Express have each donated £50,000 to kick-start the appeal. Grants will usually be for up to £5,000. More information is available at www.sussexgiving. org.uk/apply. To donate visit www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/sussexcrisisfund