Weʼre raising £2,018 to support victims of domestic violence and homelessness: £2,018 in 2018
- London, UK
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The hardest thing about being stalked isn’t what happens at the time but what happens afterwards.
It’s being too afraid to go to sleep in case they manage to get in to your flat this time. It’s getting that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach whenever your phone goes off in case it’s another message. It’s being terrified about leaving the house on your own, and when you do, you have your hand around your phone in one pocket and your hand clutching a bottle of criminal defence spray in the other (in your right hand, so you know you can push the trigger hard enough). It’s spending hours working out what you would do if he had a bottle the next time he was drunk, or broke through your front door, or found out where your family lived. It’s waiting for whatever the next thing will be, with no idea of what it is or when it will come.
You shut down. You surround yourself with a tight circle of people you trust and you don’t let anyone else in. You imagine all kinds of scenarios and when the next thing happens, it doesn’t come as a surprise any more. This isn’t a one-off event but part of your life and your daily routine now. And after a while, feeling nothing but fear just numbs all your emotions and your state of being is to just exist.
Stalking is a crime under The Protection from Harassment Act 1997, The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, and several other legislations. The law, and the media, are starting to take it seriously (just Google “stalking”) and the legal consequences are becoming more severe. But this is not enough. Once they’ve been caught, once they’ve been reprimanded, once you know they can’t try and talk to you any more, are you free? No. Out of sight is most definitely not out of mind. In fact, quite the opposite.
Each time you file a police report, talk a counsellor, or tell anyone at all about him you relive that fear. Only now your reflexes aren’t focussed on your physical safety at the time, and you don’t have that burst of adrenaline, you feel each emotion more acutely. You relive it all, again and again. And you are still afraid.
It takes a long time to build your mental strength back up. There are no answers. No closure. No way of knowing whether it’s really stopped this time. Nobody can see inside your head and nobody really quite understands what has taken over your brain. There is just you, and finding a way to lift yourself out of it is hard.
My coping mechanism is exercise. Each time I push my body to achieve more than I thought it was capable of, I feel stronger. Each time I achieve something new or better, I feel better. As I get physically stronger I can feel my mind getting stronger too.
What started as one little goal I set myself this year has turned into a long (and growing!) list of physical challenges I am now doing in 2018. But I don’t just want to do this for my own mental health anymore. It’s estimated 1 in 5 women will experience stalking at some point in their life and each one will face their own battle as they work out how to move on and stop the fear from ruling their life. And you can’t do this on your own. Someone needs to tell you it’s not your fault, and keep telling you that. It’s not you and you haven’t done anything wrong. It’s so important to have people to turn to to help you feel safe, to help you understand your own mind, to coach you through coping mechanisms, and also to help you understand the law, the criminal process, and the options available to you.
NCDV specialises in providing an emergency injunction service to the police but also spend a lot of time helping people to understand the process directly, as well as putting you in touch with specific individuals they recommend to help you based on your own situation. When you don’t qualify for legal aid but don’t have £1,000s to spend on a solicitor, NCDV help you to make sense of the options available to you.
(Note: NCDV aren't a charity and instead are funded by solicitors; however, there isn't enough funding to support women who don't qualify for legal aid and can't afford the fees themselves. The Cottman Foundation is a charity which helps plug this funding gap and, having spoken with them and NCDV, they will ringfence this donation specifically for their work with NCDV.)
The Running Charity help young people aged 16-25 in London and Manchester who are homeless, or at risk of being homeless, by running with them and building personal training plans. The mental health benefits of running, combined with the discipline of setting and achieving goals, has given motivation to some of the most vulnerable members of our population to build and achieve a stronger future.
Hackney Half Marathon (20th May)
Scafell Pike (16th June)
Yorkshire 3 Peaks (28th July)
Snowdon (5th August)
Thames Meander Half Marathon (11th August)
Kilimanjaro (2nd - 8th September)
Bournemouth Marathon (7th October)
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- 9 days ago
Melissa van der Hecht9 days ago
Thank you everyone so much for your donations! I'm very overwhelmed by your generosity, didn't expect to receive so much so quickly! It was the thought of every single one of your donations and also your messages on here and in person that got me, step by very difficult step, up to the Uhuru Peak. Because of your support I was determined not to give up! One more challenge to go now and then I can't wait to donate to NCDV and The Running Charity.
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Sep 17, 2018
Job fills the pocket - adventure fills the soul.Great cause; well done!
Ash & Dan
Sep 17, 2018
Congrats on the recent achievement! Keep smashing it!
Sep 11, 2018
Well done Melissa - so proud of you!
Sep 11, 2018
You truly are a Person Bravely Mastering Fear (PBMF)
Sep 10, 2018
Super proud of you, what an awesome human you are ! x
Sep 7, 2018
Go for it Melissa. I hope you are enjoying it out there!
Sep 6, 2018
Smash it Melissa!
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