"I hope it sends out the message that one woman, one voice can make a difference and I hope this inspires and encourages other women to believe that they too can make a difference"
Ann went through a terrorising stalking experience, lost her career, went into hiding and found the law-enforcement, justice and support system wholly inadequate. Turning negative into positive, she campaigned successfully for Scotland to be the first to embed stalking-specific legislation in 2009. In 2014, the Charity was founded, and is the only charity in Scotland/UK which champions and supports victims, providing specialist training to professionals. The charity receives no funding, but Ann provides a unique specialised and free service to victims in the evening and weekends. Ann does this out-with her working day as a clinician, on an entirely voluntary basis. She developed the Victim Impact Box as a resource for victims to take back control of their lives. In 2018, she secured commitment from other victim-support organisations on Scottish National Stalking-Awareness Group to provide multi-agency advice and support to victims. She continues to champion the voice of victims and promote the specialised model across UK and Europe.
Please describe what the company does?
The work of ASAS contributes to 8 out of 16 of the Scottish Governments National Outcomes – crime, communities, young people, children, healthier lives, inequalities, public services and children, young people and families. ASAS will enhance the Scottish Government’s proposed Equally Safe’ strategy and strategic objectives of building a Safer and Stronger Scotland as well as developing a Healthier Scotland by reducing inequalities: Implementation of The Council of Europe’s European Convention for Combatting Violence Against Women and Girls and the provision of specialized services for supporting victims of stalking; the successful implementation of the Scottish Governments Victim & Witnesses Act 2014 which recognizes stalking victims as vulnerable victims, and entitlement to Justice & Safety as outlined by the SCHR Scotland's National Action Plan for Human Rights.
Ann delivers training on stalking to police, criminal justice professionals, government funded bodies, educational institutions and victim support agencies across Scotland as well as on the international stage. She presents as a key speaker at conferences and seminars across the country and on the European platform and consults on many developments in Scotland and abroad regarding stalking. She continues to work closely with the Crown Office, Police Scotland, NHS Scotland, Victim Support Organisations, Schools Colleges and Universities to help tackle this crime.
We are only just discovering the substantial impact that stalking has on Scotland’s economy, communities and health. Ensuring appropriate statutory and third sector support is available to victims will make Scotland a more prosperous country for its people.
Encourage statutory authorities and relevant agencies to improve their response for victims of stalking;
Act as intermediary between the victim and justice system through its joint case recovery framework with the COPFS and Police Scotland, short term crisis intervention information, advice, guidance and signposting to relevant support agencies.
Deliver training, workshops, projects and awareness raising campaigns on the causes and impact of stalking;
Develop early intervention strategies through engagement with government, publicly sector and voluntary sector bodies and other interested parties;
Provide a means by which to connect victims, professionals, policy and decision-makers and other interested parties in order to develop preventative strategies;
Encourage governmental bodies to fulfil their obligations to ensure the effective implementation of the stalking legislations throughout the UK;
Work with relevant national and international organisations to create a cohesive and effective response to Stalking.
Please describe what your current role within the company is?
AS CEO my current role is to ensure the aims and objectives of the charity are met. Until we secure Government funding I will continue to work on a voluntary basis driving forward the stalking agenda.
Please tell us about what inspires you, and what this award means to you.
The biggest threat to our civil liberties is stalking and the second is our response to it.
I was determined that what happened to me must never happen to another person. I pledged I would be the voice of those victims who were too scared or unable to speak for themselves. Victims whose life had been severely disrupted, destroyed. psychologically traumatised damaged victims who have been raped and murdered some with damage too great to ever repair. I will continue to fulfil my pledge.
Violence comes in many forms, some more visible than others. Stalking is not a physical crime per se, it is a psychological crime. Unfortunately, emotional abuse and trauma was one variety that faded into the background, like a wallflower at the dance of newspaper headlines, where death, physical violence and suicide took center stage. But because we could not materialize the subjective, we choose instead to deny its existence. This was not just a failing of the criminal justice system but society as a whole.
Speaking out publicly, sharing my experience of being the victim of a stalker and of the criminal justice system, and the ongoing work of AAS has triggered momentous shift in thinking and attitudes from a victim blaming culture towards a more empathic understanding of what it is to be a victim and the recognition of psychological abuse as as every bit as damaging as crimes of a physical nature.
Access to justice should be the right of every citizen. The laws of the land are designed to represent the rights of the people: the individuals who make up our communities and society as a whole. It is the victims of crime who represent and present the harm that the perpetration of crime inflicts on both the individual and society, not just the state.
I have never made this work about me, but about others and have beavered away for many years to make change happen and to make a difference to the life of others and to society as a whole. This award is about me and I feel very humbled and very honoured.
I hope it sends out the message that one woman, one voice can make a difference and I hope this inspires and encourages other women to believe that they too can make a difference.