Trust issues

Lily Allen says police “victim-blamed” and “shamed” her when investigating stalker

(Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)

British Singer Lily Allen says she feels “victim-blamed” and “shamed” by the police in their investigation of a man who stalked her for seven years. A man named Alex Gray began stalking her in 2009 and broke into her house last year. Gray was convicted of harassment and burglary earlier this month and is currently awaiting sentencing. Gray regularly showed up at places where he knew he might find Allen, and left abusive letters and suicide threats for years, all of which she reported to authorities. The police gave her a panic alarm, but after just a few months took it away from her — and when she begged to see a picture of her stalker, they only let her glance at a photo for 30 seconds. “I felt very alone,” she told The Guardian in an interview. “I have some trust issues now, not least with the police. Who can you trust if you cannot trust institutions like the police?”

When Gray managed to break into her bedroom and started yelling at her and calling her a “f***ing bitch,” before a friend who was there too was able to get him out of the house, Allen did not even recognize the man. The police initially told her the intruder was probably “just a drunk,” and only started to take the case seriously when they could file it as a “burglary,” because her handbag had been stolen during the break-in. After Gray was apprehended, Allen said she was baffled to find that the police had destroyed all the stalker letters she had given them since 2009, according to “police protocol.”

“The police made me feel like a nuisance, rather than a victim. I feel lucky I had resources to protect myself, I could move house, get a lawyer, but if you don’t have that money, how much more terrifying must it be?” she wondered in the Guardian interview. “If they treat me like this, how the hell are they going to treat someone else without those resources, without clout?”

A police officer later sent her an email, which she revealed during an interview with BBC’s Newsnight, telling her that her criticism of the police could discourage other victims. “I think it’s victim-shaming and victim-blaming,” Allen said. The singer is now working with the Women’s Equality Party and Paladin, a stalking advocacy service, to campaign for a register of serial stalkers and specialist resources for both stalkers and their victims.

Read the full story at Stereogum.

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