Violence in close relationships and especially when a relationship ends can involve stalking. Stalking has been a crime in Finland since 2014.
According to the law, stalking means contacting someone repeatedly without permission, following, monitoring and similar disturbances. Stalking causes fear and anxiety in the victim.
Stalking is extremely strenuous for the victim, and sometimes it can feel like the harassment will never end. There are ways to intervene, and it is worth it to get help.
- Let the stalker know that he/she may not call, send messages, or contact you otherwise anymore.
- Block the unwanted person on your phone and messaging services.
- Tell him/her that you will report the matter to the police if the harassment does not stop. Sometimes this can end the harassment.
- Do not maintain contact with the unwanted person. Do not answer messages.
- Report the matter to the police with a low threshold.
- Apply for a restraining order for the stalker.
- If the stalking takes place online or your email is being spied, reset the passwords of the digital services and computer you use. Create a new email account if necessary. Remove your connections to the stalker also in social media.
- If there are children involved, take care of their safety.
- Keep the messages you get in different applications or email. They can be used as evidence in a criminal case. Write down the times of the harassment that occurred.
- Do not hesitate to call 112 if the situation is at all threatening. Sometimes a visit from a police patrol and talking to the perpetrator may help to stop the stalking.
- Remember that you are not alone. You can get support and help from, for example, Victim Support Finland.
In a threatening situation, the offence can also be menace. A menace means that the victim is threatened in such a way that he/she has cause to be afraid for his/her own safety or property.
The threatening can take place on the telephone, face to face, by email or in writing. The significant thing is that the threats cause real fear in the victim. Threats are often accompanied by threatening with violence or breaking and destroying property.
Report menaces to the police. Keep the threatening messages, as they can serve as evidence in the matter.
Stalking and menace are punished with a fine or imprisonment:
- fine or imprisonment for a maximum of two years for stalking
- fine or imprisonment for a maximum of two years for menace
Read also about violence in close relationships on the police’s website (link)
More information about restraining orders on the police’s website (link)
Links to support organisations on the police’s website (link)
Information about restraining orders on the District Court’s pages https://oikeus.fi/tuomioistuimet/karajaoikeudet/fi/index/rikosasiat/lahestymiskielto.html
The Criminal Code on Finlex (http://finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/1889/18890039001?search%5Btype%5D=pika&search%5Bpika%5D=rikoslaki)