A woman from Essex has spoken out about how being stalked stole her confidence.
Denise Churchman spoke to ITV News Anglia about her relationship with her stalker Robert Preece, who has been jailed for 12 years.
The mother of two, says what started out as a couple of dates with a builder who worked at her house, turned into a nightmare.
Denise says she didn't initially recognise the signs of stalking, and in the beginning she described Preece as “very caring, would do anything for me, full of charm".
Denise says she tried to end her relationship with Preece after finding out that he had tried to use a locksmith to gain access to her house while she was away. On one occasion she was woken up in the middle of the night to see him standing in her bedroom.
A new campaign is now being launched in Essex to help combat stalking. The police say they want to help people to recognise the signs of the crime, and to give victims, like Denise, better support.
Cases of stalking have soared in Essex and it’s now one of the police’s top priorities.
- In 2018 there were 656 stalking offences in Essex
- In 2017 there were 207
Denise welcomed the new campaign, hoping that the police will do more to support other victims of stalking.
Despite Preece being jailed, Denise says she still struggles with what happened.
She urges anyone who thinks they may be experiencing stalking, or similar forms of abuse, to reach out to the Pathways Charity.
- Watch the full report by ITV Anglia's Rob Setchell: