A Maldon woman who was a victim of stalking has shown her support for a new Essex stalking campaign.

She became a victim after her former partner of three months became controlling and obsessive.

Speaking about her ordeal, she said: “Even now with him in prison I’m finding it hard to feel safe.

“In the beginning he was charming and caring, but gradually he became more controlling and suffocating in our relationship.

“When I tried to break free things went really wrong - he broke into my house and walked into my bedroom as I slept.

“He even installed a letter box on my home while I was working abroad to intercept my post and was constantly messaging and calling day and night.

“Even when we broke up, I couldn’t get away.”

The campaign, spearheaded by the Southend, Essex and Thurrock Domestic Abuse Board (SETDAB), aims to raise awareness of the signs of stalking and encourage people to report it.

They hope to give victims the support they need to get help to end their ordeal and bring perpetrators to justice.

Never sleeping, being afraid to look at your phone, and always looking over your shoulder are some of the symptoms Essex Police have highlighted as part of the campaign.

The Maldon victim added: “Over time I found the strength to tell the police and now he has been jailed, but the mental and emotional abuse I endured will never leave me.

“If you think you are being stalked there is help out there – please don’t suffer in silence.”

The campaign has been launched in response to the rising number of stalking offences across the county.

In 2018 there were 635 stalking victims identified and 508 named suspects of which 78 per cent of victims were women and 77 per cent of suspects were men.

Essex Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet said: “For victims of stalking the emotional torment of this crime plagues their every waking thought.

“They are always wondering when the perpetrator will next appear, when they will next receive that unwanted phone call or text, and many victims become afraid to go out.

“As the launch of this campaign demonstrates, Essex Police and our partners are committed to supporting victims, catching perpetrators and driving out this awful crime."