Actors and theatremakers experiencing stalking will be able to access new guidelines outlining how to tackle their situations, which Equity warned can have a “distressing and sometimes life-changing” impact on victims.
A spokeswoman for the union said that while stalking was not a common occurrence, actors were particularly vulnerable due to their visibility and the often public nature of their lives.
Equity’s guidelines outline the law around stalking, which is a criminal offence, and steps for someone who is being stalked to take, including contacting the police immediately. The resource also signposts to other useful contacts.
Stalking is defined as “persistent and unwanted attention that can make you feel pestered and harassed”. Equity gave examples of stalkers turning up at the victim’s home or workplace, and sending unwanted gifts or notes.
The guidelines, which are for all Equity members, have been produced following a motion to Equity’s 2018 Annual Representative Conference from the East of Scotland General Branch, several members of which had experienced stalking.
A spokeswoman said: “Members receive the unwanted behaviours of stalking directed to them because people have seen them on stage and on television and feel they have some kind of connection.
“Many of our members are much more visible, therefore there are obvious challenges; they’re easier to track down, they live a more public life and their social media is full of what they are doing, because that’s part of their career.”
The spokeswoman stressed that victims should remember that stalking was not their fault and advised: “If you ever feel uncomfortable, you should listen to yourself.”
She added: “It’s something that does happen to our members, it’s something our members brought to us as an issue, and we’re just trying to give some clear, sensible guidance around it and signposting.
“The fact that these new guidelines exist might empower some to think: ‘Actually, this is a thing that I can do something about. I’m not just imagining it, and here are the steps I need to take.'”