Sunday 19 October 2014

Personal Pickings - Harassment, Stalking, Refusing To Stand Down

Personal Pickings is a feature here at Beautiful Bookish Butterflies that allows one of us to approach subject personal to us that has no link or connection to our bookish endeavors. Today, Amanda is talking about are personal battle with depression, how it's affected her life on the whole, her deepest, darkest moments and what keeps me going.

The following posts concern my thoughts, feelings and some strong opinions relating to the following article. The link will take you to the article, but won't improve the search engine results, the viewing figures or the social status of the article, so don't be afraid to read it.

The article in question was published the early morning of the 18th Oct, at which point, I was still obliviously in bed, more than likely asleep, completely unaware that another person who does what I do, that users the internet and/or her blog as a platform in which to express her opinions on a book she read, had been viciously and illegally investigated looked into stalked by an author who, surprise surprise, didn't like, nor appreciate her opinion on said book. My social feed was in uproar, and rightly so - in what world is it acceptable for somebody of such a higher authority, aka a published author, entitled to gather information, illegally on a certain individual just because she had her 'feelings hurt'? My mind was blown. I was in rage, I was disgusted, and most of all, I was confused. But why was I confused?

A Crime Was Committed, Yet Brushed Aside

This is what confused me. A grown woman, a 'professional' woman took it upon herself to, after receiving advice from numerous people, some that encouraged and some, more importantly, that discouraged her, to illegally and immorally start to stalk somebody who was doing nothing more than publishing her opinion on the internet.

It has been mentioned by many and is mentioned in said article that blogger may or not have been using false information, aka photos and names in order to hide her identity. This has not been proven or validated. The only 'evidence' of this is the authors words, which would not, in a court of law, be used at all by the prosecution as there is no solid background behind this accusation.

I, in my last year of blogging have thankfully, never brunted the force of an author, or publishers, or in fact, anybody who deemed fit to tell me my opinion, my thoughts or my feelings were 'inaccurate' or 'wrong', that I was 'trying to ruin their career' and I sincerely hope that I won't be at the forefront of any of those actions in my future, yet I remain completely aware, more so now than ever before, that this is completely possible, and I find this in every way, wrong.

I read books because I enjoy the experience. Some books I enjoy the experience of more than others and I cannot share that with many of the people I spend physical time with, so, in order to talk about these feelings, these 'experiences', I talk about them online, on an outlet, Blogger, that has never seen anything I have written or said to be against their terms and conditions. I write honestly and fairly. I justify my actions and my opinions, and I make people aware that my issues are with the novel I have read, not the author who wrote it, or the publishing house that published it, or the editors that worked on it, or the cover artist who helped promote it or anyone else that plays a part in the production of said novel. When I have an issue with the book, I have an issue with the book itself, not the people behind the book. When I have an issue of not connecting to the character, I have an issue with the character, not the author who wrote the character. When I have an opinion, I share it, honestly, truthfully and fairly and I have never been abused, hurt or viciously attacked because of it. Why? Because it's completely and utterly wrong.

To start following somebody, whether that be online, in public or privately, to start watching their every move, to compare their words to their actions, to monitor them on a daily basis, to seek them out, to find them, to cross a boundary with that other person in order to fulfil some quest, some challenge, in order to gain answers you want, without permission from the other person is completely and utterlyillegal.

I order to get down to the nitty gritty issue of whether the authors actions where in fact to be classed as stalking, I took it upon myself to research some the UK's Harassment and Stalking Terminology and what exactly equates to having committed a crime. Lets take a look..

In this legal guidance, the term harassment is used to cover the 'causing alarm or distress' offences under section 2 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 as amended (PHA), and 'putting people in fear of violence' offences under section 4 of the PHA. The term can also include harassment by two or more defendants against an individual or harassment against more than one victim.
A prosecution under section 2 or 4 requires proof of harassment. In addition, there must be evidence to prove the conduct was targeted at an individual, was calculated to alarm or cause him/her distress, and was oppressive and unreasonable.
Harassment of an individual can also occur when a person is harassing others connected with the individual, knowing that this behaviour will affect their victim as well as the other people that the person appears to be targeting their actions towards. This is known as 'stalking by proxy'. Family members, friends and employees of the victim may be subjected to this.

I don't know about you, but something tells me that not only did the authors actions aim to cause 'alarm or distress', but she also readily admitted to this in the article, providing an account of her actions and actual physical proof of her actions, as well as further causing more distress to the reviewer by engaging in confrontational conversation with her friends on other social media outlets. In the UK, the authors actions would be deemed as harassment and could, in a court of law, result in a six month imprisonment, whether or the reviewer stood up as a witness and testified against her, her actions would already have evidential proof and would therefore be enough to convict her.

Lets move onto how the authors actions where taken a step further and reached stalking..

Whilst there is no strict legal definition of 'stalking', section 2A (3) of the PHA 1997 sets out examples of acts or omissions which, in particular circumstances, are ones associated with stalking. For example, following a person, watching or spying on them or forcing contact with the victim through any means, including social media.
The effect of such behaviour is to curtail a victim's freedom, leaving them feeling that they constantly have to be careful. In many cases, the conduct might appear innocent ( if it were to be taken in isolation), but when carried out repeatedly so as to amount to a course of conduct, it may then cause significant alarm, harassment or distress to the victim.
Stalking is not legally defined but section 2A (3) of the PHA 1997 lists a number of examples of behaviours associated with stalking. The list is not an exhaustive one but gives an indication of the types of behaviour that may be displayed in a stalking offence. The listed behaviours are: (a) following a person, (b) contacting, or attempting to contact, a person by any means, (c) publishing any statement or other material relating or purporting to relate to a person, or purporting to originate from a person, (d) monitoring the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication, (e) loitering in any place (whether public or private), (f) interfering with any property in the possession of a person, (g) watching or spying on a person.

Now, also, you're welcome to correct me if I am wrong, but, according to authors version of 'events', the author admitted to: contacting or attempting to contact a person by any means, publishing any statement or other material relating or purporting to relate to a person, and watching or spying on a person. The Stalking and Harassment Laws also delve into how to identify a stalker, shall we see whether the author fits the lovely, legal ways to identify?

In making an identification and assessment of risk, police officers should give consideration to information around:
  1. the harassment behaviour involved;
  2. the suspect (for example, previous history of behaviour and their circumstances);

Matters to be considered include:
  1. the harassing behaviour is happening more frequently or escalating in terms of the level of violence used;
  2. the suspect is physically present at the victim's home, workplace or place where they can regularly be found;
  3. the harassing behaviour is being directed against people surrounding the victim (for example, partner, family, friends, children, neighbours and work colleagues);
  4. threats of harm are being made to the victim or someone else - this might include indirect threats; and the occurrence of destruction or vandalism of property belonging to either the victim or someone else.

The suspect may have:
  1. previous convictions (or alternatively there may be relevant police intelligence) for violence or other offending (for example, domestic abuse, sexual violence, other violence, theft, and criminal damage);
  2. engaged in harassment on previous occasions against the victim or someone else;
  3. harmed the victim or anyone else (including family, or anyone else the victim may have had a relationship with, or stranger), physically or sexually;
  4. harmed animals - in particular harmed pets belonging to the victim or those close to the victim;
  5. breached an injunction, non-molestation order, other court order or bail conditions;
  6. encouraged other people to assist in the stalking or harassment (whether they are conscious of their involvement or not);
  7. considerable knowledge about the victim. In particular, the victim's work, home, personal lifestyle and movements (for example, due to the relationship with the victim or access to information as a result of the defendant's profession or expertise);
  8. an occupation/interests which are a source of concern (for example, access to weapons, firearms licence holder or access to confidential information);
  9. threatened or attempted suicide;
  10. a history of misuse of drugs (prescription or other) or alcohol; and mental health issues (including borderline personality disorders) or exhibit bizarre behaviour including evidence of delusions or hallucinations.

Once again, I am more than willing to allow people to prove me wrong, but, according the article, the author admitted to harassing the reviewer more regularly and making herself physically present at the reviewers address. It has also come to light that the author had previously been involved (and therefore there is relevant police evidence) in a violent or offending encounter on another occasion and had harassed and engaged in other similar behaviour with another reviewer on another occasion, as well as having considerable knowledge about said reviewer and her movements and access to confidential information (due to her future in-laws being involved with both a publishing house who had the reviewers information and newspaper and media outlets). According to these legal documents, the author in question is not only identifiable as a stalker, but could easily be prosecuted for these actions in a court of law, which could easily result in a maximum of 5 years imprisonment. This could also be proven in a court of law without the reviewer testifying because, once again, the physical proof aka the article is the most firm account of the facts, from the stalkers point of view.

Now that I have without doubt proven that, in the UK, the authors actions are both deemed as harassment and stalking and that she could quite easily be prosecuted without a seconds thought, let me move onto why this is causing such distress in the community.

Other authors, publishing houses and indeed, other bloggers, are standing by this authors actions, calling her 'brave' and the article 'fascinating', saying she did 'right in outing a catfisher' (which is a whole different matter entirely, covered extremely well in this post) and even going as far as to further promote the article as a 'fun' and 'educating' read.

These people are not only condoning the actions of the author, of her stalking and harassment, but they are promoting it in a positive light, making fun of a serious issue in society and making other reviewers and bloggers, like myself, not only afraid of doing what they enjoy doing, reviewing books and encouraging or discouraging their friends from reading them, but afraid of opening their mouths through fear of backlash, abuse or being harassed and stalked themselves.


There is never anything right, nor legal about harassing and stalking someone to make yourself feel better.
There is never anything right about promoting and publishing your stalking habits for the world to see.
There is never anything right about causing somebody, a group or a community of people to fear using their human rights. To speak. To come forth with their opinion. To do what makes them happy. There is absolutely nothing morally nor legally right about this and it has to stop, now.

There will be bloggers that now consider whether they should continue with their hobbies. Whether their happiness of sharing their opinion is worth the possibility of being accused, being verbally abused, being accused of things not true and being slandered for being honest, but I will not stand down. I will not be driven away from a hobby that has not only improved my confidence and my personal accomplishments, but as enabled me to create honest and true relationships with people all over the world, other bloggers and reviewers, other authors and other publishing houses. I will not be driven away from speaking out honestly and fairly about my opinion, about my feelings and my thoughts. I will not be made to feel as though I am not important, that my words have no meaning or control. I will continue what I do best, speaking, explaining and discussing subjects and books that matter to me. No author, publishing house or newspaper will stand in my way.

What Kathleen Hale and the Guardian did was not only immoral, but illegal.

No matter what the reviewer/blogger did beforehand, those actions don't excuse harassment or stalker-like behaviour.
To stand by them is to stand on the wrong side of the law, and the sooner people realise that, the better.
I hope other bloggers and reviewers won't be driven out of a hobby that they love by these actions and will remember that while there are some people in the world that aim to destroy, there are others who aim to create, love and cherish, and without reviewers and bloggers, the world of books would be a much more lonely and damned boring place.

All opinions expressed in this post are mine and mine alone.
All my legal evidence was provided by and can be found here.


  1. I just read Kathleen Hale's article and I cannot believe that she did what she did. The fact that the bloggers' details were able to be so readily available for her to abuse is astounding. It's just unbelievable that she knowingly and admittedly stalked someone who didn't like her book and that other people are standing with her. Shocking. The blogging community needs to band together - we will not be bullied by authors or publishers and we will not condone this behaviour. Thanks for writing about it and I'm glad they won't be scaring you off!

    1. It's absolutely shocking isn't it? I completely agree, by standing together, we can have our voices heard.
      I refuse to be scared off or driven away, I have a voice and I shall continue to use it :)

  2. *applauds loudly* I saw the outcry on twitter, but no one would link to the article. -_- So it did take me a while to find out what had gone down. I FEEL SICK AT THAT ARTICLE. I'm...I'm so absolutely gobsmacked that Hale did that and it got published as a legit article. The woman outright admitted to stalking. SHE USED THE WORD. Since when was stalking ever okay??? I'm furious. But sickened to that an author could be so freaking immature that she would harass someone who didn't like her book. She shouldn't be writing if she's not coping with the career. Sorry. But not sorry. And what made me even angrier is that all her friends in the article are like saying "don't engage" and SHE DID IT ANYWAY. LIKE SHE IS A LITTLE BIT OF A PSYCHOPATH. I'm sorry! It's just I'm a writer too and a book blogger, and I can't understand how people can condone harassment and just think it was interesting. What is our world even coming to?
    You addressed this so well though. I just need to clap forever and always.

    1. Thank you Cait! I can understand people not linking the article, I had to search to find it myself too.
      I can also COMPLETELY understand your anger, I mean, you're an aspiring author and blogger, you know it's wrong and feel so passionately about both your hobbies, it's crazy to think people find it acceptable to stalk and harass. Crazy times..

  3. Excellent, Amanda! I love the fact that you went as far as to quote legislation, because aside from people's personal opinions, that is what truly baffles me, that anyone (I'm looking at you Anne Rice) would support, agree with and condone her actions is insane, it's illegal! People have been prosecuted for less! And to be fair I've read other articles by, and about, Hale, and she doesn't come across as overly likable. I've said it before, and will continue to, that I felt so opinionated on how BH was being portrayed that I created an account on The Guardian and left comments pro-blogger, supporting the fact that BH isn't a "troll" as the ambiguity of the story would have you believe, and ALL of my comments and replies on Guardian's site have been deleted!! I have tweeted Guardian and HC (not that I think me tweeting will get a response - but I'm hopeful enough people will do it were it will become a mass thing) to see if they even have a response to this, surely, SURELY they can not stay silent on it?!

    My response:

    1. Thank you hunny. I really felt that the issue I had with the entire situation was that I was certain her actions were illegal and it seemed as though this was being completely ignored, so I had to speak out about that part for certain. She definitely doesn't appear to be likable, nor aware that her actions are actually immoral, illegal and nor does she have any remorse, which is most shocking. I do think there's something seriously amiss at The Guardian too, not only to publish it, but to remove pro-blogger comments without fair reason, thus not enabling a fair, balanced conversation between readers is also terrible.

  4. Great post! Definitely can't believe this happened. I included your post in my response for reference!

    1. Thank you Ellie, that means a lot to me :)

  5. *joins Cait giving applause – adds a standing ovation* Yes, exactly. You’ve said everything I’ve been thinking about since I read that article on Saturday. It’s sickened me so much. If they get away with it – and at the minute, unfortunately, it seems like it will be let slide – it sets up a terrifying question of what could, or heaven forbid, will, happen to someone else in Blythe's situation. It scares me that this could become a normal occurrence, and then just how far something like this could go. And all over hurt feelings! *shudders* Hell, every one of us gets our feelings hurt on a daily basis, and we find ways to cope with them that DO NOT involve stalking someone!! This proves that all bloggers need to support each other. Thank you for expressing everything I was thinking, but couldn't put down into words. <3 <3

    1. Thank you Alma. I really wanted to get the message out that what Hale did was completely illegal and it not acceptable at all. You're completely right though, everyone has their feelings hurt at some point, and more than likely often, it doesn't excuse the behaviour at all. I'm glad you enjoyed my post :)

  6. I think the worst part of what happened is that the author seems to legitimately think that she did not do anything wrong.
    The fact that there are people out there who think that it's ok to illegally obtain someone's address and go to there house, just because they may be using a pseudonym to write reviews...*shudders*
    Also, nice job with the research. A lot of people like to have fancy opinions on things that they know (virtually) nothing about. It's nice to see evidence in a post like this.
    Also, I'm glad you're not leaving. I love this blog.

    1. I agree Cassie, that is the most scary thing, that she doesn't understand, and that other people support her.
      And thank you for complimenting the research, I thought it was an important part of the argument, so I'm pleased it helped.

  7. Really great post Amanda, I have had many thoughts about the issue and I come to think that Kathleen Hale is definitely in the wrong and crossed the line. Fair enough Blythe was mean to her and cyberbullied the author, but we are entitled to our own opinion and she does not and should not be feeling unsafe in her own home. Bloggers and authors and the whole reading community definitely need to support each other, we need to look at situations like this based on the individual people who are antisocial, not typecast them if you know what I mean. Great post Amanda.

    1. Thank you Jeann. I completely agree, no matter what happened, no-one should have to fear living at home.

  8. I'm still trying to write my post about this! You know what I am like in my ranting and I am trying to be rational about it. But I am really angry about what the author did. But I am more angry about how she has reacted after the fact. She has not apologised! I am 100% certain that she feels she is justified in what she did for some reason or another. It's not the first time she has spoken badly about bloggers in general either. Nor the first time she has stalked someone. She seriously needs help! And I don't feel that half the things she accused Blythe of are true. Like the extent of Blythe's harassment and cyber-bullying of her. Her basic idea is that if you don't like a book then you should go write your own, not write a bad review of the book. She clearly shouldn't write books for a living, she seems to not understand how entertainment works. The same happens with shows, movies, concerts... anything. Some will love it, some will like it and some will hate it. That's just the way it is. You have no control over that and no control over what people say once they have paid for a product and aren't satisfied with it. GAH!!! SO ANNOYED! HAHA! I'm gonna stop ranting now ;)

    1. I had never planned on writing a post if I'm honest, I only planned to research whether it was illegal and BOOM, whole essay on the subject, whoops! Hale has no remorse for her actions, and that only angers me further. Ranting is fine though, we all need to let off steam about this, and I more than happy for you to do it to me! :)

  9. I wonder how these authors who support Hale would react if bloggers who hate their book start phoning them at work or turning up on their doorstep or abusing them online. I think their reaction would be VERY different. Great article!

    1. I know, it's a really fair question and many don't understand that at all. Thank you :)

  10. What a well-written blog post. I'm shocked by what happened and how some people support Hale. I don't understand.. how would they feel if she would stand at their door, call their work, etc? I first wanted to write a post, but decided a lot of people already said what I wanted to say in a much better way.

    1. Thank you Mel! I don't understand how people can support her either, it was completely illegal, where's the law in this?!
      I do think some people have said it better than I have, but I just needed to say my piece really, get the rage out :)

  11. Oh this can't be true. I've read the newest post by notebook sisters and found this article. It's so terrible what she did and I can't believe people are supporting her. Stalking just because a blogger wrote a bad review is not okay. Where did she even get the adress? I'm a bit paranoid and this only shows me I should never give my adress to anyone. I really hope Kathleen Hale will get a punishment for this and I don't care if this is about ignoring her books or whatever. Just don't let her get away easily. What did she think she is doing?! I'm sure I have maaany mistakes in this comment, because I'm so angry about it and can't believe it, but I just don't care in this moment.

    1. Oh it's definitely not good. No worries May, it's good to get the rage out, it's shocking and wrong and shouldn't be allowed..


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