Stalked by a stranger for seven years

<figure class=”media-landscape” no-caption full-width lead”> Image copyright Chloe Hopkins

She was an 18-year-old beauty queen with hopes of a music career, but a chance encounter with a stranger led to seven years of hell for Chloe Hopkins.

Stalked, harassed and bombarded with abusive messages online, her obsessed pursuer drove her to depression and bulimia.

A diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder followed and at her lowest ebb she attempted suicide.

But now she says she is “stronger than ever”.

Image copyright David Francis Photography
Image caption The abuse began when Miss Hopkins was crowned Miss Prestatyn in 2010

He would be there all the time. No matter where I went, he’d be there.

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When it started in 2010, everything seemed to be set in place for my future.

I’d just passed my driving test, I was a beauty queen, I was about to be signed by Universal Music Management.

I thought my life was going to change for the good but little did I know that’s not how it was going to be.

I’d just been crowned Miss Prestatyn and I’d been asked to switch on the Christmas lights.

As I was going around meeting and greeting people, that’s when I bumped into him. I shook his hand, said ‘My name is Chloe, I’m your new Miss Prestatyn, Merry Christmas’ and it went from there.

Soon he started sending me Facebook messages, following me at every single event, following me home, bombarding me with post – birthday cards, Valentine’s cards, Christmas cards.

When I said to him, ‘This is too much, you need to stop’, he took it in a very wrong way.

<figure class=”media-landscape” has-caption full-width”> Image copyright David Francis Photography

Image caption Miss Hopkins’ stalker would follow her to events while she was Miss Prestatyn

He ended up putting hate petitions online about me, standing outside my house – he even got a tattoo of my name on his chest.

He followed me to Manchester, Chester, Liverpool. I’d go out with friends and he would be there, taking photos of me.

Being 18, I was very naive so I just kept thinking he’d get bored eventually.

But it got worse and worse, so I ended up telling my family. After a year, I thought ‘This is it, I’ve got to call the police’.

They wanted evidence. I’d ripped up the cards he gave me, but I had plenty of evidence online and there were plenty of photos from when I was Miss Prestatyn where he would be in the background.

I built up a portfolio to show police.

<figure class=”media-landscape” has-caption full-width”> Image copyright David Francis Photography

Image caption Miss Hopkins’ pursuer would also turn up where she was performing

He was cautioned but he took no notice.

He was later given a restraining order but he said it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. From then on it got worse and we ended up going to court, where he was eventually jailed for the first time in 2012.

I felt a bit of relief, thinking he might learn from this. But he waited until after his licence was up and struck again by giving me and my then-boyfriend abuse.

We went back to court and he got sent down. When he came out again I didn’t hear anything for a whole year. I thought, maybe, finally, I’ve got a bit of freedom.

So I packed up and went to London to focus on my music career but he sent me abuse again online.

He would call me slut, a whore.

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Image caption Speaking outside court in 2012, Miss Hopkins said she believed her stalker needed help

I became very isolated and didn’t know who to trust, who to talk to. I felt embarrassed, I didn’t know if people would judge me for it.

I was in a very, very small place where I just had my mum and dad, and the odd friend and that was it.

I didn’t really go out much because I thought he was going to be there.

That bubbly, happy 18-year-old girl just completely went. I went from a massive high to a massive low.

I got diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and became bulimic, losing almost three stone.

People who used to know me wouldn’t have recognised me. I didn’t even recognise myself.

I did a show in 2011 and there’s a video of it on YouTube, I was on autopilot; dead behind the eyes.

I spent most of my time in a room with my friend watching horror movies because I just felt so down and ill.

<figure class=”media-landscape” has-caption full-width”> Image copyright Chloe Hopkins

Image caption Miss Hopkins says she now feels like herself again

I was very anxious and nervous. At night I would lie in bed thinking ‘What did I do that was so wrong to upset this bloke?’ Because I still do not know.

I was going over and over it in my head but everybody was telling me ‘You’ve done nothing wrong’.

But it’s the type of person I am – I worry and over-think sometimes.

I wasn’t sleeping so one day I thought ‘I need to go to sleep, I need a break from all this, I want to shut off’, and I took a handful of anti-depressants.

My mum found me and called an ambulance. I was shaking, having a nose bleed and was very dizzy and sick.

Looking back, I was really ill. But the person I am now, I feel a lot happier, I feel like me.

But it took me a lot of time and a lot of patience, a lot of counselling, a lot of support.

Going to court was very daunting. I gave evidence behind a screen and I had to go through everything.

<figure class=”media-landscape” has-caption full-width”> Image copyright Chloe Hopkins

Image caption Miss Hopkins is now recording music again

When he was jailed in 2016 I felt relieved but thought for how long? After seven years [of stalking me]. He didn’t even do a year inside, he did half so I wasn’t particularly happy with the result.

Only now I feel a bit more comfortable talking about it.

I’m going out a bit more, going to counselling, writing again, listening to music and just trying to find myself again.

Even though he’s out of prison, I’m not afraid any more. I’m just getting on with my life and I hope he gets on with his.

Part of me feels sorry for him because he might not realise that he has this problem. But he’s also made me a very strong, wiser person.

I’m now an ambassador for the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and the National Stalking Helpline.

That’s been a massive support because I’ve been able to raise awareness of stalking and speak to people who are going through it.

<figure class=”media-landscape” has-caption full-width”> Image copyright Chloe Hopkins

Image caption Miss Hopkins’ album Once Upon a Time will be released in November

It does take time, but you do get better. It took me seven years but I’m here, I’m back now and I’m ready to go.

I’ve got my debut album coming out in November and a concert in Rhyl.

I want to inspire people to never give up on what you want. It’s a short life and we should all be entitled to live it to the absolute max and never be put off by bullies.

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