LAST week I wrote about how threats to do harm have become the norm in our digital age. I apologise, because I am writing about it again out of necessity.

I am lucky enough to have a column and a public profile that means people read what I write. This week I would like to send a plea to the police, the Government, and tech companies to take the online abuse of women seriously. For far too long we have been screaming into the void, with a little more than lip service paid to the new grim reality we face as our offline and online worlds converge.

I am no stranger to trolls. I am no stranger to a disgruntled reader who disagrees vehemently with my opinions in the comments section. But I am also no stranger to being stalked online. I am fully aware that may sound melodramatic to those who have not experienced it, a reaction which in turn makes it extremely difficult to persuade the police to take a campaign of harassment seriously. But I do not use the word “stalk” frivolously.

Right now, I am writing this column in the BBC. I had to ask a colleague to come and escort me here, so I can write this with the peace of mind that comes from doing it behind a security checkpoint.

An hour ago I received a message in Morse code sent to my Instagram by someone who has been harassing me for 12 months. The campaign has used private photographs, graphic sexual imagery, misogynistic abuse and threats. Earlier this week the stalker found a picture of my child, and Photoshopped his face on to a Holocaust victim.

The reason I am hiding here is that things have escalated, with intimations of an imminent attack. Today’s coded message was left on a selfie. It came from an account with “now in Scotland” as the location and a bottle of hydrochloric acid as a profile picture. The code said: “pretty for now”.

In the past I have contacted the police and received little support. The last time I was visited by them I had to explain who Anne Frank was after they mistook her picture for me, and why sending that along with the username “fatjewishjourno” to me was a problem. It didn’t go well. It has not gone well any time I have asked the police to help. Trying to get Instagram to take it seriously has been even more of a challenge.

That is precisely why I am writing this – to beg, publicly, for help. I know I am not the only woman who is experiencing this sort of thing, and it feels like we are being left to become a statistic. It is not good enough. Something has to change.

I’m extremely lucky to be one of the few people in life who get to do their dream job as a career. I get to write for a living, make programmes and channel my passions and skills into making things for other people to learn from or enjoy.

Journalism is in my blood. When I was a little girl I would make fake patchwork magazines from bits of Smash Hits, Shout, and Top of the Pops magazine. Other days I would spend hours alone in my room with a boom box and a double tape recorder creating my own programmes, delighting in talking about birds or guitars are my favourite songs for an imaginary listenership. And then there was my typewriter, on which I would write stories destined for my grandparents’ drawer where they kept all of the things I made for them.

Some days I marvel at my present situation. I somehow managed to take that little girl’s dreams and make them into a bona fide career.

But this part of my job, where I am terrorised by anonymous strangers, did not feature in those dreams. It didn’t even feature in my most ghoulish nightmares then, but I would be lying if I said I slept soundly on a regular basis now. As a little girl who wanted to be a journalist I never imagined that I would spend so much time fielding abuse from strangers, or being faced with serious threats to my safety. What I cannot fathom now is that it is so difficult to get help from those who are supposed to be able to protect you.

I would like to say that my passion for this job burns with such intensity that, even if I’d been given a means to look at my future, I would have continued to pursue this career regardless. But regularly feeling sick to your stomach with fear, and being hyperaware of strangers who approach you in the street for fear that they just might do something, gets old pretty quickly. Knowing what I know now, understanding the impact on my health and wellbeing that comes at the hands of anonymous online abusers, I’m not so sure I would have continued.

What is clear to me is that the police want to do the right thing regarding cyber crime, but are in no way able to follow through adequately. What’s also clear is that protection mechanisms on social media platforms are woefully unfit for purpose. There is no means of providing context that would allow the platform to understand the contours of a particular situation. All I have available to me is a standardised reporting form, which only allows me to choose from a range of options. There is no mechanism that allows you to report a sustained campaign of sophisticated harassment to Instagram. Because of this, it makes the police’s job even more difficult as the onus is on them to establish a pattern. This is a reporting system so full of holes, it’s practically a net.

So this is reality. Waiting on the police to return my call, being too afraid to leave a building unaccompanied and begging like a hungry dog for my safety to be taken seriously.