The Wheel of Change Moves On: Assessing the Severity of Stalking Behavior

Ewa B. Stefanska, Nicholas Longpré, Rekayla S. Harriman

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Abstract

Stalking can be defined as a pattern of repeated, unwanted behaviours by one person to another. These behaviours may take the form of communicative intrusion, third-party contact and physical or sexual assault. The individual stalking behaviours experienced by victims have been found to differ in every case, specifically dependent on their stalker-victim relationship. Recent tragedies have shown that the police force generally underestimates the risk of ex-intimate stalking and harassment behaviours. This study aims to identify patterns of stalking behaviours from a victim’s perspective, specifically, whether there are any patterns of behaviour among the ex-intimate stalkers, in comparison to acquaintance or stranger stalkers. Information from the accounts of individuals who had reported unwanted experiences as a result of one of three stalker-victim relationships (ex-intimate, acquaintance or stranger) was extracted from the National Stalking Helpline database. Analyses were conducted on a sample of 1626 victims’ reports. One-way ANOVA and multiple logistic regressions were conducted to establish any common patterns of behaviour among the subgroups of stalkers and to ascertain which behaviours increased the odds of being categorised as an ex-intimate stalker. Results indicated that ex-intimate stalkers presented considerably more behaviours than acquaintance or stranger stalkers; some of which included third-party contact, criminal damage, physical and sexual assault. Results also indicated that ex-intimate stalkers presented more severe behaviours than the other subgroups. The majority of stalking behaviours were found to produce a statistically significant predictive contribution to being classed as an ex-intimate stalker. The findings in this study highlight that common misconception surrounding ex-intimate stalking still exists at every level of the Criminal Justice System. Results and implications for future research are discussed.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Early online date8 May 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2021

Keywords

  • stalking
  • severity
  • violence
  • scale
  • behavioural indicators

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