There is a common myth that stalking is only experienced by celebrities or perhaps carried out by people with severe mental health problems. The popular media often sensationalises stalking cases so that we believe that it happens rarely and in the most extreme of circumstances.
In reality stalking is experienced by many people across the country to the extent that their lives are completely controlled by it. It is often carried out by ex-partners and is a method by which domestic abuse can carry on long after separation. A recent survey revealed that only 10% of stalkers were unknown to their victims.
Although women also stalk men and other women, statistics show us that in the vast majority of cases it is men who stalk women. This does not in any way diminish the trauma experienced by men who experience stalking, but for the purpose of this booklet, we will be dealing with stalking perpetrated by men upon women.
In their 1998 study, Tjaden & Thoennes found that ‘stalking is a gendered crime: most stalking victims are female’. They found that 78% of stalking victims in their study were female, while in her 2005 study for Leicester University, Dr Lorraine Sheridan found that 86% of victims were female.
Tjaden & Thoennes also found that 31% of women who were stalked also experienced sexual violence while Dr Sheridan’s survey showed that 18% of respondents had experienced sexual violence within the context of the stalking behaviour.
The impact of this stalking can be far reaching. Dr Sheridan’s research showed that 92% of respondents reported physical effects including rape and physical injuries inflicted by the stalker, while 98% reported emotional effects including anxiety, depression, suicide attempts, self harm and post traumatic stress disorder.
The Rape Crisis Centre recognises the gendered nature of stalking behaviour and the clear links to other forms of male violence against women.
The Rape Crisis Centre would like to thank Police Scotland for their invaluable contribution to this section.
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