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According to findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, eight percent of women and two percent of men in the United States have been stalked in their lifetime. (National Institute of Justice. 1998. Stalking in America: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice.)

Based on an analysis of 103 studies of stalking-related phenomena representing 70,000 participants, the prevalence across studies for women who have been stalked was 23.5 percent and for men was 10.5 percent. The stalking averaged a duration of nearly two years. (Spitzberg, B. 2002. “The Tactical Topography of Stalking Victimization and Management.” Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 3(4).)

The average physical violence incidence rate in the above-mentioned study was 33 percent and the incidence of sexual violence was over 10 percent. (Ibid.)

According to the above-mentioned analysis, restraining orders against stalkers were violated an average of 40 percent of the time. In almost 21 percent of the time, the victim perceived that the behavior following the implementation of the order worsened. (Ibid.)

A recent analysis of 13 published studies of 1,155 stalking cases found that the average overall rate of violence experienced by the victims was 38.7 percent. (Rosenfeld, B. 2004. “Violence Risk Factors in Stalking and Obsessional Harassment.” Criminal Justice and Behavior, 31(1).)

Stalkers with a prior intimate relationship are more likely to verbally intimidate and physically harm their victims than stranger stalkers. Among six different studies, risk factors for violence ranged from 45 percent to as high as 89 percent among stalkers with prior intimate relations with victims compared to risk factors for stalkers who targeted strangers or acquaintances, which ranged from five percent to 14 percent. (Ibid.)

History of substance abuse proves to be one of the strongest predictors of increased rates of violence in stalking crimes. In combination, the strongest risk markers for assessing the likelihood of stalking violence are: 1) threats and intimidation; 2) the existence of prior intimate relationships; and 3) substance abuse. (Ibid.)

Stalking in the context of intimate partner violence often goes unreported as a crime. In an analysis of 1,731 domestic violence police reports, 16.5 percent included a narrative description of stalking behavior, yet the victim used the term “stalking” in only 2.9 percent of the cases and the officer used the term “stalking” in only 7.4 percent of the cases. (Tjaden, P. and Thoennes, N. 2001. Stalking: Its Role In Serious Domestic Violence Cases. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice.)

Stalking allegations are more prevalent in reports involving domestic violence victims and suspects when they are former rather than current intimates. Of domestic violence reports involving formerly dating couples and co-habitants, stalking was involved in 47.4 percent of the reported cases. Of reports involving separated or divorced couples, stalking occurred in 32.7 percent of the cases. When stalking was reported in domestic violence cases involving married couples the rate dropped to 9.6 percent; for co-habiting couples, it dropped to 6.7 percent; and for dating couples, it dropped to 19.7 percent. (Ibid.)

The prevalence of anxiety, insomnia, social dysfunction, and severe depression is much higher among stalking victims than the general population, especially if the stalking involves being followed or having one's property destroyed. (Blaauw, E., et al. 2002. “The Toll of Stalking.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 17(1).)

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National Crime Victims' Rights Week: Justice Isn't Served Until Crime Victims Are April 10–16, 2005
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