THE PSYCHOLOGY OF STALKING
Davies, G.M., Leicester University, United Kingdom
Stalking, or obsessive following, is a form of anti-social behaviour that has been criminalized in many countries in the last few years. Yet, very little is known about the frequency of such behavior, the motivation of stalkers, the various forms that stalking can take and the impact of stalking on its victims. A research program conducted by Lorraine Sheridan and the author has sought to shed light on all of these issues as well as to provide some estimates of prevalence within the United Kingdom. Results suggest that as many as 20% of women and 5% of men have suffered some form of stalking. Stalking behaviors can vary from persistent intrusive phone calls through to life-threatening attacks upon the victim or his or her immediate family. Duration can vary from months to many years. Most stalkers will have had some prior acquaintance with their victims, but as many as 20% of stalkers will be previously unknown. Stalkers themselves appear to be a heterogeneous group who do not respond uniformly to the normal rules of deterrence and punishment. A classification system is proposed which embraces most types of stalking behavior and the implications for the management of such offenders by law enforcement agencies are discussed.