Stopping the stalker: Victim responses to stalking. An examination of victim responses to determine factors affecting the intensity and duration of stalking
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It is estimated that 19 per cent of women in Australia will be stalked at some stage in their life.1 Victims of stalking are exposed to threatening behaviours over prolonged periods of time and their experiences have been described by them as “emotional or psychological rape”, “psychological terrorism”, and “rape without sex”. Research has shown that the more victimisation a person experiences, the more he or she resorts to a variety of attempts to manage the stalking behaviour. Many methods have attracted criticism, specifically the use of civil injunctions to reduce the risk of violence and continued stalking. However, there have been few studies which have explored the methods deployed by victims that have then yielded empirical evidence showing how a particular intervention impacts on an offender and how this might reduce stalking behaviours. Should a victim respond to stalking? What is the best method of responding? Can a victim benefit from responding at an early stage of victimisation? This article discusses the phenomenon of stalking, victim responses, and factors that may escalate stalking behaviour. It is posited that duration and intensity of stalking, in addition to the risk and harm to victims, can be reduced by researching the effectiveness of myriad proposed responses outlined by academics, practitioners, and law enforcement agencies. The authors draw on Cohen and Felson’s Routine Activities Theory, which highlights the fact that everyday behaviours have an impact on offending and victimisation. Ultimately, the following looks to inform best practices in the strategic intervention of stalking by distinguishing maladaptive and adaptive victim initiated responses.
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