Impact of stalking

There’s a danger that by focusing solely on the physical risk posed by violent stalkers, it allows those who cause emotional damage to continue their behaviour. If we are to support and protect victims of stalking effectively, the justice system needs to recognise the potential of non-violent offenders to cause significant and long-lasting harm.

Dr Katy Proctor
Lecturer in Criminology and Policing

Non-violent stalking can cause lasting psychological damage to victims and should be treated as seriously as domestic abuse by the criminal justice system, according to new research from Glasgow Caledonian University.

More than 125 stalking victims from across Scotland were asked to detail their experiences as part of a survey conducted by Dr Katy Proctor, lecturer in criminology and policing.

Victims reported suicide attempts, anxiety, depression, a loss of confidence and feelings of isolation. Some changed jobs and moved house after being targeted.

The actions of their stalker had an impact on all aspects of their lives, from their mental and physical health to employment and social life.

Stalking behaviours ranged from sexual assault, harassment, and threats of violence, to spying, remote surveillance, making unwanted phone calls, and sending unwanted notes or letters, texts, emails and social media messages.

Of the 128 victims who took part in the survey, 87% were stalked by someone who was known to them. Around one in three, 34%, were targeted by a partner or an ex-partner, 24% were stalked by an acquaintance and 11% by a work colleague. Three in four of those who took part, 76%, were women who were stalked by men.