Intimate Partner Stalking: Comparing Abusive Partners Who Do and Do Not Stalk

This Web page is based on Research on Partner Stalking: Putting the Pieces Together (pdf, 27 pages), prepared by T.K. Logan for NIJ.

When comparing the dangerousness and characteristics of partner stalking, it is important to examine differences between abusive partners who stalk and abusive partners who do not stalk.

On this page, find:

Prevalence of Stalking by Abusive Partners 

More than half of partner violence victims are stalked by their partners.

  • Several studies have found that between 50 percent and 60 percent of partner violence victims report ever being stalked by that partner. [1-5]
  • The vast majority of partner violence victims who report ever being stalked by a violent partner report being stalked the year prior to obtaining a protective order (approximately 90 percent). [6][7]
  • Thirty percent of domestic violence offenders in offender treatment reported stalking behaviors toward their victim. [8]

Danger of Violence from Stalking Versus Non-Stalking Abusive Partners

Research suggests that abusive partners who stalk are more violent than those who do not stalk.

  • Stalking was highly prevalent in cases of actual or attempted femicides. [9][10] Approximately 90 percent of actual or attempted lethality victims who experienced a physical assault in the preceding year were also stalked by the violent partner. [11]
  • Studies suggest that partner stalkers were more controlling and physically and sexually violent in the prior relationship compared to abusers who do not stalk their victims. [12-18]
  • A study of domestic violence police records concluded that domestic violence cases with elements or charges of stalking were more threatening and violent than domestic violence cases without stalking. [19]
  • Several studies indicate women stalked by a violent partner after obtaining a protective order are more likely to experience almost every other kind of abuse and violence compared to women not stalked after a protective order, even after controlling for a number of relevant factors. [20][21]
    • Women who were stalked by a violent partner after obtaining a protective order were 4 times more likely to experience physical assault, 9.3 times more likely to experience sexual assault, and 4.7 times more likely to be injured than women with protective orders who were not stalked. [22][23]
    • Victims who were stalked after obtaining a protective order experienced more overall violations and more severe violence than victims who experienced ongoing violations but who were not stalked, even after controlling for past history of violence and other relevant factors. [24]
  • Prior history of stalking is associated with future stalking. [25-28] For example, of those stalked after the protective order, 78 percent were stalked before the protective order was obtained; the other 22 percent indicated the stalking was initiated after the protective order was issued. [29]
  • Even though prior history of stalking is associated with future stalking behavior, several studies suggest that the majority of partner stalkers discontinue their stalking behavior after a civil protective order is obtained against them (61-65 percent). [30-32] That means, however, that about 35 percent to 39 percent of stalkers continued to stalk their victims after a protective order was obtained. [33-36]

Characteristics of Stalking Versus Non-Stalking Abusive Partners

Research on the characteristics of partner violence offenders who stalk compared with partner violence offenders who do not stalk is limited. A few studies suggest that abusive partners who stalk have higher rates of drug and alcohol use. [37-40]


[note 1] Douglas, K., and D. Dutton, "Assessing the Link between Stalking and Domestic Violence," Aggression and Violent Behavior 6 (2001): 519-546.

[note 2] Harrell, A., B. Smith and L. Newmark, Court Processing and the Effects of Restraining Orders for Domestic Violence Victims, Washington, DC: Urban Institute, 1993.

[note 3], [note 7], [note 16], [note 25], [note 32], [note 36] Logan, T., L. Shannon and J. Cole, "Stalking Victimization in the Context of Intimate Partner Violence," Violence and Victims 22(6) (2007): 669-683.

[note 4] Logan, T., R. Walker, W. Hoyt and T. Faragher, "The Kentucky Civil Protective Order Study: A Rural and Urban Multiple Perspective Study of Protective Order Violation Consequences, Responses, and Costs" (pdf, 183 pages), Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, 2009, NCJ 228350.

[note 5][note 17] Mechanic, M., M. Uhlmansiek, T. Weaver and P. Resick, "The Impact of Severe Stalking Experienced by Acutely Battered Women: An Examination of Violence, Psychological Symptoms and Strategic Responding," Violence and Victims 15(4) (2000): 443-458.

[note 6], [note 26], [note 29], [note 31], [note 34] Logan, T., and R. Walker, "Toward a Deeper Understanding of the Harms Caused by Partner Stalking," Violence and Victims 25(4) (2010): 440-455.

[note 8], [note 37] Buhi, E., H. Clayton and H. Surrency, "Stalking Victimization Among College Women and Subsequent Help-seeking Behaviors," Journal of American College Health 57(4) (2009): 419-425.

[note 9], [note 11] McFarlane, J., J. Campbell, S. Wilt, C. Sachs, Y. Ulrich and X. Xu, "Stalking and Intimate Partner Femicide," Homicide Studies 3(4) (1999): 300-316.

[note 10] McFarlane, J., J. Campbell and K. Watson, "Intimate Partner Stalking and Femicide: Urgent Implications for Women's Safety," Behavioral Sciences and the Law 20 (2002): 51-68.

[note 12] Cole, J., T. Logan and L. Shannon, "Intimate Sexual Victimization Among Women with Protective Orders: Types and Associations of Physical and Mental Health Problems," Violence and Victims 20(6) (2005): 695-715.

[note 13], [note 19], [note 27] Klein, A.K., A. Salomon, N. Huntington, J. Dubois and D. Lang, "A Statewide Study of Stalking and Its Criminal Justice Response," final report to the National Institute of Justice, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, 2009, NCJ 228354.

[note 14] Logan, T., and J. Cole, "The Intersection of Partner Stalking and Sexual Abuse," Violence Against Women 17(7) (2011): 904-924.

[note 15] Logan, T., J. Cole and L. Shannon, "A Mixed Methods Examination of Sexual Coercion and Degradation Among Women in Violent Relationships Who Do and Do Not Report Forced Sex," Violence and Victims 22(1) (2007): 71-94.

[note 18], [note 28], [note 38] Melton, H., "Predicting the Occurrence of Stalking in Relationships Characterized by Domestic Violence," Journal of Interpersonal Violence 22(1) (2007): 3-25.

[note 20], [note 22] Logan, T., and R. Walker, "Civil Protective Order Outcomes: Violations and Perceptions of Effectiveness," Journal of Interpersonal Violence 24(4) (2009): 675-692.

[note 23] Controlling for other relevant factors including physical and sexual violence severity history. Numbers reported are Relative Risk Ratios.

[note 21], [note 24] Logan, T., and R. Walker, "Civil Protective Order Effectiveness: Justice or Just a Piece of Paper?" Violence and Victims 25(3) (2010): 332-348.

[note 39] Melton, H., "Stalking in the Context of Domestic Violence: Findings On the Criminal Justice System," Women and Criminal Justice 15, ¾ (2004): 33-58.

[note 30], [note 33] Häkkänen, H., C. Hagelstam and P. Santtila, "Stalking Actions, Prior Offender-Victim Relationships and Issuing of Restraining Orders in a Finnish Sample of Stalkers," Legal and Criminological Psychology 8 (2003): 189-206.

[note 35] Logan, T., and J. Cole, "The Impact of Partner Stalking on Mental Health and Protective Order Outcomes Over Time," Violence and Victims 22(5) (2007): 546-562.

[note 39] Roberts, K., "Stalking Following the Breakup of Romantic Relationships: Characteristics of Stalking Former Partners," Journal of Forensic Science 47(5) (2002): 1-8.

[note 40] Willson, P., J. McFarlane, A. Malecha, K. Watson, D. Lemmey, P. Schultz, J. Gist and N. Fredland, "Severity of Violence Against Women by Intimate Partners and Associated Use of Alcohol and/or Illicit Drugs by the Perpetrator," Journal of Interpersonal Violence 15(9) (2000): 996-1008.

Date Created: April 20, 2012