Intimate Partner Stalking

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

Research shows that partner [1] stalking is a relatively common form of violence against women, and to a lesser degree men.

  • Partner stalking is the largest category of stalking cases. [2-5]
  • Approximately 1 in 6 women (16.2%) in the United States has experienced stalking at some point in her lifetime, according to the CDC's 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. About 4%, or approximately 5.2 million women, were stalked in the 12 months prior to taking the survey. Two-thirds of the female victims of stalking (66.2%) reported stalking by a current or former intimate partner in their lifetime. [6]
  • Approximately 1 in 19 men (5.2%) in the United States has experienced stalking victimization at some point during his lifetime in which he felt very fearful or believed that he or someone close to him would be harmed or killed as a result, and 1.3% of men (about 1.4 million) reported being stalked in the 12 months prior to taking the survey. Approximately 4 out of 10 male stalking victims (41.4%) reported that they had been stalked by an intimate partner in their lifetime. [7]
  • College women appear to experience partner stalking at high rates. Approximately 5.3 percent of female college students from a large national sample of students reporting being stalked by an intimate partner in about a 7-month period.[8] For this study, stalking was defined to include repeated following; waiting outside a classroom, residence, workplace, or other buildings or car; watching; telephoning; writing letters, cards, emails, etc.; and communicating with the respondent in other ways that seemed obsessive and made the respondent afraid or concerned for her safety.
  • Another smaller study of college women found that 6.9 percent of the sample was stalked by a current or former partner. [9]

Relationship Context. Partner stalking overlaps with a history of partner physical and sexual violence and coercive control. [10-24] Several studies have identified a significant association between partner stalking and sexual assault. [25-31]

  • 74 percent of those stalked by a former intimate partner reported violence or coercive control during the relationship, whereas 26 percent did not. [32]
  • 81 percent of women stalked by a former or current partner were also physically assaulted by that partner. [33]

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[note 1] Although studies vary in how "intimate partner" is defined, most definitions include current and former husbands, cohabitants, and boyfriends and girlfriends. Some studies explicitly include "dates," whereas others do not specify where "dates" would be categorized (i.e., intimate partner or acquaintance).

[note 2] Mohandie, K., J. Meloy, M. McGowan and J. Williams, "The RECON Typology of Stalking: Reliability and Validity Based Upon a Large Sample of North American Stalkers," Journal of Forensic Science 51(1) (2006): 147-155.

[note 3][note 29] Roberts, A., and S. Dziegielewski, "Changing Stalking Patterns and Prosecutorial Decisions: Bridging the Present to Future," Victims and Offenders 1 (2006): 47-60.

[note 4] Spitzberg, B., and W. Cupach, "The State of the Art Stalking: Taking Stock of the Emerging Literature," Aggression and Violent Behavior 12 (2007): 64-86.

[note 5][9],[33] Tjaden, P., and N. Thoennes, "Stalking in America: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey," final report to the National Institute of Justice, National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1998, NCJ 169592.

[note 6][note 7] Black, M.C., K.C. Basile, M.J. Breiding, S.G. Smith, M.L. Walters, M.T. Merrick, J. Chen, and M.R. Stevens, "The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report (pdf, 124 pages)," Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.

[note 8] Fisher, B., F. Cullen and M. Turner, "Being Pursued: Stalking Victimization in a National Study of College Women," Criminology and Public Policy 1(2) (2002): 257-308.

[note 9] 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 10] Basile, K., I. Arias, S. Desai and M. Thompson, "The Differential Association of Intimate Partner Physical, Sexual, Psychological, and Stalking Violence and Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms in a Nationally Representative Sample of Women," Journal of Traumatic Stress 17(5) (2004): 413-421.

[note 11] Brewster, M., "Exploration of the Experiences and Needs of Former Intimate Partner Stalking Victims," final report to the National Institute of Justice, grant number 1995-WT-NX-0002, 1999.

[note 12][note 31][note 32] Brewster, M., "Power and Control Dynamics in Pre-stalking and Stalking Situations," Journal of Family Violence 18(4) (2003): 207-217.

[note 13] [note 25] 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 14] Coleman, F., "Stalking Behavior and the Cycle of Domestic Violence," Journal of Interpersonal Violence 12(3) (1997): 420-432.

[note 15] Cupach, W., and B. Spitzberg, The Dark Side of Relationship Pursuit: From Attraction to Obsession and Stalking, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2004.

[note 16] Davis, K., A. Ace and M. Andra, "Stalking Perpetrators and Psychological Maltreatment of Partners: Anger-Jealousy, Attachment Insecurity, Need for Control, and Break-up Context," Violence and Victims 15(4) (2000): 407-425.

[note 17] [note 26] Logan, T., and J. Cole, "The Intersection of Partner Stalking and Sexual Abuse," Violence Against Women

[note 18] 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 19] Logan, T., C. Leukefeld and R. Walker, "Stalking as a Variant of Intimate Violence: Implications from a Young Adult Sample," Violence and Victims 15(1) (2000): 91-111.

[note 20] 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 21] [note 28] 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 22] Roberts, K., "Stalking Following the Breakup of Romantic Relationships: Characteristics of Stalking Former Partners," Journal of Forensic Science 47(5) (2002): 1-8.

[note 23] Roberts, K., "Associated Characteristics of Stalking Following the Termination of Remantic Relationships," Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice 1(1) (2005): 15-35.

[note 24] Spitzberg, B. and Rhea, J., "Obsessive Relational Intrusion and Sexual Coercion Victimization, Journal of Interpersonal Violence 14(1) (1999): 3-20.

[note 27] Logan, T., J. Col 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.

Date Created: April 20, 2012