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Being Pursued: Stalking Victimization in a National Study of College Women

NCJ Number
Criminology & Public Policy Volume: 1 Issue: 2 Dated: March 2002 Pages: 257-308
Date Published
52 pages

This article presents the results of a national survey of college women regarding stalking.


The national telephone survey of a random sample of 4,446 women attending 2 year and 4 year colleges and universities was conducted during the 1996 to 1997 academic year. Because the survey included detailed questions on each stalking incident, the context in which stalking occurred was explored. This included the form, duration, intensity, and location of the stalking, the victim-offender relationship, victim injuries and reactions to the stalking, and whether the stalking was reported and to whom. Results showed that the sample experienced 696 incidents. The number of victims was 581 -- a figure that was lower than the count of stalkings because 15 percent of the women experienced more than one stalking. Stalkers used non-physically visible means to attract the attention of the victim. More than three-fourths of the incidents involved telephone calls, 3 in 10 involved letters, and a quarter involved email messages. Stalkers were often physically visible to victims. In half the incidents, they were seen waiting for the victim, whereas in more than 4 in 10 cases they followed the victim or watched the victim from afar. Stalkers typically had multiple contacts with the victim. On average, each stalking involved 2.9 forms of pursuit behavior. The typical stalking is not brief but rather persists for about 2 months. The majority of the stalkings did not appear to have involved explicit physical threats or lasting injuries. Four in five victims reported knowing their stalker. In nearly three-fourths of the stalkings, victims reported that they had taken actions as a result of their stalking. The most common response was to avoid or to try to avoid the stalker. Overall, 83 percent of the incidents were not reported to the police or campus law enforcement officials. Women with a higher propensity to be at places with alcohol had higher odds of being stalked than women who did not frequent such places. These results suggest that this type of victimization is a public policy issue that warrants recognition and prevention. 7 tables, 16 footnotes, 123 references

Date Published: January 1, 2002