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Experiences of Stalking Victims and Requests for Help in Three European Countries: A Survey

NCJ Number
European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research Volume: 15 Issue: 3 Dated: 2009 Pages: 243-260
Gian M. Galeazzi; Ales Bucar-Rueman; Laura DeFazio; Anne Groenen
Date Published
18 pages
In order to examine the experiences of stalking victims who have sought help in various European countries, a survey was completed by 145 stalking victims in Belgium, 126 in Italy, and 120 in Slovenia.
The study found that the stalking experienced by the victims was generally intense, long-term, and psychologically distressing for the victims. Victims used various means to cope with the stalking. Some victims reported that informal actions taken by themselves or family members/friends were effective in stopping the stalking, but the majority of victims sought assistance from community agencies. Distinctive differences in victims' help-seeking behavior were evident among the three countries. In Belgium, victims more often contacted the police as well as other helping agencies early in the stalking episode compared with victims in Italy and Slovenia. In Italy, family and friends were most often contacted for help, and in Slovenia, colleagues were most likely to be the first group contacted for help. Generally, stalking victims felt most supported by mental health professionals, family and friends, lawyers, and victim support groups, and they reported feeling least supported by the police. These ratings were relatively similar across countries. The interventions considered by the whole sample to be the most effective in stopping the stalking, however, were (in order of effectiveness) restraining orders, arrest, formal warnings, and informal warnings. In the majority of cases the stalker was an ex-intimate (spouse or partner), followed by acquaintances and total strangers. A significant proportion of victims were unaware of stalking as a behavioral phenomenon in problematic relationships, so they had little knowledge of the appropriate resources to consult for help. This suggests that more public education is needed on the nature of stalking, the importance of seeking appropriate help early in the victimization, and the interventions that are most effective. 8 tables and 27 references