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Curtin runs largest ever stalking study in Perth

Media release

Curtin University is undertaking the largest ever stalking study in Perth to investigate the rate and effects of stalking.

Dr Lorraine Sheridan, Curtin’s School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, is leading the project and said stalking victimisation and violence was a very serious offense, although it was often underestimated by both the authorities and the general public.

“Stalking is an intentional pattern of repeated behaviour toward an individual that is unwanted and often results in fear,” Dr Sheridan said.

“Previous research shows one in five women and one in twenty men are victimised by stalking at some point in their lives.

“We also know that the successful execution of many violent offenses, such as serious sexual offenses and homicide, often follows a period of stalking.”

Dr Sheridan’s previous research has found:

  • Both female and male stalkers have a similar impact on their victims
  • The negative consequences of stalking are wide ranging and impact the victim’s psychological, physical, social and economic functioning
  • Ex-partner stalkers are more likely to be violent than those stalking strangers or acquaintances
  • There are subtypes of stalkers and only a minority are mentally ill
  • Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and inter-community are more likely to be stalked than heterosexuals

Western Australia has had anti-stalking legislation in place since 1994, however no empirical study has as yet examined the stalking experiences of the Western Australian population.

“This project will investigate stalking victimisation and associated violence rates amongst young adults,” Dr Sheridan said.

“It will explore the victim-offender relationship in stalking cases and examine the physical and psychological effects of stalking on the victims. Further, it will look at the coping strategies employed by victims of stalking.

“Findings from this study are expected to inform counselling and other social service practices to allow them to offer adequate and tailored intervention strategies to victims,” Dr Sheridan said.

Implications for more general public and social policies are also expected to be generated.

The study is seeking participants of both genders who have and who have not been stalked, aged between 18-40 years. For more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/WAStalkingSurvey.

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