Acknowledgement of victimization is the first step on the road to recovery. Yet many individuals who are victims of stalking don’t ever acknowledge that they have been victimized. Although there is much research examining this phenomenon in sexual assaults, little research has been devoted to the psychological ramifications of unacknowledged victims of stalking. To address this void, Christine M. Englebrecht, Ph.D., in the Criminal Justice Program at Bowling Green State University in Ohio led a study examining what conditions men and women deemed necessary to warrant the acknowledgement of stalking.
According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), 14 of every 1,000 American adults are victims of stalking. Using data collected from the NCVS, Englebrecht explored how stereotypical behaviors, such as following the victim, sending notes, or calling, would influence a victim’s decision to acknowledge the crime. Englebrecht discovered that both men and women were more likely to acknowledge stalking when it included violent behaviors. Threats to women’s security and men’s physical health were the most significant predictors of acknowledgement. Overall, cyberstalking was acknowledged by men and women more than other types of stalking. However, men were less likely to experience negative psychological ramifications than women, regardless of the kind of stalking.
Women were far more fearful than men as a result of the stalking. Unfortunately, this emotional outcome did little to increase acknowledgement. In this study, Englebrecht found that less than half of the women who were victims of stalking went on to acknowledge victimization. These results emphasize the need for addressing this issue, as victims who never acknowledge their situation often suffer severe and sustained psychological difficulties. “Although this study is a valuable first step, additional research is needed to further explore the correlates of stalking victimization acknowledgment.” Englebrecht added, “If acknowledgment is an important first step in the decision-making chain to reporting, then it is crucial to continue exploring the implications of this relationship.”
Englebrecht, C. M., Reyns, B. W. Gender Differences in Acknowledgment of Stalking Victimization: Results From the NCVS Stalking Supplement. Violence and Victims 26.5 (2011): 560-79. Print.
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