, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 259-269

Female harassment after ending a relationship: A preliminary study

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While dramatic instances of male aggression directed toward women, such as rape and wife battering, have been frequently studied, a more subtle form of male aggression—female harassment—has been investigated less often. In the present study, 50 women who had terminated relationships with males and then were harassed were interviewed. In general, the harassment lasted for about a year, and episodes which occurred on a daily basis consisted of calls, letters, visits to home or work, being followed, verbal threats, and physical aggression. For the most part, these aggressive actions were perceived as both threatening and disturbing. Findings indicated that assertive female strategies were not more effective in reducing harassment than more sex-role stereotyped passive and nonassertive responses to male aggression. In the second phase of this study a sample of college undergraduates was interviewed on the topic of harassment. Fifty-six percent of the women indicated that they had been harassed by men.

My thanks to Lyn De Amicis and LaVome Robinson for their instructive and helpful comments.