Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 53, Issue 11, pp 1253–1263 | Cite as

Prevalence rates, reporting, and psychosocial correlates of stalking victimization: results from a three-sample cross-sectional study

  • Matt R. NoblesEmail author
  • Robert J. Cramer
  • Samantha A. Zottola
  • Sarah L. Desmarais
  • Tess M. Gemberling
  • Sarah R. Holley
  • Susan Wright
Original Paper



Public health and criminal justice stalking victimization data collection efforts are plagued by subjective definitions and lack of known psychosocial correlates. The present study assesses the question of stalking victimization prevalence among three groups. Psychosocial risk and protective factors associated with stalking victimization experiences were assessed.


Archival data (n = 2159) were drawn from a three-sample (i.e., U.S. nationwide sexual diversity special interest group, college student, and general population adult) cross-sectional survey of victimization, sexuality, and health.


The range of endorsement of stalking-related victimization experiences was 13.0–47.9%. Reported perpetrators were both commonly known and unknown persons to the victim. Participants disclosed the victimization primarily to nobody or a family member/friend. Bivariate correlates of stalking victimization were female gender, Associates/Bachelor-level education, bisexual or other sexual orientation minority status, hypertension, diabetes, older age, higher weekly drug use, elevated trait aggression, higher cognitive reappraisal skills, lower rape myth acceptance, and elevated psychiatric symptoms. Logistic regression results showed the strongest factors in identifying elevated stalking victimization risk were: older age, elevated aggression, higher cognitive reappraisal skills, lesser low self-control, increased symptoms of suicidality and PTSD re-experiencing, and female and other gender minority status.


Behavioral approaches to epidemiological and criminal justice stalking victimization are recommended. Victimization under reporting to healthcare and legal professionals were observed. Further research and prevention programming is needed to capitalize on data concerning personality and coping skills, sexual diversity, and trauma-related psychiatric symptoms.


Stalking Victimization Mental health LGBTQ BDSM Personality 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the SPPE editorial staff and anonymous peer-reviewers for their valuable insights.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This study was approved by two University ethics committees and has, therefore, been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments. All participants gave their informed consent prior to their inclusion in the study.


  1. 1.
    Tjaden PG, Thoennes N (1998) Stalking in America: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control; 1998. Accessed March 25 2018
  2. 2.
    Basile KC, Swahn MH, Chen J, Saltzman LE (2006) Stalking in the United States: recent national prevalence estimates. Am J Prev Med 31(2):172–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Breiding MJ (2014) Prevalence and characteristics of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence victimization—National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, United States. 2011. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep Surv Summ 63(8):1–18Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Nobles MR, Fox KA (2017) The extent, nature, and dynamic of stalking against women on college campuses. In: Kaukinen C, Hughes Miller M, Powers RA (eds) Addressing and preventing violence against women on college campuses. Temple University Press, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Fox KA, Nobles MR, Fisher BS (2011) Method behind the madness: an examination of stalking measurements. Aggress Violent Beh 16(1):74–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Reyns BW, Englebrecht CM (2014) Informal and formal help-seeking decisions of stalking victims in the United States. Crim Justice Behav 41(10):1178–1194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Brady PQ, Nobles MR (2017) The dark figure of stalking examining law enforcement response. J Interpers Violence 32(20):3149–3173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Jordan CE, Wilcox P, Pritchard AJ (2007) Stalking acknowledgement and reporting among college women experiencing intrusive behaviors: implications for the emergence of a “classic stalking case. J Crim Justice 35(5):556–569CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    McNamara CL, Marsil DF (2012) The prevalence of stalking among college students: the disparity between researcher-and self-identified victimization. J Am Coll Health 60(2):168–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Smith SG, Chen J, Basile KC, Gilbert LK, Merrick MT, Patel N, Walling M, Jain A (2017) The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010–2012 State Report. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AtlantaGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Brown GA (2004) Gender as a factor in the response of the law-enforcement system to violence against partners. Sex Cult 8(3–4):3–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Catalano S (2012) Stalking victimization in the United States—Revisited (NCJ 224527). U. S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Brady PQ, Nobles MR, Bouffard LA (2017) Are college students really at a higher risk for stalking? Exploring the generalizability of student samples in victimization research. J Crim Justice 52:12–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Diette TM, Goldsmith AH, Hamilton D, Darity W, McFarland K (2014) Stalking: does it leave a psychological footprint? Soc Sci Q 95(2):563–580CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Davis KE, Coker AL, Sanderson M (2002) Physical and mental health effects of being stalked for men and women. Violence Vict 17(4):429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Cramer RJ, McNiel DE, Holley SR, Shumway M, Boccellari A (2012) Mental health in violence crime victims: does sexual orientation matter? Law Hum Behav 36:87–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Rothman EF, Exner D, Baughman AL (2011) The prevalence of sexual assault against people who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual in the United States: a systematic review. Trauma Violence Abuse 12(2):55–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Baum K, Catalano S, Rand M, Rose K (2009) Stalking victimization in the United States (NCJ 224527). U. S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Pathé MT, Mullen PE, Purcell R (2000) Same-gender stalking. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law 28(2):191–197PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Purcell R, Pathé M, Mullen PE (2002) The prevalence and nature of stalking in the Australian community. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 36(1):114–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Sheridan L, Scott AJ, North AC (2014) Stalking and age. J Threat Assess Manag 1(4):262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Strand S, McEwan TE (2011) Same-gender stalking in Sweden and Australia. Behav Sci Law 29(2):202–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Gemberling TM, Cramer RJ, Miller RS (2015) BDSM as sexual orientation: a comparison to lesbian, gay, and bisexual sexuality. J Positi Sex 1:37–43Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Pitagora D (2016) Intimate partner violence in sadomasochistic relationships. Sex Relatsh Ther 31(1):95–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Fox KA, Gover AR, Kaukinen C (2009) The effects of low self-control and childhood maltreatment on stalking victimization among men and women. Am J Crim Justice 34(3–4):181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Ménard KS, Pincus AL (2014) Child maltreatment, personality pathology, and stalking victimization among male and female college students. Violence Vict 29(2):300–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Terzi L, Martino F, Berardi D, Bortolotti B, Sasdelli A, Menchetti M (2017) Aggressive behavior and self-harm in borderline personality disorder: the role of impulsivity and emotion dysregulation in a sample of outpatients. Psychiatry Res 249:321–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Meaning R, Hasking P, Reupert A (2016) Borderline personality disorder symptoms in college students: the complex interplay between alexithymia, emotional dysregulation and rumination. PLoS ONE 11(6):e0157294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Alegría-Flores K, Raker K, Pleasants RK, Weaver MA, Weinberger M (2017) Preventing interpersonal violence on college campuses: the effect of One Act training on bystander intervention. J Interpers Violence 32(7):1103–1126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Turmanis SA, Brown RI (2006) The stalking and harassment behaviour scale: measuring the incidence, nature, and severity of stalking and relational harassment and their psychological effects. Psychol Psychother 79(2):183–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Purcell R, Pathé M, Mullen PE (2005) Association between stalking victimisation and psychiatric morbidity in a random community sample. Br J Psychiatry 187(5):416–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Kraaij V, Arensman E, Garnefski N, Kremers I (2007) The role of cognitive coping in female victims of stalking. J Interpers Violence 22(12):1603–1612CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Strauss CV, Haynes EE, Cornelius TL, Shorey RC (2016) Stalking victimization and substance use in college dating relationships: an exploratory analysis. J Interpers Violence 0886260516663899Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Kuehner C, Gass P, Dressing H (2012) Mediating effects of stalking victimization on gender differences in mental health. J Interpers Violence 27(2):199–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Gemberling TM, Cramer RJ, Wright S, Nobles MR (2015) Psychological functioning and violence victimization and perpetration in BDSM practitioners from the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. Technical Report. pp 1–25Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Cramer RJ, Desmarais SL, Johnson KL, Gemberling TM, Nobles MR, Holley SR, Wright S, Van Dorn R (2017) The intersection of interpersonal and self-directed violence among general adult, college student and sexually diverse samples. Int J Soc Psychiatry 63(1):78–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Nobles MR, Fox KA, Piquero NL, Piquero AR (2009) Career dimensions of stalking victimization and perpetration. Justice Q 26:476–503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Buss AH, Perry M (1992) The aggression questionnaire. J Pers Soc Psychol 63:452–459CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Gross JJ, John OP (2003) Individual differences in two emotion regulation processes: implications for affect, relationships, and well-being. Pers Soc Psychol 85:348–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Payne DL, Lonsway KA, Fitzgerald LF (1999) Rape myth acceptance: exploration of its structure and its measurement using the Illinois rape myth acceptance scale. J Res Pers 33(1):27–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Grasmick HG, Tittle CR, Bursik RJ, Arneklev BJ (1993) Testing the core empirical implications of Gottfredson and Hirschi’s general theory of crime. J Res Crime Delinq 30:5–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Osman A, Wong JL, Bagge CL, Freedenthal S, Gutierrez PM, Lozano G (2012) The depression anxiety stress scales—21 (DASS-21): further examination of dimensions, scale reliability, and correlates. J Clin Psychol 68:1322–1338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Conybeare D, Behar E, Soloman A, Newman MG, Borkovec TD (2012) The PTSD checklist-civilian version: reliability, validity, and factor structure in a nonclinical sample. J Clin Psychol 68:699–713CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Osman A, Bagge CL, Gutierrez PM, Konick LC, Kopper BA, Barrios FX (2001) The suicidal behaviors questionnaire-revised (SBQ-R): validation with clinical and nonclinical samples. Assessment 8:443–454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Cohen J (1988) Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences, 2nd edn. Lawrence Earlbaum Associates, HillsdaleGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Cohen J, Cohen P, West SG, Aiken LS (2003) Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences, 3rd edn. Lawrence Earlbaum Associates, HillsdaleGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Harrell FE (2001) Regression modeling strategies with applications to linear models, logistic regression, and survival analysis. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Hosmer DW, Lemeshow S (2005) Applied logistic regression. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Menard S (2002) Applied logistic regression analysis, vol 106. Sage, Thousand OaksCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Chen H, Cohen P, Chen S (2010) How big is a big odds ratio? Interpreting magnitudes of odds ratios in epidemiological studies. Commun Stat 39:860–864CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Herek GM, Gillis JR, Cogan JC (2009) Internalized stigma among sexual minority adults: insights from a social psychological perspective. J Couns Psychol 56:32–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Tillyer MS, Wright EM (2014) Intimate partner violence and the victim-offender overlap. J Res Crime Delinq 51(1):29–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Scott-Storey K (2011) Cumulative abuse: Do things add up? An evaluation of the conceptualization, operationalization, and methodological approaches in the study of the phenomenon of cumulative abuse. Trauma Violence Abuse 12(3):135–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Finkelhor D, Ormrod RK, Turner HA (2007) Poly-victimization: a neglected component in child victimization. Child Abuse Neglect 31(1):7–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Boxer P, Terranova AM (2008) Effects of multiple maltreatment experiences among psychiatrically hospitalized youth. Child Abuse Neglect 32(6):637–647CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Banyard VL, Williams LM, Siegel JA (2001) The long-term mental health consequences of child sexual abuse: an exploratory study of the impact of multiple traumas in a sample of women. J Trauma Stress 14(4):697–715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Campbell R, Greeson MR, Bybee D, Raja S (2008) The co-occurrence of childhood sexual abuse, adult sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and sexual harassment: a mediational model of posttraumatic stress disorder and physical health outcomes. J Consult Clin Psychol 76(2):194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Fox KA, Nobles MR, Fisher BS (2016) A multi-theoretical framework to assess gendered stalking victimization: the utility of self-control, social learning, and control balance theories. Justice Q 33(2):319–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Nobles MR, Fox KA (2013) Assessing stalking behaviors in a control balance theory framework. Crim Justice Behav 40(7):737–762CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matt R. Nobles
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert J. Cramer
    • 2
  • Samantha A. Zottola
    • 3
  • Sarah L. Desmarais
    • 3
  • Tess M. Gemberling
    • 4
  • Sarah R. Holley
    • 5
  • Susan Wright
    • 6
  1. 1.University of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA
  2. 2.Old Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA
  3. 3.North Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  4. 4.University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA
  5. 5.San Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA
  6. 6.National Coalition for Sexual FreedomBaltimoreUSA

Personalised recommendations