3.4 Million Say They Were Stalking Victims, Many For Five Years


An estimated 3.4 million Americans identified themselves as victims of stalking during a one-year span, says the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, which issued the largest-ever survey of the aggravating and often terrifying phenomenon, the Associated Press reports. About half of the victims experienced at least one unwanted contact per week from a stalker, and 11 percent had been stalked for five or more years. The study was described as a groundbreaking effort to analyze the scope and varying forms of stalking. The total estimate was considerably higher than a 1.4 million annual victim estimate reported in a mid- 1990s study using different methodology.

More than one-third of the victims reported being followed or spied upon; some said they were tracked by electronic monitoring, listening devices, or video cameras. Nearly 75 percent of victims knew their stalker in some capacity _ most commonly a former spouse or ex-boyfriend/girlfriend. About 130,000 victims said they had been fired or asked to leave their job because of problems arising from the stalking. Mary Lou Leary, a former federal prosecutor now executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime, was struck by the persistence of some of the stalking behavior depicted in the report. “When you consider the impact that stalking has on a victim’s life, five weeks is forever–five years is incredible,” she said. “They often have to give up their current life, leave their jobs, their homes, establish a whole new identity.”

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