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4 - “And Where You Go, I’ll Follow”: Stalking and the Complex Task of Preventing It

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 March 2021

Stephanie Kewley
Affiliation:
Liverpool John Moores University
Charlotte Barlow
Affiliation:
Lancaster University
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Summary

Introduction

Stalking1 in its broad sense and different forms within the spectrum of sexual violence has been an omnipresent characteristic of interpersonal relationships, ranging from persistent and/or unwanted courtship and attention, harassment, obsessive following to threats, physical violence and murder. Yet it was only recently criminalised in the UK, in 2012, after a series of high-profile cases and continuous campaigns by families of victims and charities for more effective (harsher) punishment of perpetrators. Although the criminalisation of stalking has brought about some positive changes, including a better understanding of the harms suffered by victims of this type of abuse, it is crucial to acknowledge that this behaviour has occurred for a very long time in the form of the ‘everyday intrusions’. Betsy Stanko (1990) succinctly describes that (mostly) women have had to endure and accommodate such behaviour in their lives and, as such, tackling it requires a deeper investigation of its causes and a multifaceted approach. This chapter will, first, look at key issues making the prevention of stalking a challenging task; then it will briefly overview current strategies and proposed measures for preventing and managing stalking (for example, multi-agency interventions), and problematize them considering empirical work and recent international movements. As Walklate and McCulloch's chapter about sexual violence stresses, it is often the case that preventive strategies aim to help and protect victims by addressing different factors and assessing risks, but fail to take into account and question the sociocultural context that enables and fosters these behaviours in the first place. Implications for future practice will be considered and discussed.

Dealing with the unknown: five years later

Stalking is another manifestation of violence against women within the continuum of sexual violence (Kelly, 1988) and a distinct form of violence of interpersonal abuse with its own characteristics and effects (Basile and Hall, 2011; Korkodeilou, 2017). According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS, 2016), reporting on the Crime Survey for England and Wales, one in five women and one in ten men aged 16– 59 have experienced stalking at some point in their lives and it is often after they had been subjected to 100 stalking incidents or more that they decide to come forward and report them to the police (BBC, 2019).

Type
Chapter
Information
Preventing Sexual Violence
Problems and Possibilities
, pp. 63 - 78
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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