Surviving Stalking

Article excerpt

MICHELE PATHE: Surviving Stalking. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2002, 174 pp., $23.00, ISBN 0-521-00964-2.

Victims of stalking frequently feel frightened, confused, isolated, and misunderstood. A professional's mere recognition of the stalking is often greeted with a profound sense of relief. A book that gives these victims information about what we know about stalking and how to survive it is quite welcome.

I would recommend this book to those victims, but my ambivalence about it would lead to an accompanying disclaimer. The book seems to be a translation of academic research about stalking into a form for a nonprofessional audience. It is an incomplete translation, and the book frequently uses language more appropriate for an academic paper than a guide for victims. As an example, "Clinically, stalking refers to a range of behaviours involving repeated and persistent attempts to impose on another person unwanted communication or contact, or both" (p. 13). Fortunately, most of the book is somewhat more casual. While I imagine that some victims might find a book with this intellectual distance a reassuring source of unemotional information, others may be put off by it.

The research on stalking is relatively new and limited. The author is unquestionably an expert in it, having conducted a significant amount of the research and having published a previous academic book on the subject (Stalkers and Their Victims). I would have preferred a bit more distance on this research, as Pathe presents it as fact. She utilizes a typology of stalking that has been valuable in research, and purportedly differentially predicts risk of violence, but the typology is not intuitively obvious nor easily memorable for a layperson. Yet, it is this research, which is generally well explained in the book, that may be its greatest strength. Knowing some of the characteristics found in stalkers, garnered from several studies, offers at least some indications in the direction of an answer to the inevitable question posed by victims as to why the stalker is doing it.

The book begins with a definition of stalking, followed by some statistics on it, then the afore-mentioned typology. …