Academic journal article International Journal of Men's Health

Male Victims of Former-Intimate Stalking: A Selected Review

Academic journal article International Journal of Men's Health

Male Victims of Former-Intimate Stalking: A Selected Review

Article excerpt

Over the past decade, there has been an increase of research on former-intimate stalking, with many studies examining female victims and male perpetrators of this crime. Most of this research has shown that males form a significant proportion of those who are stalked by a former-intimate partner, and in more recent years, some studies have found that former-intimate stalking, like "domestic violence," is gender neutral or gender-inclusive. Experimental research on perceptions of stalking has revealed that male stalking victimization is considered less concerning and less dangerous than female victimization and that males should be able to control their own stalking experience. Clearly, female stalking victimization is a serious social problem and studies on this are common. However, this is not the case for male stalking victims. This selected review will examine the prevalence of stalking for males across different samples, male and female perceptions of the acts that may constitute stalking, perceptions of male and female stalking perpetrators, and perceptions of male victimization and their impact on men.

Keywords: harassment, stalking, male victims, men


Males are far more likely than females to be involved as perpetrators and victims in violent crime. However, male victimization has remained heavily under-researched across a variety of crimes. More recently, males have been recognized as victims and have been researched more widely. This is particularly the case for males' experiences of aggression in intimate relationships (Archer, 2000; Hamel, 2006; Straus & Ramirez, 2002) and male rape (Davies & Rogers, 2006, for a review). However, males' victimization experiences are largely ignored in the former-intimate stalking literature, and when they are researched, the occurrences are often interpreted as less serious and of Jess concern than cases involving female victims. Although no definition of stalking is universally accepted, most have in common the stipulations that the behaviors or acts must be repeated and unwanted. For example, the U.S. Department of Justice (2002) stated that stalking is "the willful or intentional commission of a series of acts that would cause a reasonable person to fear death or serious bodily injury" (p. 1). This definition includes a fear component, although other definitions do not, and under these circumstances, cases are often considered as "harassment" rather than "stalking." For example, Langhinrichsen-Rohling, Palarea, Cohen, and Rohling (2000) identified unwanted pursuit behaviors (comprising harassment acts and more severe stalking acts), which they defined as "activities that constitute ongoing and unwanted pursuit of a romantic relationship between individuals who are not currently involved in a consensual romantic relationship with each other" (p. 73). Stalking or harassment acts can range from relatively minor behaviors such as leaving unwanted messages or gifts for the victim, to more serious actions such as following, threatening or assaulting the victim.

The majority of stalking research has mainly identified males as perpetrators and females as victims (Sheridan, Davies & Boon, 2001a; Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998). The research clearly shows that males form a significant proportion of former-intimate stalking victims. However, men may be over-represented as perpetrators of stalking, as their actions are seen as more dangerous than those of female stalkers. Rates of stalking victimization differ by sex according to the populations that are sampled and the definitions of stalking that are employed (Spitzberg & Cupach, 2007, for a meta-analytic review of the stalking literature).

Clearly, female stalking victimization is a serious and important social issue and a research area that is quite rightly expanding. However, studies of male former-intimate stalking victims are harder to find, yet men's victimization experiences can be dangerous and frightening, and deserve the attention and support of authorities. …

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