U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Research on Partner Stalking: Putting the Pieces Together

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2010
27 pages
This review of the research literature on partner stalking addresses its prevalence, characteristics, dangerousness, collateral impact, risk assessment, and criminal justice system responses.
Regarding its prevalence, partner stalking composes the largest category of stalking cases and is a relatively common form of violence against women, with between 4.8 percent and 14.5 percent of women ages 18 and older reporting stalking by an intimate partner at some time in their lives. Regarding the characteristics of partner stalking, it tends to be linked with a history of partner physical and sexual violence as well as coercive control. The average duration of partner stalking is just over 2 years. Although stalking tactics and frequencies vary widely, physical surveillance is the most frequently cited tactic. Few studies to date have examined the use of technology, such as the Internet, in the tactics of partner stalking. Regarding dangerousness, a number of different studies have determined that partner stalkers are more likely than non-partner stalkers to engage in violence and use weapons against their victims. The collateral impacts of partner stalking are fear, psychological distress, and deteriorating physical health for the victim, which can, in turn, affect the victim's employment performance and income earnings. The victim's children, who may also be children of the stalker, are also adversely affected by the stalking. Although there are limited risk assessments specifically for partner stalking, this review reports on potentially important research trends in this area. Regarding the criminal justice response to partner stalking, police apparently have a limited understanding of partner stalking as indicated by surveys, key informant interviews, and charges being brought against stalkers. When partner stalkers are charged, they are charged with crimes other than stalking, such as protective order violations and assault. Prosecutions and convictions for stalking are low, particularly when compared to the estimated number of stalking cases. Research on treatment for stalking offenders is limited. 120 references

Date Published: October 1, 2010