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Stalking in the Context of Domestic Violence: Findings on the Criminal Justice System

NCJ Number
210258
Date Published
Author(s)
Heather C. Melton
Agencies
NIJ-Sponsored
Annotation
This study examined whether stalking in the context of domestic violence is more or less likely depending on the severity of criminal justice interventions.
Abstract
The hypothesis tested was that the more serious the court response to the original domestic violence incident, the less likely it is that the abuser will engage in stalking behaviors. Data were collected through intensive and longitudinal interviews with female victims of domestic violence whose cases had at least entered the criminal justice system (i.e., the abuser was arrested) in one of three jurisdictions in the United States. Women were interviewed immediately after their cases closed, 6 months later, and 1 year later. The sample included 178 women at time 1, 160 at time 2, and 148 at time 3. A subsample of 21 participants participated in more in-depth interviews designed to obtain greater detail on the complexities of stalking in domestic violence cases. Stalking was measured in a number of ways and included a variety of behaviors that were taken from the Stalking Behavior Checklist adapted from Coleman (1997). The study found that specific court outcomes in domestic violence cases and whether or not the victim cooperated with the prosecution did not influence whether or not the victim experienced subsequent stalking by the abuser. Women who experienced stalking in addition to domestic violence were more likely to use the criminal justice system in the future than women who experienced domestic violence without stalking. After criminal justice intervention, both physical violence and stalking experience significantly decreased; however, physical violence decreased at a significantly greater rate than stalking experiences. The strongest predictor of future stalking was previous experiences with stalking. The women who did experience stalking were generally dissatisfied with the police response to this aspect of their cases. 5 tables, 14 notes, and 28 references
Date Created: December 17, 2008