Tuesday, April 20, 2021

3.8 Million Americans Were Victims of Stalking in 2016

A new report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) presents the latest data on victims of stalking. The report is as chilling as a Stephen King novel. 

The stalking data were collected by the 2016 Supplemental Victimization Survey of the National Crime Victimization Survey. The BJS defines stalking as "repeated unwanted contacts or behaviors that either cause the victim to experience fear or substantial emotional distress or that would cause a reasonable person to experience fear or substantial emotional distress."

In the past 12 months, 3,788,800 U.S. residents aged 16 or older reported being stalked. That's 1.5 percent of the population who experienced either traditional stalking, technology stalking, or both. The BJS defines traditional stalking as "sneaking into, waiting at, or showing up at a place; leaving or sending unwanted items; or harassing friends or family about the victim's whereabouts." Technology stalking is defined as "making unwanted phone calls, leaving voice mail messages, or sending text messages; spying using technology; tracking the victim's whereabouts with an electronic tracking device or application; posting or threatening to post unwanted information on the internet; sending emails or messages using the internet; or monitoring activities using social media." 

Got goosebumps? 

Nearly half of stalking victims are stalked in both ways—traditionally and with technology. Among the 2.5 million who were stalked traditionally, 59 percent said the offender followed them and watched them—the single most common traditional stalking behavior. Among the 3.1 million who were stalked with technology, the most common stalking behavior was excessive calling (phone calls/voice messages/text messages), reported by 67 percent.

Women (2.0 percent) are twice as likely as men (0.9 percent) to be victims of stalking. Young adults aged 20 to 24 are more likely to be victims (2.3 percent) than those in any other age group. The divorced (2.8 percent) or separated (3.7 percent) are much more likely to be stalked than the married (0.8 percent). 

Who is doing all this stalking? Ex-partners make up the single largest offender group (21 percent). But offenders can be acquaintances or relatives of a spouse or ex-spouse (10 percent), professional acquaintances (8 percent), roommates or neighbors (7 percent), and even strangers (17 percent). 

Sixty-two percent of victims report that the stalking has stopped, with 51 percent saying they took measures to stop it. These measures included blocking their phone number or getting a new phone/computer (23 percent), moving (8 percent), or getting a restraining order (5 percent). Police intervention did the trick for 7 percent of victims. Another 5 percent said the behavior stopped because the offender was arrested/incarcerated. Not all victims of stalking are this lucky, however. For a substantial 28 percent, the stalking is ongoing. 

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Stalking Victimization, 2016

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