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Comparison of Cyberstalking and Stalking

February 11, 2013

Matt Nobles

A new study has revealed the real cost and difference, both emotionally and financially, to victims of cyberstalking and traditional stalking. With the development of new technologies, cyberstalking has become an invasive, non-stop attack upon victims.

Victims of cyberstalking take more self-protective measures, pay higher out-of-pocket costs to combat the problem and experience greater fear over time than traditional stalking victims, according to Matt Nobles, assistant professor of criminal justice at Sam Houston State University.

“We wanted to investigate where there are similarities and differences between stalking and cyberstalking, and there is a lot of work that still has to be done on that issue,” Nobles said. “But independent of the conceptual discussion, the evidence shows that cyberstalking is tremendously disruptive to the lives of the victims. The financial cost of cyberstalking is also very serious.”

The study found that cyberstalking victims had to take more action to avoid their cyberstalkers. They had to take more time off work, change contact information, avoid friends and relatives, and change locations compared to victims of traditional stalking.

The financial costs associated with victimization—which could include legal fees, property damage, child care costs, moving expenses or a change in phone number—were also much higher for cyberstalking victims, with an average dollar value of more than $1,200 spent compared to about $500 for traditional stalking victims. Victims also responded to their experiences differently. Fear at the onset of victimization was related to adopting self- protective behaviors for both groups, but fear over time was associated with adopting more self-protective behaviors for cyberstalking victims only. This suggests that the stalking episode may provoke an immediate reaction for many victims, while the cyberstalking condition tends to build and becomes more severe over time, Nobles said.

The study shows differences in age and gender between cyberstalking and traditional stalking victims. Women accounted for 70% of stalked victims while males accounted for 30% with an average age of 40.8 years. With cyberstalking, women accounted for 58% and men 42% with an average age of 38.4 years.

The cyberstalking study can be used by professionals and state legislatures to better understand the causes and consequences of cyberstalking and how it can be addressed in the criminal justice system. The findings are especially illuminating for non-victims who struggle to understand how cyberstalking impacts victims’ lives, Nobles said. “Cyberstalking isn’t checking out someone’s Facebook profile several times a week,” he said. “It isn’t cute or funny. The data tell us that it’s very real and it can be terrifying.”


Filed in: General

About the Author:

Christopher is an IT specialist with 30 years of experience in developing technology working with corporates and SME’s. Chris is a Microsoft Certified System Engineer and holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, as well as numerous certificate based qualifications in technology and application development. Christopher is the CEO of internetSOS - A project to help people learn how to protect themselves online.

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