Adolescent stalking victimisation and perpetration in an Australian sample

A/Prof. Troy McEwan1,2, Ms Sinead Cloonan-Thomas1, Dr Elizabeth Daff1,2

1Swinburne University Of Technology And Forensicare, Melbourne, Australia, 2Forensicare, Melbourne, Australia

This paper presents new information about stalking victimisation and perpetration among adolescents following the breakdown of an intimate relationship. Stalking among adolescents is widely recognised as a problem, but there is very little research upon which to base policy or practice in this area. Prevalence is essentially unknown, and the link between post-relationship stalking and intimate partner abuse during the prior relationship has been subject to only one previous Brazilian study. There has been no research examining psychological characteristics associated with adolescent stalking perpetration. This study provides the first estimates of the incidence of stalking among Australian adolescents following the breakdown of an intimate relationship; investigates links between the presence and nature of abuse during the prior relationship and subsequent stalking; and examines psychological constructs potentially related to stalking perpetration. 432 adolescents aged between 14 and 18 were recruited from Melbourne public schools and reported their experiences of stalking and intimate partner abuse. While the majority of abuse victims did not go on to be stalked, abuse victimisation did predict stalking victimisation. The same was not true of perpetration, with abuse and stalking being unrelated. Interestingly, abuse victimisation predicted subsequent stalking perpetration and vice versa. Rumination about relationships was significantly related to stalking perpetration. This study suggests that post-relationship stalking is relatively common and is related to the presence of abuse during the prior intimate relationship, though the links are not straightforward.


Troy is a clinical and forensic psychologist with a research and practice interest in stalking. She has conducted research with both offender and community samples of people who stalk, with a particular focus on understanding psychological characteristics associated with stalking perpetration that could be targets for intervention.

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