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Cyberstalking versus off-line stalking in a forensic sample

Psychology, Crime & Law; Volume 20, Issue 10, 2014, Published online: 04 Mar 2014.

There is relatively little empirical research into cyberstalking and most published research reports data from samples of cyberstalking victims. The current study aimed to fill a gap in the literature by comparing 36 cyberstalking offenders with an age and gender matched sample of 36 off-line stalkers (average age 37 years, 94% male) to investigate differences in demographic, clinical and behavioural characteristics. Non-parametric analyses showed few between-group differences, although cyberstalkers were more likely to be ex-intimate partners (75% vs. 47%, χ2 = 5.84, p = .02, φ = .28) and less likely to approach their victims (56% vs. 78%, χ2 = 4.00, p = .05, φ =−.24). The majority of cyberstalkers also used off-line stalking tactics. Examination of specific cyberstalking behaviours suggested that cyberstalkers with different motivations used the Internet in distinct ways. These results support broad conclusions from previous research indicating that there are relatively few differences between cyberstalkers and off-line stalkers. Once the motivation of the stalker is considered, treatment and management strategies for cyberstalking and off-line stalking are likely to be similar.



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