Stalking following the breakup of romantic relationships: characteristics of stalking former partners

J Forensic Sci. 2002 Sep;47(5):1070-7.


This study investigated female experiences of stalking by former partners following the dissolution of heterosexual romantic relationships. It aimed to identify those characteristics of former partners that were associated with stalking as opposed to other post-relationship experiences of minor harassment or no-harassment. Three hundred and five female undergraduates (all had experienced dissolution of a heterosexual romantic relationship) completed a 48-item questionnaire. This assessed characteristics of participants, former partners, and experiences of harassment following the relationship. One hundred and five (34.4%) participants were classified as stalking victims; ninety-eight (32.1%) as suffering harassment, and 102 (33.4%) as experiencing no-harassment. No differences were found between the three groups in demographic characteristics of participants or former partners. Stalking former partners were most likely to have: a history of substance use (alcohol and/or drugs); criminal involvement; violence; mental health problems; difficulties in forming relationships; reacting with inappropriate emotion and jealousy and suspiciousness of the participant's relationships with others. These results add to an emerging profile of former partners who are likely to engage in stalking following the dissolution of romantic relationships. The findings are also consistent with explanations of stalking behavior that stress the etiological importance of attachment difficulties.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Crime / psychology*
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Forensic Psychiatry
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Love
  • Male
  • Obsessive Behavior / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Behavior*