Victims of cyberstalking: An exploratory study of harassment perpetrated via the Internet

Paul Bocij

Abstract



This paper describes the first study to focus exclusively on the prevalence and impact of cyberstalking. A Web-based questionnaire was used to collect data from a group of respondents who were recruited by snowball sampling via e-mail. A total of 169 respondents completed the questionnaire. The results of the study found that approximately a third of respondents might be considered victims of cyberstalking. Furthermore, when asked to indicate the level of distress felt as a result of their experiences, almost a quarter of respondents chose a value of ten on a ten-point scale.

The study also suggests a number of differences between cyberstalking and offline stalking, for instance cyberstalking tends to take place over a shorter period of time than offline stalking and cyberstalking victims are less likely to know the identify of their harassers. These differences add weight to the argument that cyberstalking should be seen as a new form of deviant behaviour that can be distinguished from offline stalking. The work concludes by emphasising a need for further research.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v8i10.1086



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