The Impact of Stalking on Victims

Copyright © 2011 StalkInc.

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Although not exhaustive, the following are some of the more common effects that victims of stalking experience:
Effects on mental health

Denial, confusion, self-doubt, questioning if what is happening is unreasonable, wondering if they are over-reacting
Frustration
Guilt, embarrassment, self-blame
Apprehension, fear, terror of being alone or that they, others or pets will be harmed.
Feeling isolated and helpless to stop the harassment
Depression (all symptoms related to depression)
Anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia (frightened to leave the house, never feeling safe)
Difficulty concentrating, attending and remembering things
Inability to sleep – nightmares, ruminating
Irritability, anger, homicidal thoughts
Emotional numbing
Symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress disorder e.g. hypervigilance (always on the lookout), flashbacks of frightening incidents, easily startled
Insecurity and inability to trust others, problems with intimacy
Personality changes due to becoming more suspicious, introverted or aggressive
Self-medication alcohol/ drugs or using prescribed medications
Suicide thoughts and/or suicide attempts

Effects on physical health

Fatigue from difficulty sleeping, being constantly on guard, symptoms of depression
Effects of chronic stress including headaches, hypertension
Gastrointestinal problems –
Fluctuations in weight due to not eating or comfort eating
Development or exacerbation of pre-existing conditions e.g. asthma, gastric ulcers and psoriasis.
Dizziness
Shortness of breath
Impact on health of increased use of alcohol, cigarettes or drugs
Sexual dysfunction
Physical injury due to not concentrating or being under the influence of substances
Heart palpitations and sweating

Effects on work and school

Deteriorating school/work performance
Increased sick leave
Leaving job or being sacked
Changing career
Dropping out of school – poorer education and career opportunities

Effects on social life

Insecurity and inability to trust others impacting on current and future relationships and friendships,
Problems with physical and emotional intimacy.
Avoidance of usual activities e.g., going to the gym, going out.
Isolation through trying to protect others , feeling misunderstood or psychological symptoms.
Others withdrawing from the victim because they don’t believe the victim, they are unable to cope with the victim’s mental state or as a direct consequence of third-party victimisation.
Victim moving to a new area, changing their phone number, name or even their appearance.

Effects on finances

Loss of wages due to sick leave, leaving job or changing career.
Costs incurred through legal fees.
Expense of increasing home and personal security.
Cost involved in repairing property damage.
Seeking psychological counselling and medical treatment.
Cost involved in breaking leases on rented properties.
Expense of relocation.

What may prevent a victim from seeking help?

Not understanding that what is happening to them is stalking and/or illegal.
Trying to pretend that it is not happening.
Believing that they should be able to deal with the situation, thinking that the stalker will see reason, or not wanting to get the stalker into trouble.
Fear that others will think they are over-reacting or that they will be blamed for somehow having encouraged the stalker in the first place. The latter is particularly pertinent for those who have had a previous intimate relationship with the stalker, even if it was only brief or just a flirtation.
Fears about how the stalker will respond either to them or those that they love or care for.
Direct threats from the stalker
Feeling isolated in their plight, believing that there is nothing that can be done to help them, or not knowing who to go to.
Previous requests for help being ignored
Fear of losing their job or the situation becoming more difficult when the stalking originates in the workplace.
Financial limitations in regard to seeking legal advice or taking time off to seek help.
Limited options in respect to changing their situation e.g. relocation to safer housing
Language barriers.

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