The Impact of Cyberstalking

Emma Short, Andrew Guppy, Jacqui A. Hart, James Barnes


To access the diversity of the population who define themselves as having been cyberstalked and to assess the levels of anxiety and trauma that victims reported. Participants who were self-defined cyberstalking victims (N = 353) were asked to complete an online survey, which consisted of items relating to the experience of offline harassment and cyberstalking, general anxiety and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Participants were also asked to report on the type of relationship they had with the harasser, changes in working life, relationships, finance and third parties subsequent to the experience of being stalked. Overall, the findings revealed that victims of harassment may suffer high levels of psychological distress as a consequence of the experience, with victims of cyberstalking experiencing psychological effects which are broadly comparable to the symptoms seen in PTSD, leaving the victim experiencing feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt. In addition, as with other research on the effects of adverse experiences on mental health outcomes, the respondents of the survey reported much higher levels of psychological distress than levels that have been reported in the general population. It is suggested that both offline and cyberstalking victims suffer comparable high levels of psychological distress as a consequence of the experience and, despite the wide variation in individual experience and reactions to being cyberstalked, this study was able to determine patterns of psychological distress which were comparable to the symptoms associated with PTSD. Individuals displaying symptoms of PTSD find themselves experiencing adverse effects in major domains of life activity, such as social relations and occupational activities.

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Studies in Media and Communication      ISSN 2325-8071 (Print)   ISSN 2325-808X (Online)

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