• Victims’ voices: understanding the emotional impact of cyberstalking and individuals’ coping responses

      Worsley, Joanne D.; Wheatcroft, Jacqueline M.; Short, Emma; Corcoran, Rhiannon (SAGE, 2017-05-23)
      Recent quantitative research has identified similar detrimental effects on victims of cyberstalking as those that arise from traditional stalking. The current study thematically analyzed one hundred victim narratives gathered by means of an online survey with a view to assessing the mental health and well-being implications of the experience of cyberstalking. Coping strategies employed by victims and the perceived effectiveness of each strategy were also explored. The findings suggest that the emotional impact of cyberstalking predominantly includes comorbid anxiety and depression. Common coping strategies adopted by victims in our sample include avoidant coping, ignoring the perpetrator, confrontational coping, support seeking, and cognitive reframing. Taken together, the findings demonstrate that the ramifications of cyberstalking are widespread, affecting psychological, social, interpersonal, and economic aspects of life. To adapt, some victims made major changes to both their work and social life, with some ceasing employment and others modifying their usual daily activities. The widespread negative effects of cyberstalking identified in this study highlight that this phenomenon should be a concern to both legal and mental health professionals, particularly as the comments made by our sample illustrate the current inadequacy of response and provision. Recommendations are discussed and provided for law enforcement and mental health professionals.