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Mental health, wellbeing and the impacts of stalking

Mental health, wellbeing and the impacts of stalking

woman writing in journal at the park

It is very important to look after your health and wellbeing when considering the effects of technology-facilitated stalking and abuse.

The use of technology to control, monitor, harass or intimidate, as well as to punish or humiliate (for example, ‘revenge’ pornography), can take place over a sustained period. The manner of this abuse, and its duration, can have a significant impact on a person’s health and wellbeing.

What women say about the mental health impacts of technology-facilitated stalking by a partner or ex-partner

According to DVRCV’s SmartSafe research (2012), 84 per cent of participants said that experiencing unwanted contact through technology-facilitated stalking had impacted on their mental health and wellbeing. This included depression, sleeplessness, weight loss, anxiety and panic attacks.

[I experienced] terrible PTSD, felt like I had to always be on high alert

I would get anxiety attacks going out in public thinking I may be tracked down

[I] lost the ability to sleep well. Felt sick. Had headaches. Was worried a lot of the time.

[I] felt like he might lash out and send photos out, or upload them somewhere

These descriptions are consistent with other research into the impact of stalking (including persistent stalking by a stranger) on a person’s mental health and wellbeing. Research suggests that because victim/survivors of stalking experience sustained periods of fear, that there is a significant impact on their health as a consequence (Logan and Cole 2011:918).

United States research into the impacts of intimate partner stalking on women’s psychological wellbeing found high levels of emotional distress and antidepressant use (Kuehner et al. 2012).

A large-scale population study conducted in Australia shows that stalking is one of the most common forms of violence against women. Along with other forms of gender-based violence, stalking has a range of impacts on women’s mental health (Rees et al. 2011).

Need help?

The ‘support’ section of this site offers a series of options.

Your doctor or GP may be able to offer you a Mental Health Plan which provides a Medicare rebate for counselling sessions.

WIRE (Women’s Information and Referral Exchange) produces a Stalking Fact Sheet with further information.