Stalking is a prevalent crime which can significantly compromise the victim's quality of life. It occurs when one person repeatedly inflicts on another unwanted contacts or communications which induce fear. Many of the behaviours associated with stalking overlap with common, albeit irritating, experiences (e.g. being persistently telephoned or approached for a date). The difficulty for victims is recognizing the difference between brief episodes of intrusiveness or social awkwardness, and the beginnings of a more persistent campaign of harassment. This study sought to define empirically the foremost juncture at which instances of intrusiveness can be distinguished from persistent stalking which is ultimately damaging to the victim's psychosocial functioning. The results indicate that continuation of unwanted intrusions beyond a threshold of 2 weeks is associated with a more intrusive, threatening and psychologically damaging course of harassment. Recognition that 2 weeks is the watershed between brief, self-limiting instances of intrusiveness and protracted stalking allows an opportunity for early intervention to assist victims of this crime.
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