Stalking in the States
Data Sources -
Although most states differ in the kinds of agencies that are collecting data and the type of information being collected, there are similarities across states. This section presents a general overview of how states are collecting stalking data and how agencies are using the information.
As with domestic violence, the prevalence of stalking is difficult to measure. Not all offenses are reported to law enforcement, and not all victims seek services. Stalking may also be domestic in nature, and may often be included in domestic violence statistics reported by a state or agency. Although most domestic and sexual violence service providers keep records on the number of people seeking services, these data are not collected consistently across agencies and states. Often individual information is not collected, which makes separating duplicates difficult. For example, a person may visit a shelter on multiple occasions and may seek a variety of services. This individual may be counted for each stay and for each service. Service providers in some states do collect individual statistics, but may not indicate whether the incident was reported to police. In these cases, it would be difficult to try to use service provider data to supplement law enforcement numbers due to the problem of duplicating existing incidents.
In theory, person-level data collected by service providers could be used in conjunction with law enforcement data to give estimates of these kinds of incidents. No identifying information would be necessary; demographic information (gender, age and race) and incident dates for all individuals seeking services in an entire jurisdiction could be used. Service providers, however, do not release such information for privacy reasons, even though it is impossible to identify an individual through such data. Until data become available for research, we will continue to be unable to truly provide an accurate picture of the extent of stalking in our states.
Describing the prevalence of stalking has challenges in that there is currently no law enforcement data collection instrument at the national level that includes stalking. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who sets the standards for law enforcement reporting, does not collect stalking data. In the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) summary system, these offenses are included in the 'Other Assault' category, while the National Incident-Based Data Reporting System (NIBRS) includes stalking offenses in the 'Intimidation' category. While the FBI's documentation has not been updated since 2000, neither the UCR Handbook, the Data Collection Guidelines, nor the Data Submission Guidelines include a definition of stalking. Stalking is included in the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, which was intended to act as a model for state statutes. There appears to be a wide range of variation from state to state, however.
Sources of Stalking Data
There are five basic sources of data available in the states: law enforcement, victimization surveys, service providers, victim compensation offices, and health/medical agencies. Since law enforcement agencies follow strict legal definitions and are usually required to report data to the state Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, most of the statistics available at the state level on stalking are law enforcement data. Since these data represent only incidents that are known to the police, it is widely viewed that many offenses are underrepresented in these data. This is especially true for acts of violence against women, whose victims may not report to the police because of fear of reprisal, embarrassment, or financial dependence on the offender. Using only one source of data, therefore, provides an incomplete picture of the amount of violence being experienced.
Law Enforcement Data
Stalking offenses are not reported separately to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) but are often included in state reports. Most states publish an annual crime report using law enforcement data (Crime in Florida, for example). These reports often use the FBI's Crime in the US publication as a template, but most also include additional information, such as stalking and domestic violence offenses. Due to the varying definitions from state to state, however, these data can not be used for comparisons between states or to create a national estimate.
Random surveys of the public can also provide information, particularly on incidents that are not reported to the police, or, in this case, are not collected by the FBI. These surveys generally collect information in addition to what is collected by law enforcement agencies. Research has suggested that the anonymity of speaking to a researcher on the phone rather than in person may allow victims to discuss criminal incidents that they are unwilling to report to the police, or may allow for the recording of crimes victims may have deemed too insignificant to report. In this way, incident-based survey data can be gathered to provide an alternative source of data to estimate crime rates.
The downside of victimization surveys is that participation is often limited to those with telephones who are home when the surveyor calls and who voluntarily opt to participate in the program. Populations that may be most at risk, such as low-income or transient families, may not be included in these kinds of data collection efforts.
The National Crime Victimization Survey is funded by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and is conducted by the Census Bureau twice a year. Several states have instituted statewide surveys as well. Few states, however, conduct victimization surveys on a regular basis. Like the law enforcement data, victimization survey data are usually made available to the public in the form of reports. In the case of the NCVS, however, participants and any reported incidents cannot be identified by city or state, only region (Northeast, Midwest, South or West). In 2006, BJS added a one-time stalking supplement to the annual survey and collected information on incidents classified as stalking by interviewers. Interviewers identified 78,741 individuals who had been experienced at least one stalking incident in the study period; 65,272 individuals completed the supplemental interview resulting in 42,697 identified cases of stalking.
Service Provider Data
Agencies that provide services to victims often keep statistics; at the very least, the number of people receiving services is often required to fulfill grant obligations. All states have coalitions that exist at the state level; most have separate coalitions for domestic violence and sexual assault. The role that each takes differs from state to state. Some coalitions function as data collection agencies with sophisticated reporting systems and standardized report forms. Others collect no information and act as lobbyists or provide technical assistance to local programs.
Service providers are often required to report statistics as stipulated by granting agencies at the state or federal level. Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants have allowed for states to pass federal money to local agencies to provide services to victims of domestic or sexual abuse and stalking. Often agencies are required to report summary statistics and, less frequently, incident-based statistics to the granting agencies. Service providers and coalitions may provide some statistics on their Web sites, and some produce annual reports containing summary data. The data provided to funding agencies are rarely published or made available to the public.
Service providers often collect a wide variety of information on clients. Some also collect information on whether the incident was reported to police, allowing for the potential to use both law enforcement and service provider data without the issue of duplicate events. The table below summarizes the data currently being collected. Although the data collected are not specific to stalking, stalking victims may seek services at a domestic or sexual violence service provider and are included in the provider's reported statistics.
All states provide some kind of compensation to victims based on certain criteria. To ascertain who is eligible to receive payment, victims complete forms that collect various information about the offense, victim, and offender. Most states collect information on the relationship of the victim to the offender and some forms ask victims to indicate whether the offense was domestic in nature. While some agencies collecting this information publish annual reports on the amount of compensation paid for different offense types, this information is not usually provided to the public.
All of the states participate in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey. While the focus of the survey is on health, the CDC introduced optional modules for use in the 2005 survey, including questions on intimate partner violence and sexual assault, which may include stalking behavior. In the first year, 10 states and 2 territories included the intimate partner module and 18 states and 2 territories included the sexual violence module in the survey.
||Intimate Partner Module
||AZ, HI, IA, MO, NV, OH, OK, PR, RI, VT, VI, VA
The CDC releases the data from the survey, including the optional module data. The survey does not, however, ask if the incident was reported to the police. States may also publish reports summarizing the findings from the survey, and some data are available from the state agency Web sites.
Currently there are very few projects focusing specifically on stalking, most likely due to the absence of available data. Below is a list of known projects with links to project pages, where available. If you are involved in a stalking project or know of a project in your state that is not listed, please contact us. Please note that most domestic violence projects will also include incidents of domestic stalking. You can view these on the Domestic Violence Projects Page.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in conjunction with the National Institute of Justice and the U.S. Department of Defense, is developing the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Surveillance System (NISVSS), which includes stalking behavior. This survey will sample households to establish incidence and prevalence estimates.
NIJ, through its Violence and Victimization Research Division, provides funding for various research projects related to violence against women. Ongoing projects can be found on the NIJ Grants page.
Transitional Housing for Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Stalking and Sexual Assault
The OVW provides grants to programs that provide assistance to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking who are in need of transitional housing, short-term housing assistance, and related support services.
Funded under the Office of Violence Against Women, Education and Technical Assistance Grants to End Violence Against Women with Disabilities Program, this project provides technical assistance to 22 grantees representing 19 different states. The goals of the program are to create greater options, services and remedies for women with disabilities experiencing sexual assault, stalking and/or domestic violence. The project challenges barriers that exist within the service provider community and public institutions that limit women with disabilities who have experienced violence from accessing services, and create a national coordinated response among service providers
STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grants Program
The STOP (Services, Training, Officers, and Prosecutors) Violence Against Women Formula Grants are awarded to states to develop and strengthen the criminal justice system's response to violence against women and to support and enhance services for victims.
Grants to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders
This discretionary grant program is designed to encourage state, local, and tribal governments and state, local, and tribal courts to treat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking as serious violations of criminal law requiring the coordinated involvement of the entire criminal justice system.
Rural Domestic Violence and Child Victimization
This discretionary grant program is designed to enhance services available to rural victims and children by encouraging community involvement in developing a coordinated response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and child abuse.
Legal Assistance for Victims
This discretionary grant program is designed to strengthen civil and criminal legal assistance programs for adult and youth victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking who are seeking relief in legal matters arising as a consequence of that abuse or violence.
This program is designed to strengthen the higher education community's response to sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence, and dating violence crimes on campuses, and to enhance collaboration between campuses and local criminal justice and victim advocacy organizations.
State Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Coalitions
OVW awards grants to each state domestic violence coalition and sexual assault coalition for the purposes of coordinating state victim services activities and collaborating and coordinating with federal, state, and local entities engaged in violence against women activities.
Tribal Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Coalitions
This discretionary grant program is designed for increasing awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault against American Indian and Alaska Native women, enhancing the response to such violence at the tribal, federal, and state levels, and providing technical assistance to coalition membership and tribal communities.
Enhanced Training and Services to End Violence and Abuse of Women Later in Life
This discretionary grant program is designed to address the issue of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, including domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking against victims who are 50 years of age or older, through training and services.
Education and Technical Assistance Grants to End Violence Against Women with Disabilities
This discretionary grant program is designed to provide training, consultation, and information on domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault against individuals with disabilities and to provide direct services to such individuals.
Safe Havens: Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange
This discretionary grant program helps create safe places for visitation with and exchange of children in cases of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, or stalking.
District of Columbia
Law Enforcement Specialized Units
The purpose of this program is to continue the efforts of law enforcement agencies to enhance or create specialized units to focus special effort on the handling of violent crimes against adult women, including sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking. The specialized units accomplish this purpose through thorough investigation, immediate victim advocacy, and training for law enforcement officers. Thorough investigation leads to successful prosecution of cases, immediate victim advocacy provides victims with the support and resources to help disrupt the cycle of violence, and training assists departments in providing a consistent, effective, and compassionate response to female victims of violent crime.
California Restraining and Protective Order System
The California Department of Justice (DOJ) houses the California Restraining and Protective Order System (CARPOS), a statewide database of persons subject to a restraining order. This database can only be accessed by court clerks and law enforcement. The CARPOS allows reported violations of restraining orders to be added to the existing restraining order record in the CARPOS. The violation message is designed to allow law enforcement and criminal justice agencies the capability to enter reported restraining order violations onto any record in the CARPOS. This information may assist prosecutors in building stalking cases and other types of criminal cases involving someone who has been the subject of a restraining order.
Threat Management and Stalking Vertical Prosecution Program
This program provides funds to District Attorney’s Offices to create or enhance specialized units to reduce the threat of victimization related to the crime of stalking through early arrest, prosecution, and sentencing of perpetrators charged with this crime. This program concentrates efforts and resources toward this offense, utilizing special investigators and vertical prosecution of offenders.
Violence Against Women Vertical Prosecution Program
The purpose of this program is to fund specialized units in prosecutor’s offices in California to vertically prosecute crimes against women, including sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and dating violence. Vertical prosecution has shown to improve conviction rates, reduce victim trauma, and provide more consistent and appropriate sentencing.
PA STOP Violence Against Women and Judicial Training
PCADV provides training and technical assistance to the 46 STOP Grant counties in Pennsylvania. Training topics for STOP team members, consisting of law enforcement, prosecutors and victims service providers, include the Protection From Abuse Act and its recent amendments, stalking, firearms and primary aggressor issues. A STOP newsletter is published and distributed to STOP grant teams on a quarterly basis. Training and technical assistance are also provided to domestic violence advocates around the Commonwealth. Regularly scheduled Legal Advocacy Committee meetings provide an opportunity for advocates to obtain training and share information and strategies to better assist victims of domestic violence and their children. A weekly electronic update further provides these advocates with current information to support their efforts.
A Statewide Study of Stalking and its Criminal Justice Response Grant 2007-WG-BX-0003
This study will explore the impact of identifying and charging for the crime of stalking in the state of Rhode Island on offender accountability as measured by successful prosecution as well as victim safety, as measured by re-arrest for domestic violence within two years. Researchers will use a multi-methods approach that includes secondary data analysis of a mandated law enforcement reporting system as well as court-based data regarding prosecution and qualitative interviews with select Rhode Island law enforcement officers, prosecutors, defense lawyers and court advocates for a more complete understanding of the factors influencing the criminal justice response to stalking. The researcher plans to explore answers to the question, "Does identifying the crime of stalking have an effect on prosecution outcomes, as well as longer terms outcomes in regard to subsequent arrests for domestic violence?" A sample of 1,297 incident and arrest reports where citations have been made by police for threats and harassment between January 1, 2001 and December 31, 2005, will be reviewed to extract those cases where stalking charges should have been brought against the suspects. These extracted cases will be compared with 140 cases during the same period where the suspects were actually cited for stalking. Comparisons will be made on a variety of characteristics, with the end result being the development of a more complete profile of stalkers. Qualitative interviews (group) with 30 key informants from smaller cities in Rhode Island will be conducted to assess factors that may influence the criminal justice response to stalking.
Visitation Center for Children of Domestic Violence Victims
The Utah Attorney General's Office created the state's first nonprofit visitation and exchange center for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, and their children. The All-R-Kids Center provides monitored exchanges where the visiting parent is carefully supervised, and guidelines are in place to ensure there is no contact between parents. The center was made possible by grants from the U.S. Department of Justice/Office on Violence Against Women.
Safe Haven Visitation and Exchange Plan Implementation Project
This project provides assistance for families experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and stalking. Four of the 34 state service providers are receiving funds to expand services, enhance safety, and increase center staff. In addition to the mandated OJP technical support, training and technical assistance to the four implementation sites are provided by subcontracts from the Children's Trust Fund to the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and Kieffer Consultation and Facilitation.
Domestic Violence Education Project
The Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and the University of Wyoming College of Law provide a Legal Services domestic violence clinic. Each semester, four student interns are assigned to represent victims of domestic violence in obtaining family violence protection orders, stalking orders, or divorces, or in custody matters. The Legal Services Program also includes training in developing client counseling skills and representing abused women.
There is a lot of literature related to violence against women, available both on the Web and in journals. Most journals allow individuals to purchase single articles online for a nominal fee. We have grouped the publications below by topic area, but a full list of reports can also be found on the Stalking Publications page. Please note that these publications were classified based on the title; if you feel that a publication should also be found in a category where it is not listed, or you have a publication you would like to add, please contact us.