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Stalking

Less than half of stalking victims report incidents to Gardaí

Many members of the study had a general lack of trust in An Garda Síochána regarding gender-based violence or a fear that they would not be believed.

AN IRISH STUDY of 892 people who were the victims of stalking or harassment has found that most respondents had been uncomfortable reporting incidents to the Gardaí.

The University College Cork study was undertaken in partnership with the Sexual Violence Centre Cork (SVCC), and also found that most victims had known their perpetrators. 

44% of respondents indicated that the perpetrators threatened to harm them or those close to them, directly or indirectly, while there were 367 reports of the perpetrator threatening to harm themselves around the respondent.

52% of perpetrators had been partners or ex-partners of their victims, 23% were considered acquaintances and 14% had been friends.

In 28% of cases the perpetrator was categorised as a stranger.

Only 42% of respondents indicated that they reported the incidents to An Garda Síochána. 

For those who did report, experiences of reporting were more likely to be negative than positive, but key features of positive experiences included being believed, being taken seriously and having the report followed up.

For those who did not report, and who gave reasons, they had a general lack of trust in An Garda Síochána regarding gender-based violence and/or a fear that they would not be believed.

“The main objective of the study was to focus on the process of stalking and harassment, the effects on those who have been stalked and harassed and their responses to these behaviours,” stated Dr Catherine O’Sullivan.  

The research’s publishers said that their work was prompted by two women, Una Ring and Eve McDowell, who spoke out about their experiences of stalking and advocated for the introduction of a new stalking offence in addition to the existing harassment offence in Ireland.  

“Our findings identify a range of avoidance behaviours used by victims to protect themselves and reveals the social, financial, physical, and psychological consequences of stalking and harassment” stated Dr Ciara Staunton.  

Impacts

Changing routes from home or school and giving up social activities were the most common social impacts mentioned by respondents.

They reported being threatened (44%), physically attacked (34%) and sexually assaulted (43%), while 44% of respondents had been left out of pocket by their experiences due to having to pay for counselling, therapies, legal advice or installing security systems.

The report recommended that the Department of Justice conduct an information campaign for the public on stalking and harassment which would include information on the effects of stalking and would encourage people to get help from Gardaí.

It also recommended that dedicated funding be put in place to support the provision of counselling and other services for those who experience stalking or harassment, and that Gardaí are given more training on the issue.

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