A new study led by a team of researchers right up the road at Washington and Lee University is breaking down what happens to women after they become victims of stalking.
Timothy Diette is an associate professor of economics at Washington and Lee.
Diette says women who are victims of stalking are two to three times more likely to suffer from psychological distress than those with similar characteristics who have never been stalked.
He says the affects reach a level of clinical diagnosis, which more often than not, goes untreated.
The team got to its results by surveying 8,109 women across the country. They then placed those women in categories by their ages and classified them into four different life-cycle groups.
Those include adolescence (12-17), early emerging adulthood (18-22), late-emerging adulthood (23-29) and early middle age (30-45).
The study finds that older women experience these psychological effects such as depression, anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder.
Diette says the late emerging adulthood and early middle age groups have a greater chance of having those issues than younger women.
According to the results, there’s a 265% chance that those women between the ages of 23 to 29 will have mental health issues. There’s a 138% chance for the early middle age group compared to those women who have never faced this kind of trauma.
Diette says he hopes his research will help prompt people to pay more attention to stalking.
"I think it is something that is dismissed as a lesser trauma in the sense that it’s not necessarily something that physically happens,” he said in a Skype interview with WDBJ 7. “In some cases stalking could result in sexual assault in many cases folks are more concerned about that physical events, but there are psychological costs that people will pay for being the victim of stalking.”
The research team says stalking can happen in different forms, including frequent and unwelcome telephone calls, emails, letters and even physically following someone.
They believe once someone enters the labor force or has family responsibilities, stalking is likely to take new forms.
Diette says the research took about three years to complete.