The Impact of Post-Intimate Stalking on the General Sexual and Relational Life of Victims.
Kennedy, Kevin P
The Impact of Post-Intimate Stalking on the General Sexual and Relational Life of Victims.\ud Background: Research to date indicates that intimate stalking is a significant public health problem. Studies illustrate the psychological, occupational and mental health impact on a victim’s health. There appears to be a lack of research that has explored the impact of stalking behaviours on a victim’s sexual or relational lives. Aim: This exploratory study examined the impact of stalking victimisation on a victim’s general, sexual and relational lives. The study examined the participant’s service and social support networks in relation to how this affected post-stalking recovery. In addition, personal narratives of recovery were examined to ascertain whether participants were able to reflect on their story with a view to use such reflections to assist in future personal safety. Methodology: The study utilised narrative inquiry that incorporated the use of a critical event hierarchy. Semi-structured interviews were specifically designed for the study. These collected data ethically with verbal reassurances at sensitive parts of the interview. A purposeful sampling technique recruited 14 participants. The critical events hierarchy helped to refine and present data analysis. Results: Analysis of the data led to the emergence of six narratives, grouped into the following four themes; the acute recovery journey; emerging recovery; past, present sex and relationship factors, and reflective learning. Participants’ narratives illustrated evidence of sexual and relational health recovery. Themes one and two illustrate an acute-reorganisation phase of recovery. Theme three depicts a phase of recovery where intimate and sexual cognitions were evident. A defensive survivorship modality was present in theme four, where participants sought intimate relationship and sexual interactions cautiously. Conclusion: The study portrays the participants’ recovery journey from stalking. In this study, participants who endured both domestic violence and stalking recovered slower than participants who endured stalking alone. Social support positively influenced the recovery journey for the participants. Future research could include the adaptation of the mental health recovery model for use by stalking victims. Moreover, a patient sexual safety checklist could be developed through the employment of qualitative and quantitative methods. If the results of this study are replicated in larger studies, mental health service providers will need to adapt existing organisational, clinical governance and risk systems to incorporate adequate responses to stalking victimisation. Educational and training programmes need to be developed to assist mental health professionals in understanding and working with both victims and stalkers.
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