Stalking and the impact of labelling “There’s a difference between my offence and a stalker”

Journal article


Wheatley, R. and Underwood, A. 2023. Stalking and the impact of labelling “There’s a difference between my offence and a stalker”. Journal of Criminal Psychology. 13 (2), pp. 91-104. https://doi.org/10.1108/jcp-07-2021-0026
AuthorsWheatley, R. and Underwood, A.
Abstract

Purpose
This paper aims to consider stalking as an offending behaviour and the prevailing narratives associated with this offending behaviour given the increased attention of society and criminal justice. The stereotypes and labels associated with the offending behaviour often sensationalise aspects of those who engage in stalking. Frequently, individuals are portrayed as disturbed, psychopathic, mentally ill, violent and culturally deviant. Sometimes stalking behaviour is perversely downplayed as romantic perseverance. The impact of the stalker label extends outward from the act of marking legal and societal transgression, which impacts upon prospects for rehabilitation and desistance through the shaping of assumptions and maintenance of disempowering connotations.

Design/methodology/approach
This paper considers the impact of the stalking label as a therapeutic-, and perhaps rehabilitation-interfering problem for those who have stalked, drawing on recent research by Wheatley, Winder and Kuss (2020a).

Findings
It discusses the wide-ranging implications of labelling in this context and considers therapeutic approaches for intervention that may encourage rehabilitation engagement, mitigate shame and support desistance from a strengths-based perspective.

Originality/value
This paper draws on recent research exploring stalking case narratives of their own experiences of what drives stalking behaviour, existing labelling literature, and on specialist practitioners’ experiences of working with this group, to influence future thinking and research to address nuances highlighted.

Keywordsstalking ; labels ; desistance
Year2023
JournalJournal of Criminal Psychology
Journal citation13 (2), pp. 91-104
PublisherEmerald
ISSN2009-3829
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1108/jcp-07-2021-0026
Web address (URL)https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JCP-07-2021-0026/full/html
http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-85148429719&partnerID=MN8TOARS
Output statusPublished
Publication dates20 Feb 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted2022
Deposited15 Jan 2024
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