Researcher at Washington and Lee University used data on women drawn from three major surveys that used face-to-face interviews to collect information on potential determinants of mental disorders in the United States.
According to the study's data, 7.7 percent of women report being stalked by the age of 45. For women between 18 and 22 years age, those who have experienced stalking but not sexual assault, during this period in their lives have an estimated 113 percent greater odds of suffering their first bout of psychological distress than women of the same age who were not stalked.
But the study finds that the adverse impact of stalking on mental health is even more pronounced for women who are older when they are first stalked.
In compiling this data, the researchers distinguished between women who had been only stalked and those who had been both stalked and sexually assaulted.
"In the age range 23-29, for example, the effects of stalking starts to approach the same level of negative psychological impact on the victim as sexual trauma. My understanding is that stalking is not viewed nearly as seriously by the general public as sexual assault. This research suggests that we should re-examine that attitude," researcher Timothy Diette said.