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KICJ Research Reports

Understanding and Responding to Stalking 사진
Understanding and Responding to Stalking

Abstract

1. Characteristics of Stalking Offenders


  1) Sociodemographic Characteristics of Stalking Offenders


  Examining the characteristics of stalking offenders based on investigative and court records (N=112), the following points are summarized. Firstly, looking at sociodemographic characteristics, the majority of individuals sentenced to imprisonment for stalking violations were men, with the highest prence in the 40-50 age group and an average age of 45.63 years. About 42% of them were not maintaining their marital status at the time of the incident, with most (65.2%) living alone.


  In terms of education, 66.1% had graduated from high school or higher, but 76.8% were unemployed or had temporary jobs. A significant portion had a criminal record, with an average of 11.28 prior offenses, indicating challenges in obtaining normal employment due to a high criminal history or frequent incarceration. Among the offenders, 52.7% reported chronic alcohol abuse, and 41.1% had a history of mental illness, highlighting serious issues related to substance abuse and mental health.


  2) Characteristics of Stalking Crime Incidents


  Analyzing the characteristics of cases resulting in imprisonment under stalking laws, the most frequently observed types of stalking behaviors were ‘watching’ and ‘message delivery’, followed by ‘approach’. The average duration of stalking was 8.63 months, with 15.2% lasting over a year. In 67% of stalking cases, violent crimes were associated, with physical assault being the most commonly reported, along with other offenses like (specific) damage to property, filming using cameras, various forms of sexual assault, threats, and confinement.


  Out of the total 112 cases, 73.2%(82 cases) received one or more protective measures for the victims, including provisional measures, emergency measures, and urgent measures. Only 22.3% of cases with protective measures did not violate them, and provisional measure violations were the most frequent. Sentences for stalking crimes involved 67.9% of offenders receiving imprisonment for 1 year or more but less than 3 years, along with mandatory completion of stalking treatment programs (40 or 80 hours) in almost all cases, excluding two.


  3) Characteristics of Stalking Victims


  Summarizing the characteristics of stalking victims, the majority of cases involved a single female victim, with the highest proportion in their 40s and 50s. The average age of victims was 43.33 years, similar to the average age of offenders (45.63 years). Examining the relationship between stalkers and victims, 61.6% of cases targeted ‘former spouses or lovers’, 17% involved ‘acquaintances (friends, colleagues)’, and 11.6% targeted ‘casual acquaintances’.


  4) Characteristics of Stalking Types


  Utilizing Mullen's stalking type classification, analysis revealed that 67.9% of the total sample fell under the category of ‘rejected’. This type exhibited the highest likelihood (80.3%) of using violence during stalking incidents, emphasizing their higher risk of resorting to violence compared to other types.


  Assessing the presence of violence in stalking for each type, ‘rejected’ individuals showed the highest rate (80.3%), followed by approximately half for ‘intimacy seekers’, around one-third for ‘incompetent suitors’, and about one-fourth for resentful individuals’, confirming that the ‘rejected’ type had the highest tendency to use violence against the victims.


  5) uation of the Risk of Stalking Crimes


  Using the Stalking Assessment and Management(SAM) based on information from investigative and court records, the uation of the risk indicated that 69.6% of all cases were assessed as persistent stalking, with 64.3% experiencing an escalation in stalking. This suggests a substantial need for continuous risk management in handling these cases. Significant risk factors among perpetrators included ‘anger’, ‘antisocial lifestyle’, and ‘lack of remorse’. Vulnerability factors among victims included ‘unstable emotions’, ‘unsafe living conditions’, ‘relationship issues’, and ‘inconsistent behavior towards the perpetrator’.


  Examining the total risk assessment scores for each subtype, the vulnerability factor score for ‘rejected’ victims was statistically significantly higher than for other types. This implies that the risk of ‘rejected’ type incidents is relatively higher than other types, highlighting it as the most dangerous category. Factors influencing this higher risk include victim vulnerability factors, such as the victim's inconsistent attitudes or behaviors, exposure to the perpetrator in their living environment, or more significant negative impacts of stalking in intimate relationships, leading to a lower ability for victims to cope.


  6) Psychological Characteristics of Stalking Offenders


  Stalking offenders exhibited the most significant problems in clinical domains, including depression, delusion, borderline features, antisocial features, alcohol problems, aggression, suicidal thoughts, stress, and non-support. Except for some areas, clinical intervention with a score of 65T or higher was urgently needed for about one in four individuals, emphasizing the necessity of psychological intervention.


  Interpreting stalking offenders based on subtypes, the ‘rejected’ type appeared to be individuals with dominance and warmth characteristics close to the average for the adult sample, generally capable of interacting with others. In contrast, stalking offenders who were ‘non-rejected’ were individuals with a lower level of control and independence in interpersonal relationships than the general population, showing tendencies for obsession, delusion, and withdrawal depending on the psychiatric situation. Regarding clinical problems, non-rejected stalking offenders might show a higher level of issues in neurosis or psychosis compared to rejected stalkers. The non-rejected group was likely to experience frequent feelings of sadness or discomfort, lack interest in daily activities, and have decreased physical function and activity, as well as reduced sexual interest. This group might include shy individuals who find it challenging to actively pursue the romantic relationship. Additionally, they tend to perceive themselves as unfairly treated, experiencing humiliation and disdain in interpersonal situations, and might attribute their misfortune to others. Furthermore, individuals with social isolation tendencies in uncomfortable social situations are likely to be significantly included in this group. In contrast, rejected stalkers might exhibit more problems related to borderline personality features, alcohol issues, aggression, etc., suggesting a higher likelihood of possessing borderline personality disorder characteristics and expressing hostility, anger, and antagonism verbally and physically.


  7) Stalking Offender's Life Development


  Analyzing the comprehensive life development of stalking offenders based on the main contents of in-depth interviews, first, it was often observed that the childhood and family environment of stalking criminals involved unstable attachment formation with caregivers during childhood and exposure to domestic violence. Many individuals grew up in either extremely unfavorable family environments or dysfunctional states. Those who did not feel a sense of stability within their families often experienced adolescence marked by running away or escaping. In addition, during their adolescent years, many engaged in maladaptive lifestyles, such as unwanted pregnancies, early marriages, experiences of organizational violence, and involvement in illicit activities, within deviant peer groups.


  Concerning the socio-affective functions of stalking offenders, impulsivity, difficulty in anger management, physical fights, and a tendency towards violence were identified as major issues. Problems such as introverted tendencies, suspicion towards others, and psychological issues were prominent, particularly among incompetent suitor-type offenders. Due to their failure to establish healthy relationships during adolescence, distorted perceptions of women were common. Some engaged in coercive behavior to commit sexual assault or to incapacitate rejection from their targets.


  Throughout the progression of stalking crimes, recurring themes included the repetition of conflict situations, violent reactions to these conflicts, and the mediation of alcohol. Emotions such as betrayal in response to the victim's request for separation, a sense of injustice, resentment, or suspicion of the victim's infidelity were identified as factors that intensified the desire for revenge against the victim. In cases of the rejection subtype, emotions of revenge and lingering feelings of attachment were frequently present, while in cases of the inept subtype, loneliness, sexual desires, and unrealistic (delusional) thoughts about the other person's affection towards them played a role.


2. Improving the Protection of Stalking Victims at the Police Stage


  1) Status and Issues of Victim Support by Local Police Officers

  

  In analyzing the current status and issues related to the protection of stalking victims at the police stage after the enforcement of the revised Stalking Punishment Act on July 11, 2023, a focus group interview was conducted. Police officers perceived issues in stalking victim protection differently based on their roles. Local police officers felt limitations in taking active measures at the scene when the victim did not wish for the perpetrator's punishment, even with the enforcement and amendment of the Stalking Punishment Act. However, they positively recognized the removal of the provision regarding the unpunishable crimes without the victim's consent, as it allowed for action without being dependent on the victim's consent. This positive perception differed from that of investigators.


  Although local police officers are becoming more familiar with the application of the Stalking Punishment Act, there is still confusion with the Domestic Violence Prevention Act in busy situations of reporting processing. The use of the emergency measure assessment form was not well-established among local police officers for decision-making in emergency situations.


  2) Status and Issues of Victim Support by Stalking Specialized Police Officers


  The main work-related stress for stalking specialized police officers is related to discussions on measures for the protection and support of stalking victims with local police officers, investigators, and relevant institutions such as police and domestic violence counseling centers. As stalking specialized police officers lack coercive powers in investigations, their tasks related to the protection and support of stalking victims are based on the victim's consent. Therefore, when the victim does not consent, their ability to take measures is limited. Additional tasks, such as counseling for perpetrators or coordination with private protective agencies, have been identified as new challenges.


  3) Status and Issues of Victim Support by Investigators


  Investigators often experience cases where applications for provisional measures are rejected under the Stalking Punishment Act. Unlike applications for custody or arrest warrants, post-approval by the court is not common for emergency measures. In this context, some suggest that direct police application for post-approval could be more efficient for procedural efficiency and victim protection.


  Investigators perceive the deletion of the provision regarding the unpunishable crimes without the victim's consent as the most noticeable change in the Stalking Punishment Act amendment. While acknowledging the positive aspect of raising awareness among stalkers and the public, they also express concerns about the increased likelihood of prosecution, leading to a more thorough review of the existence of stalking in each case.


  4) Police Officers' Perception of Stalking Punishment Act Amendments


  The study examined police officers' awareness of the Stalking Punishment Act amendments. Among the eight major amendments, the deletion of the provision regarding crimes without the victim's consent was most significantly felt by police officers in charge of stalking-related tasks. Over half of the participating police officers responded positively to all eight Stalking Punishment Act amendments, with the “strengthening of sanctions for non-compliance with emergency measures” receiving the highest response rate (83.69%, 472 officers). The deletion of the provision regarding crimes without the victim's consent showed a significant difference in uation among the three groups of police officers. Specifically, 76.30% of local police officers and 80.82% of stalking specialized police officers uated the deletion positively, while only 53.79% of female investigators thought it would be helpful for stalking victim protection. The group of female investigators tended to uate the protective effect of the Stalking Punishment Act amendment the lowest among the three groups.


  Although not included in the recent Stalking Prevention Act amendments, the introduction of a “victim protection order system” was uated as the most helpful measure for enhancing victim protection (83.69%, 472 officers). The opinions of these police officers, who are the first to encounter stalking victims, could be valuable for future amendments to the Stalking Prevention Act.


3. Status and Challenges of Stalking Legislation


  1) Legislative Background and Key Provisions of the Stalking Legislation


  The Stalking Legislation defines “stalking behavior” and “stalking crime” separately, categorizing stalking behavior into five types. Stalking behavior is defined as “engaging in behavior that falls under the stalking type towards the other party, their cohabitant, or family without a justifiable reason, causing the other party to feel anxiety or fear, going against their will.” Stalking becomes a crime when persistence or repetition is added to this behavior. The law establishes special procedural regulations for handling stalking cases (emergency measures, urgent emergency measures, provisional measures) and introduces provisions for victim-focused investigations and penalties for stalking crimes. Despite the enactment of the Stalking Legislation, the law was revised in July 2023 due to ambiguous interpretations of stalking behavior and shortcomings in victim protection. The amended law strengthens regulations on online stalking, enhances the effectiveness of protective measures through methods such as attaching location tracking devices, and introduces new provisions such as notification of changes or cancellations of provisional measures for victims.


  2) Controversies Regarding the Constituent Elements of Stalking Crimes


  Concerning the constituent elements of stalking crimes, there are issues with the deion method of stalking behavior types. The enumerated method of describing stalking behavior types fails to encompass various stalking types, and there is a problem with the law not being able to address evolving stalking behavior types. Another controversy involves the strict criteria for determining stalking behavior and crimes. The requirement of “going against the other party's will” implies intent, making it challenging to judge stalking crimes with unclear perpetrators or imprecise victim information. Since stalking is about causing “anxiety” or “fear”, actual feelings of anxiety or fear must be induced, creating difficulty in cases where it is challenging to prove persistence over a certain period. 


  3) Controversies Regarding the Stalking Case Processing Procedure


  Under the current Stalking Legislation, when stalking occurs, emergency measures (Article 3), urgent emergency measures (Article 4), and provisional measures (Article 9) can be implemented. However, the police-prosecutor-court approval process for these measures causes delays in implementing protective measures due to the difficulty in determining all elements of stalking behavior on the spot. Urgent emergency measures mainly focus on restraining offline actions, making them unsuitable for responding to online stalking. There have been suggestions to simplify the post-approval process for urgent emergency measures. In Japan, they have streamlined the process through warning and protection orders, providing a potential reference. Although provisional measures have seen some improvements through recent legal amendments, there is still a need for enhancement, considering the low approval rate and the limited types of provisional measures available for quick intervention.


  4) Controversies Regarding the Protection of Stalking Victims


  The Stalking Legislation restricts the concept of victims to those suffering “direct” harm, creating a problem as it limits protection to cases where there is a direct victim. Due to this limitation, situations where stalking harm occurs through third parties or where individuals closely related to the victim, such as coworkers, cannot receive protection remain unregulated. While the amended Stalking Legislation introduced provisions for protecting the personal safety of victims, prohibiting the disclosure of the victim's identity and private life, and providing special arrangements for victim attorneys, there are issues in police practices as they restrict the scope of personal safety measures to the “victim” only. The legislation lacks provisions for protecting victim information, which is crucial considering the nature of stalking crimes, where perpetrators and victims often know each other. It may be worthwhile to refer to provisions in the Sexual Violence Crime Act that apply regulations similar to the witness protection law, allowing the omission of personal information, prohibiting the disclosure of personal information, and granting access to identity card management.


  5) Controversies Regarding Stalking Crime Penal Provisions


  The punishment for stalking crimes is divided into simple stalking acts and carrying weapons during stalking. Apart from these, most provisions deal with the penalties for non-compliance with measures. In the United States, Germany, and Austria, various types of behaviors are subject to aggravated penalties in stalking crimes. There is a need for regulations that impose aggravated penalties for cases resulting in death or injury, actions against minors, and prolonged stalking. The recent legal revision abolished the unpunishable crime without the victim's consent. Since the victim's opinion is not solicited, providing opportunities for the victim to testify in the investigative and trial process is necessary. Given the emphasis on non-contact with the victim, there should be opportunities for reconciliation attempts through the criminal settlement system.


4. Strengthening Measures Against Stalking Crimes


  1) Establishment and Utilization of the Four Criminogenic Factors of Stalking


  Upon comprehensive examination of investigative trial records, risk assessment, psychological tests, and in-depth interviews conducted in this study, the criminogenic factors of stalking perpetrators can be summarized into four major categories. Firstly, cognitive distortion plays a significant role. The criminal acts of stalking offenders often stem from distorted thoughts and attitudes that support the crimes, involving persistent approaches or contacts against the victim's will, based on a mindset that justifies their actions, even if they acknowledge the actions as crimes. The cognitive distortions during stalking incidents likely contribute to disinhibition, allowing the crimes to occur.


  Socio-affective functioning refers to skills related to maintaining interpersonal relationships adequately, such as forming intimacy, communication skills, and empathy. Problems in the Socio-affective functioning of stalking perpetrators appear to vary according to specific subtypes. Non-rejected stalkers generally experience frequent emotional distress, such as sadness or discomfort, lack interest in daily activities, have lower levels of physical function and activity, and exhibit a diminished sexual interest. Moreover, they tend to have paranoid tendencies, feeling insulted and humiliated in interpersonal relationships. In contrast, rejected stalkers, specifically those with borderline personality disorder traits, may exhibit more issues related to antisocial behavior, substance abuse, aggression, etc.


  The lack of self-regulation skills is linked to inappropriate coping skills under stressful situations. Notably, there is a high prence of substance abuse, especially alcohol, categorized as maladaptive coping methods under stressful situations. In stalking cases, instances of violent confrontations during conflict situations are often associated with alcohol use. The perpetrators themselves recognize the deficiency in their self-management skills, linking the problem to excessive reliance on alcohol during stressful situations.


  By using the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI), specific patterns of psychopathology among these individuals were identified, with the most significant issues found in areas such as depression, delusions, borderline traits, antisocial traits, alcohol-related problems, and suicidal ideation. Notably, non-rejected stalkers exhibit higher levels of depressive symptoms, emotional distress, and suicidal ideation, indicating a potential association with depression.


  The psychopathological issues of stalking perpetrators influence their stalking behavior, impair emotional regulation, and weaken their coping abilities under stress. Factors such as suicidal thoughts linked to depression or plans for violent and homicidal acts associated with antisocial personality disorder should be considered as explicit risk factors for stalking perpetrators in risk management.


  2) Approach to Stalking Perpetrator Risk Management


  Effectively managing the risk factors of stalking perpetrators during the investigation, trial, or probation stages, when they are not in custody but within society, is crucial. Risk management involves protective measures for the victim's safety, such as restraining orders or monitoring through the attachment of electronic devices to trace or control the perpetrator's movements. However, equally important is the identification and assessment of the criminogenic factors of stalking perpetrators and the development of a risk management plan based on these factors.


  To facilitate the practical application of risk assessment tools, a classification of stalking subtypes is necessary. The purpose of subtype classification is to better understand stalking behavior and identify behavior patterns among subgroups. Both previous research findings and the empirical investigation in this study suggest four major subtypes of stalking: 1) Rejected Stalker, 2) Intimacy Seeker, 3) Incompetent Suitor, and 4) Resentful Stalker. If practitioners encounter difficulty classifying all four types, it is recommended to at least distinguish between 1) Rejected Stalker and 2) Non-Rejected Stalker (Intimacy Seeker, Incompetent Suitor, Resentful Stalker) for risk management purposes. Non-rejected stalkers or intimacy pursuers, in particular, pose a higher risk of violence as they engage in stalking behaviors against intimate partners or acquaintances rather than strangers.


  After confirming the subtype of stalking, the risk assessment process involves using stalking risk assessment tools to uate each risk factor, calculate scores, and present risk levels. Risk factors can be assessed by practitioners, such as police or probation officers, based on investigation, trial records, or interview records. The characteristics of both the stalking perpetrator and the victim, as well as the specifics of the case, must be systematically uated, with scores calculated for each area. The assignment of risk levels can be subjective, either using the total risk score or allowing experienced assessors to allocate risk levels based on their judgment.


  Calculating risk levels is essential for understanding the severity of the case, but the primary focus should be on monitoring how each risk factor changes over regular assessments and developing appropriate risk management plans accordingly. Practitioners should collaborate across various agencies, including law enforcement and victim support organizations, to share risk management plans, ensuring a coordinated effort in managing stalking cases.


  Given the unpredictable nature of stalking incidents, with perpetrators' behavior being highly variable during investigation and trial processes, regular risk assessments are necessary. For high-risk cases, assessments should be conducted at least every 1-2 months or more frequently if the risk is particularly elevated. Special attention should be paid to the rejected subtype (those who have been rejected) in terms of imminent violence and the intimacy pursuer subtype in terms of the ongoing nature of the case. Risk factors should be periodically uated to determine if the stalking incidents are getting more violent or if tension levels are escalating.


  During risk factor assessment, it is crucial to check for the presence of violence in the stalking case. Factors indicating a potential escalation to violence include high levels of anger on the perpetrator's side, ongoing threats to the victim, a history of substance abuse, and persistent symptoms of antisocial or borderline personality disorders. From the victim's perspective, an unsafe living environment exposing the victim's whereabouts or inconsistent attitudes and behaviors in dealing with the perpetrator may also signal an increased risk of violating protective measures. In such cases, close monitoring and heightened surveillance levels are necessary, focusing on maintaining victim safety.


  3) Specialized Psychological Intervention for Stalking Offenders


  Psychological issues discussed as triggers for stalking offenders' criminal tendencies should be addressed as quickly as possible. Especially when the offender is undergoing investigation or trial while not in custody, psychological intervention to forcibly control their criminal intent is necessary to prevent additional harm to the victim. While voluntary intervention is preferable, the nature of stalking offenders, characterized by cognitive distortions, may lead to a lack of selfawareness and even support or justification of their crimes. Therefore, at the police stage, it is essential to enforce psychological intervention through measures like the introduction of “counseling delegation” for provisional measures. In the offender's post-conviction stage (probation, correction, etc.), including psychoeducation orders or completion orders of psychological treatment, psychological intervention is crucial for preventing recidivism.


  Whether psychological intervention for stalking offenders occurs at the police, probation, or correction stages, it is important to conceptualize psychological issues based on the four major areas of stalking crimes and uate and manage them as a case.


  4) Improvement Measures for Stalking Victim Protection at the Police Stage


  In comparison to the application for detention or arrest warrants, emergency measures usually go through the prosecutor's request and subsequent court approval, with changes or rejections being rare in practice. To enhance the efficiency and speed of the criminal justice system, it is suggested to allow the police to directly request post-approval from the court for emergency measures, especially in cases where access prohibition is unavoidable or there are justifiable reasons for exceptions. To specify conditions for establishing access prohibition, an additional criterion of “without justifiable reason” is recommended. Introducing a victim protection order system, where victims can directly request court protection orders for their safety, separate from the offender's criminal proceedings, is deemed necessary.


  5) Improvement Measures for the Stalking Punishment Act


  The current Stalking Punishment Act distinguishes between “stalking behavior” and “stalking crime”, requiring proof of five conditions: acting against the other person's will, without justifiable reason, falling into seven specified types of behaviors, causing fear or distress, and being continuous or repetitive. As meeting all five conditions for stalking crime is challenging, there is a need to review and refine the content to better address the characteristics of stalking crimes.


  1) Change the condition “against the other person's will” to “without the other person's consent” to address the difficulty in confirming the other person's will and the potential disparity in perceptions. 2) Include additional stalking behavior types, such as applying for services for the other person or committing animal cruelty against the other person's pets or service animals. 3) Introduce a catch-all provision like Germany's, covering behaviors similar to those listed. 4) Expand the concept of “the other person” to include those closely related, such as family, cohabitants, and coworkers, for effective protection. 5) Remove the term “continuous” and incorporate it into the aggravated punishment clause to address the repetition and continuity within the framework of aggravated punishment.


  To ensure swift response and application of emergency measures, improvements are needed in procedural steps. 1) Remove the “with a likelihood of continuous conduct” from the emergency measures criteria. 2) Add “prohibition of access via mail” to the types of emergency measures. 3) Include the police in the notification recipients for changes in provisional measures since they can ly respond to the situation.


  For stalking offenders with mental health issues or a history of alcohol abuse, additional sanctions like “hospitalization or assignment to other medical facilities” and “counseling delegation to counseling centers” should be introduced. Finally, it is recommended that we should expand the concept of the victim to include those closely related, introduce a victim protection order system, and strengthen personal information protection for the victim in the Stalking Punishment Act.

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