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Stalking: false claims of victimisation

  • Michele Pathé (a1), Paul E. Mullen (a1) and Rosemary Purcell (a1)

Abstract

Background

False allegations of victimisation although uncommon are important to recognise. This paper examines those who falsely claim to have been the victims of stalking.

Aims

To highlight the phenomenon of false victims of stalking.

Method

Twelve individuals who falsely claimed to be victims of stalking were compared with a group of 100 true stalking victims.

Results

False stalking victims presented for help earlier than real victims and were less likely to claim harassment via letters. They reported equivalent levels of violence directed at themselves but seldom claimed others were attacked. Five types of false claimants were recognisable. False victims consumed more medical services than genuine stalking victims and they were more likely to be embroiled in legal action. They reported similar levels of distress with suicidal ruminations in over 40%.

Conclusions

The current interest in stalking is promoting false claims of being stalked. Early identification of these cases and appropriate intervention are essential to both minimising abuses of resources available to true victims and equally to ensure appropriate care for those who express their own disordered state in false claims of victimisation.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Dr M. Pathé, 213–219 Brunswick Road, Brunswick, Victoria 3056, Australia

Footnotes

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Declaration of interest None.

Footnotes

References

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Eisendrath, S. J. (1994) When Munchausen becomes malingering: factitious disorders that penetrate the legal system. Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law, 24, 471481.
Feldman-Schorrig, S. (1996) Factitious sexual harassment. Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Low, 24, 387392.
Janofsky, J. S. (1994) The Munchausen syndrome in civil forensic psychiatry. Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law, 22, 489497.
Kanin, E. J. (1994) False rape allegations. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 23, 8192.
Long, B. L., (1994) Psychiatric diagnoses in sexual harassment cases. Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law, 22, 195203.
Mohandie, K., Hatcher, C. A Raymond, D. (1996) False victimization syndromes. In The Psychology of Stalking: Clinical and Forensic Perspectives (ed. Meloy, J. R.), pp. 227257. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Pathé, M. & Mullen, P. E. (1997) The impact of stalkers on their victims. British Journal of Psychiatry, 170, 1217.
SPSS Corporation (1997) SY5TAT for Windows, version 7.01. Chicago, IL: SPSS, Inc.
Travis, J., Holden, G., Moran, L. D., et al (1996) Domestic Violence. Stalking, and Anti-Stalking Legislation. Annual Report to Congress, March 1996. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice.

Stalking: false claims of victimisation

  • Michele Pathé (a1), Paul E. Mullen (a1) and Rosemary Purcell (a1)

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Stalking: false claims of victimisation

  • Michele Pathé (a1), Paul E. Mullen (a1) and Rosemary Purcell (a1)
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