Stalking Risk Assessment - Knowing Who is Dangerous and How to Protect Yourself and Others

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Presenting Author(s): Dr. Roy Ulrich, MD

Date and time: 21 Mar 2020 from 14:00 to 14:30

Location: Hawthorn A  Floor Map

Learning Objectives:

  1. Awareness of the high prevalence of stalking victimization in psychiatrists and MH professionals;
  2. Know the major risk factors for violence and long durations of harassing behaviours.; and
  3. Learn strategies to deal with patient who stalk/harass and actions to protect yourself and others.


Stalking, also known as harassment or obsessional following, is a crime that refers to repeated and unwanted communication, following,or physical contact. Stalking behaviors range from unwanted phone calls, emails, letters and gifts to pronouncements of love to overtly criminal behavior such as uttering threats, home invasion, assaults, and murder. Stalking is a common experience among physicians; 14.9% report being victims of stalking by their patient(s) at some point in their careers, and the rate among psychiatrists is higher still. The harm caused by stalking can be both psychological and physical. Virtually all victims report distress, and most make disruptive changes to their lives to avoid their stalker. Approximately 1/3 experience psychiatric comorbidity. While most stalkers are non-violent, depending on stalker and victim characteristics, the risk of violence can approach 50% in a given stalking episode. With this in mind, knowledge of stalking risk assessment and the factors that render stalking situations more or less dangerous can be valuable in guiding our actions in managing these situations. This presentation will focus on identifying the different types of stalkers, important risk factors for stalking violence and persistence, and some advice on what mental health professionals should do to protect themselves and their troubled patients who stalk.

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