LGBTI people are twice as likely to be stalked as heterosexual people, research has revealed.

Curtin University researcher Dr Lorraine Sheridan is currently working on a study on stalking based on previous key findings, which include shocking figures about the LGBTI community.

The study revealed 44 per cent of LGBTI respondents had experienced forced sexual contact, 27 per cent had experienced their stalker threatening to kill themselves, 61 per cent experienced verbal abuse and one-third had been injured or physically hurt by their stalker.

“It’s not just a case of sending emails or hanging around the house, or following in the streets – it’s serious stuff,” Dr Sheridan told the Star Observer.

“It’s a lot worse than people think.”

Dr Sheridan believes the higher rate of stalking is partly because minority groups tend to victimise each other.

“When people are in a minority group, people tend to victimise each other slightly more because there is less of a pool to choose from, so you’re less likely to let go of someone,” she said.

But heterosexual people stalking members of the LGBTI community is another reason the rates are so high.

“Heterosexual people are stalking them because they refuse to accept that they are gay – they can’t handle that they’re gay, they want to turn them. They want to make them straight,” Dr Sheridan said.

“It’s this ‘if you only spent an hour with me, I could make you straight’ – that’s the message they are giving.”

Although LGBTI people experience some of the same core stalking experiences heterosexual people do, Dr Sheridan said it was usually very different.

“LGBTI people really differed in terms of (being) more likely to be stalked because of their sexual orientation, and more likely to self harm,” she said.

“They were twice as likely to be stalked as heterosexual people. It’s really a massive issue.”

Stalking in the LGBTI community mostly presents itself in a physical way like following, taking photos and direct threats.

Each case of stalking recorded for the study also went on for more than three months.

Dr Sheridan is currently leading the largest ever study into stalking at Curtin University’s School of Psychology and Speech Pathology.

Previous research revealed one in five women and one in twenty men are victimised by stalking at some point in their lives.

Violent offences like sexual assault and homicide often follow a period of stalking.

The new research will investigate stalking victimisation and associated violence rates among young adults, with findings to be used to inform counselling and social service practices for adequate intervention strategies for victims.

The study is seeking people of both genders, who have and have not been stalked, aged between 18 and 40 years-old.

For more information, visit the study’s website here.

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