The experiences of people who have been stalked are to be examined in a major new study.
Catherine Zeta Jones is a high-profile victim of stalking
An estimated 900,000 adults in Britain are stalked ever year, with the behaviour sometimes leading to assault, rape and even murder.
Victims are often left with lasting psychological damage which can include panic attacks and nervous breakdowns.
The study is being conducted by experts at the University of Leicester and the charity Network for Surviving Stalking.
High profile victims of stalking include Madonna, actress Catherine Zeta Jones and film director Steven Spielberg.
Researchers behind the study believe many people still fail to recognise the gravity of stalking, with victims often being left to suffer in silence.
The research team aim to record victims' first-hand experiences.
Using an online questionnaire, people will be asked to provide views on how their case was handled by police, as well as media reporting of stalking.
They will also be given the opportunity to suggest ways in which they believe they could have been better protected.
The findings will be published to coincide with Stalking Awareness Month, in January 2005.
Dr Lorraine Sheridan, a lecturer at the University of Leicester School of Psychology, is a leading expert in the psychology of stalking.
She said: "The work we have carried out over the last seven years has told us that normal people, not celebrities, are the vast majority of stalking victims.
"We also know that anyone can become the victim of a stalker, and that individual stalkers will have very different motives."
Outlining the thinking behind the study, she added: "What we want to do now is to examine for the first time the far-reaching
effects that stalking has, not only on its victims, but also on numerous third parties.
"The physical, emotional and financial costs will be measured, and a 'roadmap' of the course and nature of stalking will be produced.
"Stalking is a major issue that touches millions of lives but people have so many misconceptions about it."
People who have been stalked are being asked to log on to a website - www.stalkingsurvey.com - and fill out a questionnaire.
Tracey Morgan, director of charity Network for Surviving Stalking, said: "The results of this research are going to
be crucial to the way stalking is dealt with and the way victims are treated - we cannot do this without the help of victims of stalking."
Richard Jan was dubbed by police as Britain's worst stalker
"We need to know how they feel about the stalking, the criminal justice system and how it is affecting those around them.
"The more people who complete this questionnaire, the better chance we have of making a real difference in the future."
Assistant Chief Constable Jim Gamble oversees domestic violence and harassment at the Association of Chief Police Officers.
He said: "This project will provide invaluable information which will educate the police and allow us to deliver more effective solutions."