Stalking involves one person’s obsessive behavior towards another person, causing an individual to fear for his or her safety. Men and women can be perpetrators and victims, but most cases involve men stalking women. This type of harassment can occur in public places or on the internet, and either can come with threats of physical harm. Even if the threats are empty and nothing happens, the stress can be tremendous and disruptive. Stalkers can be former spouses, colleagues and friends. Statistics show that many victims are stalked by those they know, not random strangers. Learn to recognize the warning signs and diffuse what could turn into a potentially dangerous situation.
Various Classifications of Stalkers
Not all stalkers are cut from the same cloth. Some are psychotic; others are narcissistic. They could suffer from an assortment of mental disorders. It’s essential for victims to determine what kind of abuser they are faced with.
The Rejected Stalker – Common, persistent and intrusive, these stalkers are obsessed with somebody who has ended a relationship with them, usually a romantic partner. They are angry because they have been, or perceived to have been, humiliated or treated unfairly. These stalkers will struggle with the complex desire for both reconciliation and revenge.
The Erotomaniac Stalker – These types of stalkers will believe the target is in love with him or her, even if the other person is not aware of the stalker’s existence. The targets are often people with a higher social status and could be well known individuals, i.e. celebrities. A simple smile from the target or a friendly greeting may be interpreted by the erotomaniac as a coded message conveying love and affection. Unless they end up behind bars, threats of legal action are not likely to deter these stalkers.
The Resentful Stalker – Like rejected stalkers, resentful stalkers base their stalking on revenge, but it’s revenge for different reasons. The stalker would view the target as being similar, or exactly the same as anyone who has abused, cheated or humiliated him or her in the past. The goal is to frighten, distress and to strike back at an oppressor. These stalkers are likely to use verbal threats, but least likely to act on them.
The Warning Signs of Stalking Behavior
Recognizing a stalker in plain sight is impossible. They are in every socio-economic group and could initially appear to be quite charming, while others will be shy and socially awkward. There are several signs of stalking behavior which, while not overly threatening in the beginning, can escalate with alarming speed if the stalker doesn’t get a response from the intended victim. Here are some common indicators:
– Repeated phone calls with silent messages or persistent hang ups;
– Hanging around the victim’s place of employment;
– Making unannounced and unwanted visits to the victim’s home;
– Consistently bumping into the same person at the grocery store or coffee shop; and
Vandalizing personal property or harming pets.
What Stalking Victims Should and Shouldn’t Do
Take any warning signs seriously. If nothing is done the problem will get worse because this will fuel the stalker’s obsession. Talk to a friend, co-worker or family member, and call the police immediately. Keep all recorded phone messages, e-mails, gifts and letters sent by the individual. Make details notes about dates, times, places and threats because it will be easier to explain the details when they are written down.
Do not under any circumstances contact or agree to meet the stalker. Victims should never try to reason with them, because stalkers can’t be convinced not to stalk. They need professional help. Moving to a new house or changing jobs should only be done as a last resort. If this happens contact everybody from family members to the vehicle registration bureau and make absolutely certain nobody gives out the new address and/or phone number. Stalking is a criminal offense and victims should take action quickly to stop the problem.