Stalking Series: Part Three

Types of Stalkers

In part 1 of this series we established that stalking is about power and control and in part 2 we discussed the behaviors commonly associated to stalking but, there are also different types of stalkers.  Stalkers come from all different backgrounds and have different personalities. They are, by their nature, obsessive and dangerous individuals. Researchers have developed general classifications of stalkers that can be useful for understanding what the heck is going on in a stalking situation, however, it is ideal to have a properly trained professional conduct a threat assessment on these characters.  Our reason for sharing this info with you is that certain characteristics can alert investigators and assist them in assessing threat and safety planning.

One commonly used typology to classify stalkers identifies them by their relationship to the victim.  These are either intimate or non-intimate as defined below:

Intimate – A former relationship exists between the stalker and the victim. There is most likely a history of abuse, such as domestic violence. In these cases the stalker is often trying to reestablish a relationship that the victim has tried to end.

Non-intimate – The stalker has no relationship with the victim. The stalker chooses the victim after a very brief encounter, or after simply observing the victim at some place. In these cases the victim is usually unable to identify the stalker when they first become aware that they are being stalked.

Another widely accepted typology is based on the stalker’s motivations, these types include:

Simple Obsessional – This is the most common type of stalker. This type is usually male and the victim is an ex-spouse, former intimate partner, or a former boss. With the simple obsessional stalker, the stalking often results from the stalker feeling that the victim has mistreated him (or her) in some way.

Love Obsessional – This stalker is a casual acquaintance or a stranger to the victim. Love obsessional stalkers start a campaign of harassment to ensure that the victim is aware of his or her existence. This type often stalks celebrities or public figures but they have also been known to stalk non-celebs.

Erotomania – This stalker falsely believes that the victim is in love with him (or her) and that, if not for some external obstacle, they would actually be together. Creepy, we know. The Erotomania type selects a victim who is rich and/or famous, or is in a position of power. In this situation, the stalker may pose a risk to people who are close to the victim because close relations may be perceived by the stalker as being “in the way”.

False Victimization Syndrome – This is a very rare type of stalking that involves an individual who consciously or subconsciously wants to play the role of a victim. This stalker makes up a complex story where they claim to be a victim of stalking. In these cases, the would-be victim is the actual stalker, and the alleged offender is really the victim.

Stalkers often exhibit behaviors from more than one of the typologies we’ve described here. These categories should be treated as an overview for your general info, not a substitute for a thorough threat assessment. Regardless of the type of stalker you’re dealing with, you should always be mindful that a stalker may be capable of killing their victim.  This is some serious stuff.  Stalking is not a game of cat and mouse, it is often a precursor to more violent acts. We really can’t stress enough that any person who suspects that he or she is being stalked should report all contacts and incidents to local law enforcement as soon as possible.

Stalking victims should document every incident as thoroughly as possible, including keeping videotapes, audiotapes, screen shots of texts and snaps, voice mail messages, photos of property damage, letters/emails received and any objects left by the stalker. It is also highly recommended that victims keep a journal to document all incidents, including the time, date, and other relevant information for each interaction.

We hope our stalking series has provided you with a greater awareness and ability to recognize stalking if it happens to you. Feel free to let us know how we did and always… stay vigilant friends!

 

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Stalking Series: Part Two

Stalking Behavior

Welcome to part-two of our stalking series.  Just to re-cap, stalking is not a one-time act but rather a course of conduct. Stalking can involve a combination of criminal acts and acts that, in isolation, would seem nonthreatening. It is the pattern and context of the acts that constitute stalking.

To help clarify, we scanned the web and traded notes with our most relevant and credible sources. In doing so, we came up with the following list of stalking behaviors starting with the most obvious and extreme acts:

  • Physically assaulting the victim
  • Threatening the victim
  • Sexually assaulting the victim
  • Vandalizing the victim’s property
  • Burglarizing the victim’s home or stealing from the victim
  • Violating protective orders
  • Killing the victim’s pet(s). Seriously. This one came up on multiple sources!

It’s important to remember that stalking can be perpetuated by strangers, acquaintances, coworkers, or those involved (or previously involved) in a consensual relationship. Some behavior that may be considered acceptable in a consensual, loving relationship can become stalking when one person wants to end the relationship and the other doesn’t. If the recipient considers these acts unwelcome and unwanted then they can be considered stalking:

  • Sending the victim cards or gifts
  • Sending the victim photographs taken of him or her without consent
  • Leaving messages for the victim on voice mail, text, Facebook, snaps, email, etc.
  • Disclosing to the victim personal information the offender has uncovered about him/her
  • Spreading rumors about or disseminating personal information about the victim
  • Following the victim from place to place
  • Visiting the victim at work or school
  • Waiting outside or watching the victim’s home, work, gym or school
  • Monitoring the victim’s internet history, social media activity and computer usage
  • Using technology to gather images of or information about the victim

Stalking is further defined by the impact it has on the person being stalked, not by the intent of the stalker.  If you are the recipient of a combination of any of the behaviors listed above (either on or offline) you may be dealing with a stalking situation. If you fear that you are, we recommend reporting the activity to your local law enforcement.  Even if there is no action to be taken at an early stage, having the complaint documented may prove valuable if things escalate later on.

Please check back for our part-three post. We’ll be discussing the different types of stalkers and how they may relate to their victims.

 

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What’s the Deal with Stalking?

January is National Stalking Awareness Month in the US and we have a thing or two to say about it. Stalking is a widespread criminal behavior with the majority of its victims being women, we think we owe it to ya’ll to give this topic some serious air time.  That means we’re rolling out a three-part series on stalking.  Here goes…

Part One: 

What’s the Deal with Stalking?

Stalking involves a pattern of overtly criminal and/or apparently innocent behavior that makes victims fear for their safety and/or the safety of others.  Stalking behavior includes persistent contact (physical, visual, email, verbal, text or physical proximity) with a person who does not consent to the contact. Like domestic violence, stalking it is a crime of power and control.

It has been estimated that more than one million women and nearly half a million men are stalked in the US each year. The overwhelming majority of victims are women, and the majority of offenders are men.  Most victims know their stalkers and, unfortunately, new technologies continue to make it easier for stalkers to track their victims.

Nearly 60% of female victims are stalked by current or former intimate partners. In intimate-partner stalking cases, fewer than half of incidents occur after the relationship ends.  Most of the time, the stalking occurs during the relationship.

In the scope of our research the scariest thing about stalking is that in over 75% of completed and attempted (female) homicides by intimate partners, the offenders stalked their victims in the year before they became violent, yet less than 10% of stalking victims reported fearing death. What these numbers suggest is that victims level of fear for their lives is typically far lower than it ought to be.  Stalking should be recognized as a precursor to more violent acts. Just FYI, the two most common fears cited by victims are:

  • not knowing what will happen next
  • being afraid that the behavior will never stop

What is equally bothersome is that it’s believed that only half of stalking victims report the stalking incidents to the police. Generally speaking, those who do not report the stalking, either don’t realize the activity is criminal; they don’t think the police can help them; or they fear that reporting to police will make the stalker even more dangerous. So, if you’re reading this post and realizing that you may be being stalked, call your local police and make a report!  On the flip side, if you’re reading this post and realizing that you’re guilty of stalking someone, stop it. Immediately.

For more on related legislation in North America…

Canada:  In Canada stalking is defined as Criminal Harassment in section 264 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

USA: In the US stalking laws vary from state to state.  States statutes can be found on the National Center for Victims of Crime’s Stalking Resource Center website.

 

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