Typically, victims of strangers who are stalking them don't end up in shelters. That is the good news. The bad news, is that stalking is so prevalent that about one in three women between the ages of 18 and 30 will experience intimidation, fear, and anxiety because a stalker has selected them as a target.
Stalkers are a bit unique because their aim is not necessarily to create or maintain an intimate relationship - often their purpose is to be rejected and then to exact punishment, revenge, and retribution on their victims. Sometimes this punishment can lead to serious injury or death, and that is why it is important to take stalking seriously, and to not discount this behavior as normal or harmless.
Quick side note: This article explains the fourth type, the Stalking Type. For information about the other types click one of the links in the list given below. Being prepared to encounter and better respond to abusers will help prevent you and your loved ones from suffering a lifetime of suffering and torment.
For reference, here are the 5 Abuse Types:
- The Cycle of Violence Type
- The Controlling Type
- The Sadistic Type
- The Stalking Type (when not in a formal relationship)
- The Codependent Type
Stalking will usually take the form of annoying, threatening or obscene phone calls, texts, on-line postings, or letters, and hang-ups on the phone. The phone calls and texts may start with one or two an hour but can quickly escalate to several dozen an hour. Stalkers will often conduct surveillance of the victim, following every move the target makes. The victim's home, friends, workplace, and places the visit regularly (the gym, stores, the mall, etc.) may all be staked-out by this type of abuser. Stalkers often tell the victim they are being watched in order to get them anxious and angry.
Just for clarification, the Stalking Type is a description I use for those who are not currently in a formal relationship with the victim. When stalking is part of a formal relationship with the victim the stalking behavior is more typically a smaller component of controlling or sadistic patterns. What I mean by the Stalking Type applies to those who may have already broken up with the victim, who admire but don't really know the victim very well and hope to create a relationship, or who are attached to a perceived special element, i.e. fame, wealth, profound beauty, etc. but have had no direct contact with the victim.
My research and some national surveys estimate that 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men in the US have experience stalking in their lifetimes. Also, approximately 1 in 4 stalking victims reported some form of cyber-stalking such as email or instant messaging. Almost 50% of stalking victims felt fear of not knowing what would happen next, and 3 in 10 victims reported being psychologically or emotionally injured from the stalking behavior.
The State of Utah defines stalking as when a person commits two or more of the following actions:
- they follow, monitor, observe, photograph, surveil, threaten, or communicate to or about a person, or interfere with their property.
- they approach or confront a person
- they appear at the person's workplace or they contact the person's employer or coworkers
- they appear at a person's residence or they contact a person's neighbors, or they enter property owned, leased, or occupied by a person
- they send material by any means to the person or for the purpose of obtaining or disseminating information about or communicating with the person to a member of the person's family or household, employer, coworker, friend, or associate of the person
- they place an object on or they deliver an object to property owned, leased, or occupied by a person, or to the person's place of employment with the intent that the object be delivered to the person
- they use a computer, the Internet, text messaging, or any other electronic means to commit an act that is a part of the course of conduct
The Federal Bureau of Investigations has categorized stalkers into four distinctive stalker profiles. These types of stalking categories are somewhat related to a person’s personality profile.
- The Simple Obsessional. This profile involves interpersonal relationships (i.e. ex-boyfriend, ex-husband/wife, co-workers, neighbors, etc.).
- The Love Obsessional. Often in these situations, there is not any relationship between the stalker and victim (i.e. fan/celebrity, unknown apartment tenant, unknown admirer at work).
- Erotomania. This type of stalker believes he/she is loved by another. Cases can develop between fan and celebrity, or in more ordinary settings such as co-workers.
- False Victimization. The stalker feels like the victim and postures themselves as a victim of stalking.
A different view, as presented in A Study of Stalkers, identified five types of stalkers:
- Rejected stalkers pursue their victims in order to reverse, correct, or avenge a rejection (e.g. divorce, separation, termination).
- Resentful stalkers pursue a vendetta because of a sense of grievance against the victims – motivated mainly by the desire to frighten and distress the victim.
- Intimacy seekers seek to establish an intimate, loving relationship with their victim. To many of them, the victim is a long-sought-after soul mate, and they are "meant" to be together.
- Incompetent suitors, despite poor social or courting skills, have a fixation, or in some cases, a sense of entitlement to an intimate relationship with those who have attracted their interest. Their victims are most often already in a dating relationship with someone else.
- Predatory stalkers spy on the victim in order to prepare and plan an attack – often sexual – on the victim.
With developing brains, hormonal changes, disorders, syndromes, and complexes sprinkled throughout humankind, it is small wonder that we need laws, rules, enforcement, the judicial system, corrections, and social service agencies to promote a civilized world. But behavior cannot be legislated. It takes great care and effort to keep yourself and those you care about out of harm's way. In fact, it is impossible (and not desirable) to shelter people so extremely that nothing bad ever happens to them. However, learning the warning signs and measures to keep them safe from truly predatory and damaging people and behavior is of the highest importance.
Abuse is a disease, passed from one generation to the next. One of the biggest problems in fighting abuse in our culture and among our friends and family is to recognize that many common actions we see are part of a larger picture, part of a pattern of abuse that begins to emerge if we know what to look for and how to look for it.
Literally everyone can benefit from a better understanding of abuse, please share this article. There is always a first action to helping someone you care about. Let this be it!