Most victims don’t immediately think “I have a stalker”.
It starts off much more subtly.
The victim may just think this person is acting a bit odd, then they find them annoying, being a nuisance; they don’t take hints or respond to a direct request for them to leave the victim alone.
Later, when the victim realises that this person is not going to stop bothering them, and that they have become obsessed, they become frightened.
Stalking is a serious crime. It’s the name we give to someone forcing you to have a relationship with them against your will. It leaves victims feeling helpless, paranoid, mistrustful, anxious, frustrated, angry, frightened and even suicidal. It affects their work, relationships and health.
The most serious stalking cases can lead to serious assault, rape or murder.
It leaves all victims devastated.
There are five types of stalkers
- Intimacy seekers want to create an intimate, loving relationship. They are delusional and believe the victim is a soul mate and that they were 'meant' to be together. They may have never met; for example the victim could be someone famous.
- Incompetent suitors are men with poor social or courting skills. They are fixated on someone. They sometimes have a sense of entitlement and believe they should be in a sexual relationship with the person they desire. The victims are usually not available, because either dating or married.
- 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.
- Predatory stalkers spy on the victim in order to prepare and plan an attack – often sexual – on the victim. They are often sadistic and can include serial rapists and paedophiles.
Most stalkers have personality disorders and are delusional. Have you tried to reason with an obsessive, delusional person? It is impossible. That is why resolving staking is so difficult. People get stalked for years, not just one or two years but 5, 10 years...
Stalkers will not only stalk the primary victim, but also those around the victim, in order to gather intelligence about the victim and disrupt those relationships. They will also use those relationships to intimidate or humiliate the victim. It usually works because friends and family don’t understand or can’t cope with the situation leaving the victim isolated and more traumatised.
Technology is increasing stalking
Stalking is increasing due to technology. The biggest percentage perpetrators of stalking are ex-partners. They account for approximately 60% of cases.
Breaking up is hard to do, but it is even more difficult in the post internet, social network and mobile phone world.
A study published in September 2012 in "Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking" found that “stalking” an ex on Facebook - or frequently checking his or her profile and friends list - is linked with "greater current distress over the breakup, more negative feelings, more sexual desire, more longing for the ex-partner, and lower personal growth."
Indeed, experts say Facebook can prolong post-breakup pain, while delaying emotional recovery.
There will be those broken-hearted people who go from checking up on their ex to becoming obsessed, especially if they didn’t want the relationship to end. They start off trying to win the person back and when that doesn’t work they become angry and revengeful.
We are also seeing an increase in stranger or acquaintance type staking or abuse.
Our digital presences mean that people you meet casually, or who read your Twitter, or is a friend of friend, can link to your online information.
Social networks offer a history about you – an insight into who you really are, your friends, likes, dislikes, sense of humour, and don’t forget all those pictures. You can get a feel for the person without having ever met them.
That is all some individuals need to decide they want a relationship with you.
Stalking is easy with modern technology
In the pre-internet/mobile days, it was just harder to stalk someone.
Mostly stalking meant sending letters, standing outside for hours at a time, or showing up at the person’s work, pub or grocery store. The stalker had to live close. It took dedication and time. The stalker didn’t get a lot of information, yes they knew where you were going but not how you were feeling, who you were talking to on the phone, what you were saying.
The internet has changed all of that.
Our digital lives give stalkers the opportunity to gather large amounts of information and insight into us. If they can access an email account, they can read our correspondence, find contacts, send out emails that can embarrass or alienate people.
Spyware is a popular tool - for £35 they can install spyware on a computer and see everything you do online, access passwords and turn on your webcam to watch and listen to you.
The amount of surveillance technology available online is astonishing. It is cheap, easy to find, easy to use.
The stalker can access it from their computer – no longer do they need to stand outside in the rain. Nope, to a stalker a bottle of wine and the internet is their night’s entertainment.
If you are being harassed or stalked you will find advice on how to protect yourself on www.digital-stalking.com