Stalking is defined as the willful, malicious, and repeated following and harassing of another person that creates fear, sadness, anxiety and threatens the safety of the other person. Someone may stalk you by following, calling, texting, sending messages over social media, showing up at your place of work, home, or repeatedly showing up at places you are known to go. A person’s behavior is considered stalking if it creates fear or you have made requests from the other person to refrain from contacting or following you. specifically, after a request has been made that they refrain from contacting you. Stalkers may also use technology to stalk you by sending unwanted emails, social media messages, or creating posts intended to scare or humiliate you.
The phenomenon of obsessional following occurs on a continuum of behavior from normal pursuit and attachment, to what most mental health professionals’ term relational intrusions, to stalking. Unfortunately, stalking situations are often aggravated prior to victim reporting or police involvement because the victim often does not recognize what is happening until after they have inadvertently reinforced the behavior. Many victims in their attempt to avoid hurt feelings, being perceived as heartless, or lacking compassion will utilize passive terms when conveying their feelings of lack of interest, no longer being interested, or not wanting any further contact with their stalker. Victims may attempt strategies to manage the behavior that could work with “normal” people, attempting to let the stalker down easily by not giving a clear “no,” or misconstruing the attention as “innocent infatuation”. In many scenarios, the stalking begins as a relationship is ending — a divorce or breakup.
Although, celebrity stalking makes the news, far more frequently it’s those living normal lives — women and men — who are stalked by someone they know, typically a former partner or someone they’re involved with. Stalkers will also stalk someone they have only met briefly — someone they don’t really know, or barely know. Person’s that stalk celebrities will usually do so after viewing them on television, in a movie, a book signing, or other public forum. It is also not uncommon for a stalker to focus on a celebrity that they have never seen in person, e.g. in a public forum.
Signs You Should be Concerned About Someone’s Behavior Include:
• Repeated calls/messages after your initial meeting
• The individual begins to “show up” in places you tend to frequent
• The person becomes easily angered whenever you turn down their request to spend time together
• The individual begins “future planning” although you barely know him/her
Unfortunately, some stalkers can develop an obsession for another person with whom they have no personal relationship or have never met. When the victim does not respond in the manner the stalker hopes, the stalker may attempt to force the victim to comply with the use of threats, fear, and intimidation.
Techniques Used by A Stalker to Force Compliance Include:
• Following the person around
• Showing up uninvited to the victim’s home, place of work, school, social gatherings etc.
• Sending you unwanted emails or letters
• Repeatedly calling you, leaving voice messages
• Leaving unsolicited or unwanted gifts
• Sending unwanted, frightening, or obscene emails, text messages, or instant messages
• Using GPS and other surveillance devices to track your movement
• Damaging your personal property
• Threatening you on social media
• Continually driving by your home, school, place of employment, etc.
• Go through your garbage
• Contact friends, family, and people the victim works with to get information.
• Spread malicious rumors about the victim on social media
• Physically attack the victim
• Ignore restraining orders
• Purposely frighten and intimidate their victim
• Threaten to harm the friends or loved ones of the victim
Unfortunately, there is no single psychological or behavioral profile for stalkers. Like everything else in life each stalker is different. This makes it virtually impossible to devise a single effective strategy that can be applied to every situation. It is vital that stalking victims immediately seek the advice of local victim specialists who can work with them to devise a safety plan for their unique situation and circumstances. Individuals being stalked are encouraged to take all threats seriously, never underestimate a threat. All threats should be reported to a local police department by filing a report. If you feel you are being stalked, tell everyone you. Notification should include family, friends, co-workers, your employer/HR.