Center for Women and Families

Stalkingstalking

Definition – Intentionally on knowingly and repeatedly (more than one incident) engages in 1) Visual or Physical proximity 2) Verbal or written threats 3) Implied threats by conduct

A copy of our Stalking Awareness Booklet

Types of Stalking:

  • Simple Obsessional- A prior relationship exists between the victim and the stalker which includes the following:
    • Acquaintance, neighbor, customer, professional relationship, dating, and lover
    • The stalking behavior begins after either:
    • The relationship has gone “sour”, or
    • The offending individual perceives some mistreatment
    • The stalker begins a campaign either to rectify the schism, or to seek some type of retribution
  • Erotomania:
    • The central theme of the delusion is that another person is in love with the individual
    • The delusion often concerns idealized romantic love and spiritual union rather than sexual attraction — “a perfect match”
    • The object of affection is usually of a higher status and can be a complete stranger
    • Efforts to contact the victim are common, but the stalker may keep the delusion a secret
    • Males, seen most often in forensic samples, come into contact with the law during misguided pursuits to “rescue” the individual from some imagined danger. Females are seen most often in clinical samples
  • Love Obsessional- Similar to the erotomanic individuals:
    • The victim is almost always known through the media.
    • The delusion that the victim loves them may also be held
    • The erotomanic delusion is but one of several delusions and psychiatric symptoms — this individual has a primary psychiatric diagnosis
    • These individuals may be obsessed in their love, without having the belief that the target is in love with them
    • A campaign is begun to make his/her existence known to the victim (http://www.stalkingbehavior.com/definiti.htm)

There are several signs that are good indicators of stalking behavior. It is also important to consider the intensity of such behaviors.

  1. Persistent phone calls despite being told not to contact in any form.
  2. Waiting at workplace or in neighborhood.
  3. Threats
  4. Manipulative behavior (for example: threatening to commit suicide in order to get a response to such an "emergency" in the form of contact).
  5. Sending written messages: letters, emails, graffiti...
  6. Sending gifts from the seemingly "romantic" (flowers and/or candy) to the bizarre (dog teeth, a bed pan, a blood soaked feather).
  7. Defamation: The stalker often lies to others about the victim (claims of infidelity, for example).
  8. "Objectification": The stalker derogates the victim, reducing him/her to an object -- this allows the stalker the ability to feel angry with the victim without experiencing empathy.

What Can You Do If You Are Being Stalked?

There are no easy answers to this question. First and foremost, you should always think about your safety. Here are some other things to consider:

  • Report the stalking to your local law enforcement agency. While officers may not have enough evidence to arrest the stalker, it is important to develop this “official” record of the stalking behavior. If a law enforcement report is made, the information may become public.
  • Some stalkers believe there are hidden messages within conversations they have with their victims that encourage them to continue the stalking. Some experts suggest that if your stalker is a former intimate partner or someone who believes you want to be in a relationship, you must be clear and firm early on about wanting to end the relationship. The longer the relationship goes on, the harder it is for the stalker to get the message that you are not interested.
  • If the stalking has continued for a long time, some believe it is best for the victim to cease all communication with the stalker. Instead, let the “system” communicate with him through a law enforcement officer, probation officer, or through a protection order.
  • A protection from stalking order may or may not be effective in ending the stalking. These orders may be most effective if issued when the stalking behavior first begins. They also appear to be most effective in communities where violations of the order are taken very seriously by law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges. If these situations do not apply to you, you may want to consider whether a protection order will help or hurt your situation. Call your local domestic violence/sexual assault programs in your state/county for further information and for a brochure explaining how to get a protection from stalking order.
  • In some situations, further contact between the victim and the stalker, tends to encourage the stalker. Therefore, if you can, try to avoid the following:
    - mediation
    - joint therapy
    - shared custody
    - face-to-face child exchanges
    - protection orders (which will require a face-to-face hearing)
  • Keep a log of all stalking behaviors, including the following (see Incident Log below):
    - date of incident
    - times and places the incidents occurred
    - description of stalking behavior
    - witnesses to the incident
  • If you believe you may be in imminent danger, develop a safety plan, taking into consideration the following:
    - critical phone numbers, such as law enforcement, friends, domestic violence or sexual assault programs
    - critical phone numbers and contact information for other important people or services you may need after reaching a safe location, such as neighbors, attorneys, prosecutors, medical care, child care, or pet care
    - keep a reserve of necessities in case you have to leave your home quickly, such as a suitcase in the trunk of your car or at a friend’s house; include money, medication, toys or items important to the children
    - consider having important documents such as passports, immigration documents, birth certificates, and social security numbers readily accessible
    - alert people who may be part of your safety plan, such as law enforcement, employers, family, friends, neighbors, or security personnel
  • Consider whether any of the following measures would help decrease or prevent some of the dangers connected to stalking:
    - installing solid core doors with dead bolts
    - changing locks, securing all spare keys
    - installing outside lighting
    - trimming bushes and vegetation around your residence
    - identifying locations that may be safe for you, such as police stations, residences of family/friends, local churches, or other public places
    - getting an unlisted number or, if you have financial means, using a “dummy” answering machine connected to your published phone line. The private or unlisted number can be reserved for close friends or family and the stalker may not realize you have another line
    - varying travel routes and other routines
    - limiting time walking or jogging alone
    - informing a trusted neighbor about the situation and, if possible, giving them a description or a photo of the stalker, asking them to call law enforcement if they see anything unusual
  • Sexual assault and domestic violence programs may be able to provide you with additional help and information. The Stalking Resource Center can also provide you with information on stalking. (http://annyjacoby.wordpress.com/2010/01/)

Links

National Center for Victims of Crime
Stalking Awareness Month
National Institute of Justice- Stalking
That's Not Cool

Safety Alert

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