There is a way to predict the future of a relationship. There are many reliable indicators associated with spousal abuse and murder. If a situation has several of these signals, there is reason for concern. These MUST be taken and considered in context, because many people will have a few of these traits. Focus on the big picture.
Stalking behavior is often associated with the personality described above.
• Stalking is widespread, with nearly 1 in 12 women and 1 in 45 men are stalked at least once in their lifetime.
• Most victims know their stalkers, and most stalkers (87%) are male.
• Almost 60% of female victims and 30% of male victims are stalked by current or former intimate partners, with most of these cases occurring during the relationship.
• According to the National Center for Victims of Crime’s Stalking Resource Center, the average duration of stalking is 1.8 years.
• If stalking involves an intimate partner, the average duration increases to 2.2 years.
• 28% of female victims and 10% of male victims obtained a protective order; 69% of female victims and 81% of male victims had the order violated.
• 26% of stalking victims lost time from work, and 7% never returned to work.
• The prevalence of insomnia, social dysfunction, anxiety, and severe depression is much higher in stalking victims than in the general population, especially if the stalking involved being followed or property destruction.
• 76% of femicide (the act of killing a woman) victims had been stalked by the individual who killed them.
There are 5 Stalker Typologies
1. Rejected stalkers are motivated by a desire for reconciliation and/or revenge. Their stalking becomes a substitute for the lost relationship. Some derive satisfaction from inflicting pain. They often have personality disorders and are among the most persistent and intrusive stalkers.
2. Intimacy seekers identify the object of their affection as their true love. Some imagine that the person they are stalking reciprocates such feelings. Many “star-stalkers” fall into this category. Their sought-after partner’s indifference may enrage them. Many intimacy seekers have serious mental illnesses such as delusional disorders and need psychiatric intervention.
3. Incompetent suitors are those whose stalking is sustained by hopefulness. Their stalking of a particular person usually lasts only a short time, but these individuals, who often are intellectually limited and socially impaired, are unable or unwilling to appreciate the negative responses to their approaches, so they then may pursue others.
4. Resentful stalkers often are aggrieved workers who feel humiliated or treated unfairly. They may carry out a vendetta against a specific person or choose someone at random as representative of those they believe harmed them.
5. Predatory stalkers stalk someone as preparation for a physical or sexual assault and take pleasure in causing sadistic pain. Many have paraphilias (impulse control disorders that are characterized by recurrent and intense sexual fantasies, urges, and behaviors) and prior convictions for sexual offenses.
The creativity revealed by stalkers in their campaigns of intimidation and intrusion is remarkable. Stalking behaviors can take any of the following forms:
• Hyper-intimacy: the difference between an occasional phone call and dozens per day.
• Surveillance and pursuit: driving by the victim’s residence, checking up on the victim’s whereabouts, waiting at places the victim frequents
• Invasion: violating victim’s privacy
• Intimidation and harassment: attempts to harangue
• Proxy pursuit: gaining the willing or unwitting assistance of others in the stalking process
• Coercion: threats
Stalking is not a one-time event but a pattern of conduct that may involve criminal activities and/or seemingly non-threatening acts. Stalking often includes:
• Assaulting the victim
• Violating protective orders
• Sexually assaulting the victim
• Vandalizing the victim’s property
• Burglarizing the victim’s home or otherwise stealing from the victim
• Threatening the victim
• Killing the victim’s pet
• Sending cards or gifts
• Leaving phone and/or email messages
• Disclosing to the victim personal information the offender has uncovered about said victim
• Disseminating personal information about the victim
• Following the victim
• Visiting the victim at the victim’s workplace
• Waiting outside the victim’s home
• Sending the victim photographs taken of the victim without consent
• Monitoring the victim’s computer usage
• Using technology to gather images of or information about the victim
The core strategy with every stalking case is persistence. Persistence proves only persistence; it does not prove love.
Stalking is a crime of power, control, manipulation and intimidation. It is similar to an extended date rape in that it takes away freedom, honors the wishes of the man and disregards the wishes of the woman.
If you are the victim of an unwanted pursuit: do not negotiate. Once a woman has made the decision she does not want a relationship with a man, it needs to be said one time; explicitly. Almost any contact after that will be seen as negotiation. If a woman tells a man over and over she does not want to talk to him; that IS talking to him, and every time she does it, she betrays her resolve in the matter.
The more contact created between the two parties, even negative contact – police intervention, restraining order, visit to offender by friends or private investigator – the more the behavior will escalate; it creates more attachment.
The preferred approach is no contact at all. This forces the subject to find other solutions to his problem. With each contact, you buy another six weeks. As long as people try to change the subject or satisfy the subject, it just goes on. Put strategies in place that decreases the likelihood of unwanted encounters.
Most people who refuse to let go are highly predictable. Do not assume the subject will react like most people would. Violence requires interaction. If one party is not participating, it cannot happen.
Change your phone number, or better yet, add another line. Let the old number continue to collect the messages for a record on voice mail or an answering machine. Have another woman leave the greeting on the voice mail or machine (in case he is calling just to hear your voice). A male voice will often just cause the pursuer to investigate further. Give out the new number to those who need it and you want to have. Eventually, the pursuer will be the only one leaving messages on the old number. The real message the pursuer receives is that the woman avoids temptation to respond to his manipulations.
NO CONTACT is necessary because of the stalking dynamic axiom: men who cannot let go choose women who cannot say no. The pursuer may be so desperate for some type of contact that if he cannot be the boyfriend, he will settle for being a friend. If he cannot be a friend he will settle for being an enemy if that is the only position available. The way to stop contact is to stop contact.
Do not send the police or a private investigator to the pursuer, unless they are able to completely overwhelm him, i.e.; arrest with likely charge and long incarceration.
A very violent signal might be effective. This is not recommended but none the less successful. If the stakes are high enough, most pursuers will modify their behavior. Most people do not enjoy extreme physical pain. I have plenty of anecdotal evidence of this strategy being effective, although it is NOT legal……it is Assault.
Restraining orders work primarily with the naive pursuer who does not realize the inappropriateness of his behavior.
Read your state statutes for clarification as to how stalking is defined.
Note: if you suspect you are being stalked or harassed, speak with law enforcement officials, your county attorney or Assault Prevention Staff.
© 2009 Terry Hipp