What is Stalking?
Characteristics of a Stalker…
- Waiting at the victim’s workplace, home or neighborhood
- Persistent phone calls, text messages, emails, letters or notes
- The sending of gifts – from the seemingly “romantic” (i.e. flowers and/or chocolates) to the bizarre
- Breaking into the victim’s home or car
- Gathering information on the victim: contacting people who know the victim; searching public or personal records, even the dustbin, for information.
- Surveillance: persistently watching the individual, using cameras, audio equipment, phone tapping, or bugging the victim’s home or workplace
- Manipulative behaviour : threatening to commit suicide in order to coerce the victim to intervene– forcing contact with the stalker)
- Defamation of character: the stalker will lie to others about the victim, trying to limit their options and weaken their support network. In an attempt to isolate the victim, making them appear more vulnerable, and giving the stalker a sense of power and control.
- “Objectification”: the stalker derogates the victim, thus reducing them to an object which allows the stalker to feel angry with them without experiencing empathy. It helps the stalker feel they are entitled to behave as they please toward the victim. Viewing her/him as “lesser,” “weak” or
otherwise seriously flawed can support delusions that the victim needs to be rescued, or punished, by the stalker.
- Threats and violence: the stalker uses threats to frighten the victim; vandalism and property damage (usually to the victim’s car); physical attacks that leave abrasions and bruises (mostly meant to frighten); less common–physical attacks that leave serious physical injuries, or sexual assaults.
- Cyberstalking: using the internet to pursue, harass or contact another in an unsolicited fashion.
- During a 12-month period, an estimated 14 in every 1,000 persons age 18 or older were victims of stalking.
- About half (46%) of stalking victims experienced at least one unwanted contact per week, and 11% of victims said they had been stalked for 5 years or more.
- The risk of stalking victimization was highest for individuals who were divorced or separated—34 per 1,000 individuals.
- Women were at greater risk than men for stalking.
- About 43% of victims stated that police were contacted at least once regarding the stalking.
- Male (37%) and female (41%) stalking victimizations were equally likely to be reported to the police.
- Approximately 1 in 4 stalking victims reported some form of cyberstalking such as e-mail (83%)or instant messaging (35%). Electronic monitoring was used to stalk 1 in 13 victims (i.e. GPS monitoring, bugs, phone tapping, video).
- 46% of stalking victims felt a fear of not knowing what would happen next.
- Nearly 3 in 4 stalking victims knew their offender in some capacity.
- Often Stalking isn’t taken seriously
Profile of a stalker
Stalking is a crime of power and control. Stalkers tend to obsess about their victim. They may make many plans for the future that involve their victim.
- Stalkers tend to have very weak social skills, and see nothing wrong with their behaviour.
- Few stalkers see how their actions are hurting others, and they do not believe society’s rules apply to them.
- They don’t believe they are threatening, intimidating, or even stalking someone.
- Most stalkers see their actions simply as attempts to get closer to their target, help them, or to gain their love
- Stalkers often ‘research’ their victims via public records for information or manipulating the victims’ family and friends.
- Stalkers often obtain information from the victim’s friends, their workplace and from the victim’s family.
- Romantically obsessed stalkers refuse to believe the victim does not want a relationship with them.
- Stalking can be a form of retaliation because of some perceived slight. Indeed, many sexual harassment victims report being stalked in retaliation for reporting their harassers.
- A stalker may be so subtle that the victim may not even aware that it is happening.
- It is not always just the initial victim who is stalked. A stalker may also harass family, friends and fellow workers.