Half the population are bullied ... most only recognize it when they read this
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Background | Stalker types
Warning signs of stalking
Internet stalking | Internet stalker profile
Reading on stalking behaviour
Links to stalking websites
Background to stalking and cyberstalking
A study of 50 stalkers by the Royal Free Hospital and University College Medical School, London, found that women are much more likely to be stalked and attacked by a former sexual partner than by a stranger. After the Anti-Stalking Police Unit was introduced in 2000, stalking became Britain's fastest growing crime with over 4000 prosecutions. The UK's Crown Prosecution Service has a section defining the illegality of stalking and harassment.
US crime statistics show that 1 in 12 women will be stalked in their lifetime, as will 1 in 45 men. At any one time, approximately 1 million women and around 375,000 men are the target of stalking in America. Los Angeles, home of Hollywood, is the stalking capital of the world. But it's not just famous people who get stalked. The majority of stalking cases involve ordinary people.
Stalking is a genuine and dangerous form of psychological abuse that can also be physical. It has absolutely nothing in common with a conspiracy theory known as "Gang Stalking" (to which believers also refer as "Community Mobbing", "Community Stalking", "Stalking by Proxy", "Organized Stalking", "Cause Stalking", "Multi-Stalking"). One of the hallmarks of "Gang Stalking" is that all the self-defined "Targeted Individuals" who claim to describe the phenomenon are are unable to produce any objective evidence of it. If you wish to know about stalking, stay on this page. If you want to read about "gang stalking", click here.
The stalker exhibits a familiar pattern of behaviour. Stalking often starts as a result of rejection; rejection rage and abandonment rage motivate the stalker to seek revenge through a predictable pattern of stalking behavior. The stalker, usually a loner and socially inept, becomes obsessed with their target and bombards them with messages, emails, gifts, or abuse. The stalking behaviour can last for years and the intensity of abuse increases over time. The abuse, initially consisting of psychological violence, often escalates and culminates in physical violence. It's a chilling statistic which reveals that 90% of women who are murdered were stalked by their ex-partner.
In response to the growing incidence of stalking, the UK government passed the Protection From Harassment Act in 1997. The Act has both criminal and civil provisions to deal with stalkers and stalking behaviour.
In August 2000 and in a manner similar to the sexual offenders register, the UK government has suggested that a register of convicted stalkers might be appropriate for the most serious cases. In 1998 there were 5800 convictions for stalking in the UK. "Harassment can have a devastating effect on people's lives. It is something that must be tackled" comments Home Office minister Charles Clarke. Diana Lamplugh of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust welcomed the guide. "Victims [of stalking] will come forward much quicker." she says. "At the moment they are made to feel stupid and they wonder if it's their fault."
Tim Field believed that the serial bully in the workplace often exhibits many of the characteristics of stalking, especially in the later phase of the bullying cycle. The target is bombarded with memos, emails, yellow stickies, and if off sick with stress caused by the bullying, may receive harassing phone calls at home. Family members often receive harassing phone calls also.
A largely-unrecognized effect of stalking is psychiatric injury. See the page on stress for details of injury to health caused by bullying, harassment, and stalking.
Bully OnLine is a gold mine of insight and information on bullying which identifies the different types of harassment and bullying, and exposes the main perpetrator, the serial bully. Everyone, whether stalked or not, knows at least one person in their life with the profile of the serial bully. Click here ...who has this behaviour profile in your life?
Have a look through this web site to recognise the stalkers, bullies and bullying in your life ... start with Am I being bullied? then move on to What is bullying? To find out what you can do about bullying, click Action to tackle bullying. Have a look at the profile of the serial bully which is common to sociopathic managers, harassers, stalkers, rapists, violent partners, abusers, pedophiles, even serial killers of the organized kind.
If bullying and harassment have caused injury to your health, commonly diagnosed as "stress", see the page on injury to health and the one on the psychiatric injury of trauma, a collection of symptoms congruent with the diagnostic criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
The Internet offers new opportunities for stalking, hence the term cyber stalking. The cyberstalker can, from the safety of his or her home, or the anonymity of an office environment, trace, track and find out personal details of the target, including address, phone number, and more sinisterly, addresses and details of the target's family. The Internet also offers unlimited opportunity to befriend lonely, vulnerable and nice people who can be persuaded to start a relationship. Most people do not recognise the symptoms of stalking and the techniques a stalker employs to target them.
Internet stalker profile (and any stalker, especially a male)
If you've been wooed by a cyberstalker, this profile will bring you back to reality:
lives in a 1-room apartment which hasn't been cleaned for months - if ever
has stacks of pornographic magazines in his bedroom area
has poor personal hygiene
has poor table manners
has poor social etiquette
hasn't changed the sheets on his bed for months, which are now best described as crusty
has a bathroom, the state of which doesn't bear thinking about
lives on pizza and beer/coke, the remnants of which litter his apartment
may have an unusual pet (eg ferret) which has free run of the apartment
is either significantly over- or under-weight
has a small moustache or other facial hair
has not held down any job for more than a couple of years, probably less
has no friends
has no life outside the Internet
The Internet stalker probably has other unpleasant characteristics that sexual harassers possess, and the usual sexual inadequacy including lack of intimacy, controlling behaviour, no concept of the partner's needs, premature ejaculation, and an abnormal belief bordering on obsession in his smallness.
If you've been the target of cyberstalking you'll find my page on cyberbullying interesting.
Intimate partner: this stalker, the most common type, is a partner or more usually an ex-partner who can't and wont accept that a relationship has come to an end. They can't let go.
Vengeful stalker: this is the most dangerous type whose mission is to get even and/or take revenge. Mostly male, he has a grudge and he's going to do something about it. The vengeful stalker may never have met his victim, who may be a politician, council official, boss, organisation, etc.
Delusional stalker: this one has a history of mental illness which may include schizophrenia or manic depression. The schizophrenic stalker may have stopped taking his or her medication and now lives in a fantasy world composed of part reality and part delusion which he or she is unable to differentiate. If they're not careful, targets of the delusional stalker are likely to be sucked in to this fantasy world and start to have doubts about their own sanity, especially if the stalker is intelligent, and intermittently and seamlessly lucid and "normal". Ironically, one typical manifestation of paranoid delusions involves the sufferer believing that they are being "gangstalked" by everyone from family and friends to complete strangers, with hundreds of imagined perpetrators being organised by secret government forces. The delusion is reinforced by websites assuring them that it is all real. Some sufferers attempt to expose those they presume to be "perpetrators" of this imagined harassment, by following them around, filming them and challenging them.
Erotomaniac: this stalker is also delusional and mentally ill and believes he or she is in love with you and will have created an entire relationship in their head.
Harasser stalker: some stalker types like to be the centre of attention and may have an attention-seeking personality disorder; they may not be stalkers in the strict sense of the word but repeatedly pester anyone (especially anyone who is kind, vulnerable or inexperienced) who might be persuaded to pay them attention. If they exhibit symptoms of Munchausen Syndrome they may select a victim who they stalk by fabricating claims of harassment by this person against themselves. Click here for more on attention-seeker personality types.
Cyberstalkers and love rats: again, these may not be stalkers in the strict sense of the word but they have many similar characteristics. Cyber stalkers and love rats surf the web with the intention of starting relationships and may have several simultaneous relationships. The targets of a cyber stalker may know little about the person they are talking to (other than what they've convincingly been fed) and be unaware of a trail of other targets past and present. [BBC News Online item]
Troll. The Troll's purpose is to be given more credibility than (s)he deserves, and to suck people into useless, pointless, never-ending, emotionally-draining, ranting discussions full of verbal loops and "word labyrinths", playing people against each other, hurting their feelings, and wasting their time and emotional energy. [More on Trolls]
It's common for stalkers to exhibit characteristics of more than one of these stalking types.
These are the signs to be alert to:
expects you to spend all of your time with him/her or inform him/her of your whereabouts
refuses to accept "no" for an answer
isolates you from your friends and/or family
puts you down in front of your family or friends
sends frequent unsolicited or unwelcome gifts
makes offers of unsolicited help
excessive niceness in the early stages
use of guilt to manipulate your feelings or to force you into courses of action you feel unhappy with
frequent loss of temper
abuse of alcohol and/or drugs
following you wherever you go
physical or verbal abuse
damage or destruction to your property
talks about violence or is fascinated with themes of violence
makes your family or friends feel scared or uneasy
The gift of fear: survival signals that protect us from violence by Gavin de Becker, Bloomsbury, 1997, ISBN 0747536910. Gavin de Becker tells you how to identify dangerous people before they hurt you, and provides information on stalking, threat assessment, as well as how to terminate a troublesome employee whilst reducing the probability of physical violence.
I Know You Really Love Me: A Psychiatrist’s Journal of Erotomania, Stalking and Obsessive Love by psychiatrist and stalking expert, Doreen Orion, MD.
Links to web sites on stalking
The Stalking Victim's Sanctuary provides insight and information on stalking as well as support and guidance.
Identifying and dealing with cyberbullying.
A comprehensive introduction and guide to cyberstalking
The Australian Anti-Stalking Web Site
The Multiple Stalker (Vigilante/Harassment Group) Information and Support Site
The Network for Surviving Stalking (NSS)
Beware the sociopath: no heart, no conscience, no remorse: how to spot a sociopathic love fraud con artist
The Obsessive Ex Syndrome - people who are unable to mentally "let go" of a partner who leaves them
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