Typologies of Stalkers:
There are three main types of stalkers: Erotomaniacs, Love Obsessional Stalkers, and Simple Obsessional Stalkers (also known as Ex Intimate Partner Stalkers). What they have in common is an unhealthy fixation on their targeted victims. What separates them is their motivation in pursuing those victims.
Some commonalities to watch for in stalkers are as follows:
They often abuse alcohol and/or drugs
They generally have a low self-esteem coupled with an obsessive personality
They have had few personal relationships
They have a desire for power and control over their victims
They will most likely deny that they have a problem, or that they are doing anything wrong, and will try to minimize the reactions their victims have to their behavior
They will rationalize their behavior by blaming their victims, or anyone else who tries to intervene
They will often reject arguments by their victims, or others, to cease their stalking behaviors and seek psychological help from a medical professional
The differences between the three main stalking typologies are as follows:
Erotomaniacs are the most well known type of stalkers, as their targets are generally public figures or celebrities, and, consequently, the media often profiles their cases. In actuality, this type of stalker is the least common of the three typologies and, historically, the least dangerous.
Erotomaniacs are delusional, most of them suffering from some sort of mental disorder such as schizophrenia. They stalk because they believe they have a relationship with their target, even if they’ve never personally met him/her.
A prime example of this type of stalker is Margaret R. Ray – the woman who pursued the popular late night talk show host, David Letterman, with the belief that she was his wife, and their love was mutual.
Love Obsessional Stalking
Love Obsessional stalkers are similar to Erotomaniacs in that their victims can be complete strangers to them; however, these stalkers sometimes also target casual aquaintances such as coworkers or neighbors.
Unlike the Erotomaniac, they do not have the delusion that a relationship already exists, and most suffer from a personality disorder rather than a mental illness. They are motivated to stalk in an attempt to establish a more personal relationship with their object of affection. They may go so far as to invent detailed fantasies of the relationship they want with that victim (such as, creating scrapbooks filled with pictures of themselves and the victim); and, if they cannot have a positive relationship with their target, they will often settle for a negative relationship instead.
One of the most notorious Love Obsessional stalkers is Mark David Chapman – the man who claimed to be John Lennon’s biggest fan, but then shot him to death outside his home. Chapman was so desperate to have any kind of relationship/association with Lennon that when his affection was not reciprocated, he settled for violence instead. In a very tragic sense, he got his wish: he will forever be associated with Lennon.
Another case of Love Obsessional Stalking that actually precipitated the creation of anti-stalking legislation in 1993 was the Laura Black case. Laura Black was an average, everyday person being romantically pursued by one of her male coworkers. When she did not reciprocate his advances, and he subsequently lost his job due to his repeated harassment of her, he responded by returning to the workplace in a murderous rage. This resulted in Laura’s death, and the death of several of her coworkers, before he finally turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.
(a reader wrote and said:
LAURA IS NOT DEAD. HER STALKER IS NOT DEAD. HE IS ON DEATH ROW.)
Simple Obsessional (sometimes referred to as Ex-Intimate Partner) Stalking
Police regard Simple Obsessional stalkers as the most common and potentially dangerous of all the typologies. They account for more than 60% of all reported stalking cases, and arise from the end of a consensual relationship between a husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, or other domestic partner.
These stalkers are highly disturbed due to the loss of their partner, and pursue that person in an attempt to continue controlling him/her after the relationship has ended. In many of these cases, there was a history of domestic abuse – emotional, verbal, and/or physical abuse – in the relationship, making the potential for violence even greater. The “If I can’t have you, then no one can!” attitude is a common – and dangerous – trait in this type of stalker. What might have begun as an attempt to reconcile with his/her estranged partner can ultimately result in a murder/suicide.
What To Do If You Are Being Stalked:
Say no ONCE then do not have any further personal contact with the person pursuing you. Do not reply to any future phone calls, not even to tell him/her, “Leave me alone!” If you do, chances are the only thing that person will understand is that it takes “x” number of phone calls to get you to answer, and he/she will continue pursuit in full force with the hopes you will respond again.
The reality is that, in most cases, a victim of stalking will not be able to correct the situation on his/her own. Very few stalkers desist from pursuing their targets until after law enforcement officials have intervened. Therefore, below is a list of precautions you can take to better your chances of getting the help you need:
Do everything you can to avoid all contact with your stalker
Inform those close to you (family, friends, coworkers) about what is going on
Obtain a restraining order or peace bond
Make sure you have quick access to critical telephone numbers and transportation
Arrange a safe alternative place to go if needed
Keep your doors locked at all times (house and vehicle)
Park your vehicle in well-lit areas, and do not go out to the parking lot alone
Change your routine (such as traveling a different route to work each day) in order to avoid any activities that may be predictable to your stalker
Report all incidents of stalking to your local police
As the police require evidence in order to charge an offender with stalking, be diligent in keeping all physical evidence you have received (such as letters, gifts, voice mails, and emails), and keep a written log of the intangibles (such as dates, times, and locations where you saw your stalker following or watching you, and the names/numbers of other witnesses)
The most important thing you can do to help yourself, or your loved ones, in stalking situations is to be informed, and make sure that those around you are also informed. You do not have control over a stalker’s behaviour, and it is nearly impossible to predict who may become a target of stalking. But if you know the symptoms to watch for, and are aware of the law, then your chances of resolving the issue early on will be that much greater.
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Kim S. is a published author, award-winning speaker, and creator/presenter of The Awareness Series speaking series. Her mission is to deal head-on with stigmatized social issues such as workplace harassment, domestic abuse, depression, and single parenting. Each of these presentations is a must-see, delivered from the most alluring viewpoint there is: that of the survivor.