Stalking is a pattern of behavior, directed at a specific individual, that causes fear or severe emotional distress. This pattern of intimidation and control can involve any of a wide range of behaviors, which serve as stalking warning signs.
Stalking Warning Signs
Behaviors that serve as stalking warning signs include, but are not limited to:
- Continuing to send unwanted communications, or leave gifts for someone after being asked not to
- Following someone in person, or tracking them using technology
- Hiring or recruiting someone to track or monitor the targeted individual
- Identity theft, impersonation
- Using mutual acquaintances as a source of information or research
- Invading someone’s privacy or stealing their personal belongings
- Reading someone’s emails, texts, or other communications without their knowledge or consent
- Showing up or waiting at someone’s home, workplace, or classes
- Spreading rumors intended to ruin someone’s reputation or call their character into question
- Threatening to hurt oneself in order to control another’s behavior
- Threatening the target, their loved ones, or their pets
- Trespassing on or damaging someone’s property
- Watching, monitoring, or spying on someone in person or through the use of technology
Some of the behaviors listed above are crimes on their own. Others are only criminal in conjunction with other behaviors. Because of this, it’s vital for victims to maintain a Stalking Incident and Behavior Log that documents every known incident, and keeps all evidence of communication.
“There’s a lesson in real-life stalking cases that [people] can benefit from learning: persistence only proves persistence—it does not prove love. The fact that a romantic pursuer is relentless doesn’t mean you are special—it means [they’re] troubled.”
Gavin de Becker
Types of Stalkers
Stalkers may be acquaintances, current or former intimate partners, or someone unknown to the target of the unwanted attention. Stalkers have been classified into types based on their relationship to the victim.
It is important to consider the relationship, because victims of stalking by a current or former intimate partner have a higher risk of being seriously assaulted or killed than other domestic violence victims.
Stalkers can also be classified based on the rationale for stalking or the stalkers intentions.
The article “Types of Stalking” outlines five types based on rationale:
- A Rejected Stalker is unable, or unwilling, to accept the end of a relationship. They either hope to resolve the conflict to “fix” the relationship, or they are seeking payback for the pain they feel has been wrongfully inflicted by their target.
- An Intimacy Seeker is lonely and desires a relationship. This type of stalker may have delusional beliefs about the person they are targeting.
- The Incompetent Suitor would like a date, relationship, or to be sexual intimate with thier target. They stalk because they are unaware of or indifferent to the victim’s distress, possibly as the result of an inability to understand and interpret social signals.
- Predatory Stalkers derive sexual gratification from the sense of power and control they feel while they are pursuing, harassing, and intimidating victims.
Stalking Warning Signs May Be More Subtle When Technology Is Involved
Depending on the medium through which unwanted communication is received, a victim may not know the identity of a stalker. Stalking behaviors that utilize technology and do not involve direct communication can go unnoticed and undetected for long periods of time.
- The overwhelming majority of those who experience stalking are stalked by someone they know
- More than 50% of stalking incidents involve current or former intimate partners
- 1 in 7 victims relocate their residence as a result of the victimization
- Most stalkers pursue their victims once a week or more
Again, concerns around this issue should be taken seriously, stalking warning signs should not be ignored.
Staking Precautions and Safety Measures
There are precautions and safety measures that can be implemented if you, or someone you know, fears they are the target of this type of behavior:
- Trust your instincts
- Report incidents to the police; also consider filing for a Stalking Order of Protection
- Keep track of every incident, no matter how minor, on a Stalking Incident and Behavior Log
- Tell your friends, colleagues, and people with authority about your situation
- Describe, and if possible, show a photograph of the person who is engaged in stalking behavior to the security guards where you work
- Maintain all evidence, or photographs of evidence, including all unwanted communications
- Change your routes and daily routines
- Change all of your passwords and phone number
- Disable location services on your devices
- Block the person on your devices and social media accounts
- Engage in safety planning
- Refrain from, or immediately terminate, any contact with the person
- Do not post plans or your location on social media
- Take personal information off of websites and social media
- Do not assume the behavior will diminish over time or stop on its own
It’s tempting to dismiss those things that we find odd, suspicious, or uncomfortable. We tend to rationalize or justify the behavior of others.
“Believing that others will react as we would is the single most dangerous myth of intervention.”
Gavin de Becker
Err on the Side of Caution When You Notice Stalking Warning Signs
With cases of potential stalking, when in doubt, err on the side of caution. Reach out for help immediately, seek the expertise of those with more experience. Safety is the first and top priority!