Based on a study done by Schwartz-Watts and Morgan at the American Academy of Psychology Law, they found that stalking was far more prevalent than anyone had imagined: 8% of American women and 2% of American men will be stalked in their lifetimes. That's 1. 4 million American stalking victims every year. The majority of stalkers have been in relationships with their victims, but significant percentages either never met their victims, or were just acquaintances - neighbors, friends or co-workers. I have broken down types of stalkers into three broad categories: Intimate partner stalkers, delusional stalkers and vengeful stalkers. Obviously, there is overlap.
Intimate partner stalkers are typically known as the guy who 'just can't let go.' These are most often men who refuse to believe that a relationship has really ended. Often, other people - even the victims - feel sorry for them. But they shouldn't. Studies show that the vast majority of these stalkers are not sympathetic, lonely people who are still hopelessly in love, but were in fact emotionally abusive and controlling during the relationship. Many have criminal histories unrelated to stalking. Well over half of stalkers fall into this 'former intimate partner' category.
Delusional stalkers frequently have had little, if any, contact with their victims. They may have major mental illnesses like schizophrenia, manic-depression or erotomania. What they all have in common is some false belief that keeps them tied to their victims. In erotomania, the stalker's delusional belief is that the victim loves him. This type of stalker actually believes that he is having a relationship with his victim, even though they might never have met. The woman stalking David Letterman, the stalker who killed actress Rebecca Schaeffer and the man who stalked Madonna are all examples of erotomania stalkers.
The final category of stalker is not lovelorn. He is the vengeful stalker. These stalkers become angry with their victims over some slight, real or imagined. Politicians, for example, get many of these types of stalkers who become angry over some piece of legislation or program the official sponsors. But, disgruntled ex-employees can also stalk, whether targeting their former bosses, co-workers or the entire company. Some of these angry stalkers are psychopaths, i.
e. people without conscience or remorse. Some are delusional, (most often paranoid), and believe that they, in fact, are the victims. They all stalk to 'get even.' In general, for any type of stalker, the less of a relationship that actually existed prior to the stalking, the more mentally disturbed the stalker.
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Cavendish Publishing Limited, London, 2002. (website cavendish publishing. com). Pathe, Michele. Surviving Stalking. Cambridge University Press, August 2002.
Purcell, R. , Path'e, M. , Mullen, P. E. Stalking: defining and prosecuting anew category of offending. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry (in press, 2000).