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Types of Stalkers

January 19, 2010
Types of Stalkers and Stalking Patterns


Via Sexual Harassment Support.

(Note:  The following 6 categories have been defined by P. E. Mullen.  However, even Mullen asserts that these are not entirely mutually exclusive groupings, and the placement of an individual is a matter of judgment.  Like sexual harassers, stalkers may fit more than one profile, or begin with one approach and move to another. )

Rejected Stalker

The most common, persistent and intrusive of all stalkers, the rejected stalker is obsessed with someone who is a former romantic partner or friend, and  who has ended their relationship with the stalker, or indicates that he or she intends to end the relationship.  Depending on the responses of the victim, the stalkers goals will vary, and the rejected stalker usually struggles with the complex desire for both reconciliation and revenge.   As Mullen writes,  “A sense of loss could be combined with frustration, anger, jealousy, vindictiveness, and sadness in ever-changing proportions.”  This stalker may be very narcissistic, and may feel humiliated by the rejection.  In most cases, they will have poor social skills and  a poor social network.  They are also the most likely to try to harm the victim in some way, and may employ intimidation and assault in their pursuit.  They may become jealous if their victim enters or continues a romantic relationship with another person.  A history of violence in the relationship with the partner is not uncommon.

Resentful Stalker

This stalker is looking for revenge against someone who has upset them–it could be someone known to the stalker or a complete stranger.  The behaviors are meant to frighten and distress the victim.   The stalker views the target as being similar to those who have oppressed and humiliated them in the past, and they may view themselves as someone striking back against an oppressor.   Or, the victim could be a professional believed to have cheated or abused the stalker in some way.  Often irrationally paranoid, this kind of stalker can be the most obsessive and enduring.  While the least likely to use physical force, the resentful stalker is the most likely to verbally threaten the victim.  They may use personal threats, complaints to law enforcement and local government, property damage, theft or killing of pet, letters or notes on the victim’s car or house, breaking into the victim’s house or apartment, or watching the victim’s movements.

Predatory Stalker

The least common of all the stalkers, this is the classic sexual predator whose plan is to physically or sexually attack the victim.  They are motivated purely by the desire for sexual gratification and power over
their victim. This type of stalker is sexually deviant, has poor social skills, and usually has lower than normal intelligence.  They usually will not have any direct contact with the victim while they are stalking them.  This stalker may engage in such behaviors as surveillance of the victim, obscene phone calls, fetishism, voyeurism, sexual masochism and sadism, exhibitionism. The victim can be either someone the stalker knows, or a complete stranger.

Intimacy Seeker

The intimacy seeker seeks to establish an intimate, loving relationship with their victim.  To them, the victim is a long sought-after soul mate, and they were meant to be together.   Also, they may have the delusion that the victim is in love with them–usually called erotomania.  They may interpret any kind of response from the victim as encouragement, even negative responses.  This stalker may write letters, send gifts, or  call their victim. They may believe the victim owes them love because of all they have
invested in stalking them, and is very resistant to changing their beliefs. The intimacy seeker has an inflated sense of entitlement, and if they recognize they are being rejected, this stalker may become threatening, or may try to harm the victim in some way, sometimes using violence. (In this way, they may become a rejected stalker, see above.)  This stalker may become jealous if their victim enters or continues a romantic relationship with another person.  After the rejected stalker, the intimacy seeker is the most persistent type of stalker.  They are usually unresponsive to legal sanctions, viewing them as challenges to overcome that demonstrate their love for the victim.

Incompetent Suitor

The Incompetent Suitor desires a romantic or intimate relationship with the victim but is impaired in their social and courting skills.  This stalker may be very narcissistic, and cut off from victim’s feelings (lack of empathy).  The incompetent believes  that anyone should be attracted to them.   Typically, this stalker will repeatedly ask for dates, or call on the phone, even after being rejected.  They may attempt physical contact by trying hold the victim’s hand or kiss the victim, however, the will not become physically violent or threatening.  The incompetent suitor is less persistent than others, and is likely to have stalked numerous others in the past, and will probably do so in the future.   They will quickly stop stalking if threatened with legal action or after receiving counseling.

Erotomaniac and Morbidly Infatuated

This stalker believes that the victim is in love with them.  They believe this even though the victim has done nothing to suggest it is true, and may have made statements to the contrary.  The erotomaniac reinterprets what their victim says and does to support the delusion, and is convinced  that the imagined romance will eventually become a permanent union.  This stalker may suffer from acute paranoia, and typically chooses a victim of higher social status.  They will repeatedly try to approach and communicate
with their supposed lover, and is typically unresponsive to threats of legal action of any kind.   Without psychological treatment, this stalker is likely to continue with their activities.

Cyberstalking and Cyberstalkers

Cyberstalking is an extension of the physical act of stalking; however, the behavior occurs using electronic mediums, such as the Internet and computer sypware.   Someone who is physically stalking an individual may employ cyberstalking as another means to pursue, harass, or force contact. Or, cyberstalking may be the sole means of surveillance and pursuit of the victim.  The stalker may join forums they know their target frequents, and pose as someone else in an attempt to contact their target,
or they may contact other members to get information about the target or defame their character.   They may use spyware to access their target’s computer and the personal information contained within.  Given the vast distances that the Internet spans, a “pure” cyberstalker will never move beyond electronic mediums and into physical stalking.  Still, this does not mean that the behavior is any less distressing, frightening, or damaging, and a cyberstalker’s motives can fit any of the categories described above.
Moreover, given the ability of individuals to ‘mask’ their identity when using the Internet, linking the harassment to one particular individual can be difficult. Programs that mask  IP (Internet Protocol) addresses, and anonymous remailers are merely two examples that hinder the identification of the stalker and their (digital) location.

Take care and STAY SAFE!

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