Stalking: It’s NOT Love

Stalking is a crime. Generally it consists of repeated conduct over a period of time that causes you to reasonably fear for your safety or the safety of someone you know. Stalking does not have to result in physical injury to be a crime. The law protects you even if the stalker did not intent to scare you. It is enough if the stalker’s actions or words do scare you. This may be an advance warning of possible future violent acts.

Knowing the signs of stalking gives you the opportunity to take steps to protect yourself.

  1. Is someone repeatedly following you or someone you know from place to place? Repeatedly is more than one time and does not have to be for an extended period of time. The incidents may have occurred during the same day.
  2. Is someone repeatedly communicating with you, either directly or indirectly? Directly can be by telephone, in person, leaving messages, or sending unwanted gifts, notes, letters or emails. Indirectly can be by contacting people you know and having messages sent through them or simply by making repeated unwanted inquiries about you.
  3. Is someone persistently close by or watching your home or any place where you or anyone you know lives, works, carries on business or happens to be?
  4. Have you or any member of your family been threatened by this person?

If you can answer YES to any of these questions, you or someone you know may be a victim of stalking.

What to do and not to do

You are not alone! Break the silence. Call the police. Talk to a friend, co-worker or family member. It is very important to keep detailed notes about the stalking conduct. Dates, times, places, actions and threats are easier to explain and remember when written down.

Keep all recorded telephone messages, emails, gifts, letters or notes that have been sent by the individual. Pay attention to incidents that may seem coincidental. Are you suddenly running into this person more often? Even if you are not sure that you are being stalked, contact the police with the information you do have.

Do not agree to have contact with a person who you think may be stalking you - contact the police. Each stalking situation is different. Sometimes, when a stalker is confronted, he/she may react with violence or the conduct may escalate.

What do we know about stalkers in Canada?

Stalking is not linked to any one specific psychiatric diagnosis. There is no single profile of a stalker that exists. It appears that the main motivation for stalking another person is the desire to control, particularly in cases where the subject is a former partner.

Individuals who stalk may possess one or more various psychological conditions, from personality disorders to mental illness. Most individuals who stalk are engaging in obsessional behaviour. They have persistent thoughts and ideas concerning the object of their attentions. A stalker does not necessarily have a psychiatric disorder.

 

Types of stalkers

Simple Obsessional: Most of these stalkers have been in some form of relationship with the victim. The contact may have been minimal, such as a blind date, but more commonly is a prolonged dating relationship, common-law union or marriage. The perpetrator refuses to recognize that the relationship with the other person is over and the prevailing attitude is “if I can’t have her (or him) then no one else will.” A campaign of harassment, intimidation and psychological terror is mounted. The motivation for the harassment and stalking varies from revenge to the false belief that they can convince or coerce the victim back into the relationship.

Erotomanic: This type of stalker is convinced that the object of his or her attention, usually of the opposite sex, fervently loves him or her and would return the affection if it were not for some external influence. The person about whom this conviction is held is usually of a higher status than the stalker. It could be the supervisor at work, their child’s pediatrician, their church minister or the police officer who stopped them for a traffic violation but did not charge them. Sometimes it can be a complete stranger.

Love Obsessional: Very often the love obsessional stalker suffers from a major psychiatric illness such as schizophrenia or mania and wants to “win over” the love of his or her victim.

Another recognized but not well studied group of stalkers are those who stalk as a component to their sexually deviant focus. Some rapists and pedophiles have stalked because it is incorporated in their fantasies. Some sexual sadist will go through “behavioural try-outs” that will include stalking.

 

Take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones. For more information and resources on family and relationship violence, please visit www.rcmp.ca.

Source: RCMP (condensed)