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According to VictimsOfCrime.org, 7.5 million people are stalked in one year in the United States. Over 85% of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know. 46% of stalking victims experience at least one unwanted contact per week.
Stalking is defined as any unwanted or obsessive attention by an individual or group toward another person. Stalking behaviors are related to harassment and intimidation and may include following the victim in person or monitoring them (Wikipedia).
January commemorates the National Stalking Awareness Month where millions will be hosting events, sharing information, testimonies and petitioning for stronger laws against the act that is considered to be another form of domestic abuse as well as terrorism.
What many don’t realize is that stalking happens far too frequently among both males and females. According to The Stalking Resource Center, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 13 men reported being a victim of stalking in their lifetime.
To bring more clarity as to how this is possible, there are various forms of stalking and types of stalkers that one may not be aware of, thus leaving avenues unchecked to protect oneself against the crime that is considered a felony in some states.
Psychologists often group individuals who stalk into two categories: psychotic and non-psychotic. Stalkers may have pre-existing psychotic disorders such as delusional disorder. Most stalkers are non-psychotic. The non-psychotic stalkers’ pursuit of victims can be influenced by various psychological factors, including anger, hostility, projection of blame, obsession, dependency, minimization, denial and jealousy (Wikipedia).
In “A Study of Stalkers” Dr. Paul E. Mullen identified five types of stalkers:
Rejected stalkers pursue their victims in order to reverse, correct, or avenge a rejection (e.g. divorce, separation, termination).
Resentful stalkers pursue a vendetta because of a sense of grievance against the victims – motivated mainly by the desire to frighten and distress the victim.
Intimacy seekers seek to establish an intimate, loving relationship with their victim. Such stalkers often believe that the victim is a long-sought-after soul mate, and they were ‘meant’ to be together.
Incompetent suitors, despite poor social or courting skills, have a fixation, or in some cases, a sense of entitlement to an intimate relationship with those who have attracted their amorous interest. Their victims are most often already in a dating relationship with someone else.
Predatory stalkers spy on the victim in order to prepare and plan an attack – often sexual – on the victim.
According to Dr. Mullen, stalkers have a range of motivations, from reasserting power over a partner who rejected them to the quest for a loving relationship. Most stalkers are lonely and socially incompetent, but all have the capacity to frighten and distress their victims.
Although stalking can happen to anyone at any age, those between the ages of 18-24 are at higher risks of experiencing stalking abuse.
Many also do not consider stalking a form of abuse, but as a sign that the perpetrator “really cares” or is “just worried” about the target. During a live Twitter-view conducted under the hashtag #Wounds2Wisdom, the question was raised of whether stalking is indeed a form of abuse. Here’s what a few of the participants stated:
“Stalking is absolutely a form of abuse. Its bullying of another form. It’s an invasion of privacy!” – @AkiliahNehanda
“Yes stalking is a form of abuse, it terrifies a woman. Abuse comes in many forms; physical, verbal, emotional, spiritual.”
“Oh yes ma’am. That’s one of the most serious forms of abuse. It attacks mentally. Women are scared to go outside.”
When asked to share their thoughts on the common notion that stalking is a compliment/proof “he cares” whether being stalked via phone/text or being followed, here are a few of the responses:
“It is DEFINITELY NOT okay. Caring enough to protect your woman is one thing. Invading her privacy is crossing boundaries.”
“… women are so starved for attention that we’ve confused positive attention for stalking. Stalking is not love, its control. A man must know that you belong to God. Not him.”
Once you start getting UNCOMFORTABLE then it’s not ok. He’s most likely doing it out of his own insecurities. And an insecure man is liable to do anything to make himself feel falsely empowered.” – @AkilahNehanda
“Those women most times do not know their value or self-worth and starved for attention, negative or else.” – @MsMavis09
The above responses give way to the possibility as to why and how so many people are victimized; it’s not readily recognized as stalking or as a danger until it’s too late.
One of the hair-raising facts about stalking is that the range of time can exist from 4 weeks to 20 years, according to Dr. Mullen in his research study.
It is also important to note the close-knitted relationship between domestic violence, sexual abuse and stalking. According to the Stalking Resource Center, 79% of abused femicide victims reported being stalked during the same period that they were abused. 89% of femicide victims who had been physically assaulted had also been stalked in the 12 months before their murder.
The mental impact that stalking victims suffer is quite immeasurable but has been reported to include the prevalence of anxiety, insomnia, social dysfunction and severe depression. 1 in 7 stalking victims move as a result of their victimization. 1 in 8 employed stalking victims lose time from work as a result of their victimization.
It is imperative that stalking abuse and victimization be taken very seriously and not passed off as something light weight, trivial or as a compliment. Your peace of mind, safety, as well as your life and the lives of those you love depend on it. Be empowered.
To learn more about Stalking Victimization and tips to protect yourself please visit StalkingAwarenessMonth.org.
Ebony S. Muhammad is the Publisher of Hurt2Healing Magazine, a Certified Thanatologist (Grief / Loss) and Lifestyle Coach helping others change the way they view themselves. If you would like to learn more about her one-on-one sessions, click here.