It is estimated that 1 in 14 women will be or have been stalked; according to Current Psychiatry, (James knoll, MD and Phillip Resnick, MD.) In 2005 "an average of three women every day [are murdered by intimate partners.] Of all the women murdered in the U.S., about one-third were killed by an intimate partner (Violence Against Women in the United States: Statistics, National Organization for Women.)
Stalking is a reality that many women face. There are four basic types of stalkers, some more of a nuisance, some deadly. Learn how to stop a stalker, make yourself more safe, or, perhaps, simply survive...more
The Invisible Stalker
This is, in all likelihood, a predator stalker, one who seeks sexual assault, and studies the subject, learning her habits and vulnerabilities. Since the stalker is unknown the only way to prevent an assault is to protect yourself:
• Make certain that windows and doors have sufficient locks, e.g. deadbolts, and lock your doors (my incident happened when I forgot to lock my sliding glass door. He told police that he checked my doors frequently.)
• Check from the outside to ensure that window blinds and curtains are preventing anyone from seeing inside. • Put in a simple alarm system (if renting) or a permanent system if you own your home.
• Take a self-defense class.
• Consider a dog as a companion and a great alarm system on four legs.
• Be aware of your surroundings, not in an obsessive paranoid way, but develop common sense habits. In every day situations trust your instincts, if someplace just feels a little off then leave. Always report a suspicion that someone is stalking you to the police.
Personal Note: I was stalked and raped by an “invisible” stalker. I had never met him, had never seen him, and had absolutely no clue that he was there until the night he broke into my apartment. When arrested he told police that he watched me almost every night through my bedroom curtains. This incident led me to write the Samantha Rose Romantic Suspense Series.
In my case they knew the man and had, in fact, been watching another woman’s apartment a few blocks from me the night of the attack. He had been to the woman’s apartment the night before and had pounded on her door.
The Business Associate/Intimacy-Seeking Stalker
This may be a person who has been attracted to you in the work place, neighborhood, or other social environments, and who romanticizes his stalking. He may see you as his “perfect love” and, since he completely believes his delusion, may require court-mandated psychiatric treatment.
He may want to impress, to win you over. He may have poor social skills and may have intellectual limitations. This type of stalker can run an entire spectrum from danger to annoyance. In some cases the person may sexually harass in subtle ways, brushing next to you, touching you on the shoulder or hand. In more extreme cases the stalker retrieves information about you, e.g. your address, your habits (e.g. what gym you belong to, where you get your haircut,) and begins to follow you, perhaps surprising you with flowers or gifts.
If this person feels “wronged” and you feel that you want to get away from him then there is probably a problem. One of the reason women get raped is that we are taught to be “nice,” to work and play well with others, not to rock the boat. Trust your gut and act aggressively to stop his stalking behavior. If it is occurring in the work place, talk to your employer. It may be helpful to put it in writing and file a complaint. If you have asked the person to stop and they don’t, it may be wise to not discuss it with him further with him as engaging in a conversation with you may be a great “turn on” for him.
If you begin to see him waiting for you outside of your home, for example, or at the stores you frequent, it is likely time to talk to the police. They may simply caution him and the stalking may end.
Note the recommendations above to make your environment safer and to learn basic self-defense.
The Ex-Spouse/Ex-Partner Stalker
This is by far the most common and deadly form. According to the Women’s Health Organization (WHO) 35% of women murdered worldwide were killed by their partners or family members.
What to do: If you are threatened call the police. Take out a restraining order so that police can intervene, hopefully, before an attack takes place.
Women (and often their children) may have to actually build a new life to escape, moving, changing their name, beginning a new occupation. (In my book the main character, Sam, is traced by her professional license registration.)
Do not stay in a violent situation due to lack of money or job. The police, hospitals, doctors, churches and schools often have information on shelters and services for women of abuse.
Do not wait.
If you are being stalked by someone who has personal motivation and a high degree of rage, the person may not be easily stopped, watching for an opportunity when you are most vulnerable. If the stalker has a history of criminal violence, has a weapon, has been incarcerated, and/or has alcohol/substance abuse the danger increases dramatically.
Again, note the suggestions above in making your home more safe and increasing your awareness and skills at handling this dire situation.
Seek counseling. You will need support and resources.
The Psychotic or Delusional Stalker
This type of stalker (and sometimes serial killer) is rare but can be deadly. They may have paranoid tendencies and want to frighten you. A small slight or criticism can be turned into a vendetta, feeling that they are entitled to these feelings and actions. The person is deluded and may believe that you are someone from his past, a woman who rejected him or a type of woman who he hates or fears.
In these situations he is likely to be invisible, but may experience a thrill in meeting you, playing a cat and mouse game, threatening those close to you and leaving traces behind that he has been there, e.g. notes on your car, emails, etc..
This is an instance where you need to trust those instincts. People with these types of mental disorders will demonstrate some type of behavior that reveals they have a problem. It can be a nervousness or unusual excitement, exaggerated anger, jealousy, or threats. You may notice that their communication is a bit off, asking questions that are odd.
If you notice a pattern of this person following you, mysteriously showing up at your work or friends’ houses, places you frequent such as a church or class you are taking, this is reason for concern and police should be notified.
Protect yourself, try to not be alone as much as possible, do not engage in conversations with him as this may be the thrill he is seeking and may garner information about you that will make his actions even more terrifying.
Gather information about him (e.g. his license plate, place of employment, etc.) to provide to the police. Remember that this is an irrational stalker. Your reaction to him may trigger the anger or fear associated with his psychosis or mental disorder.
Stalkers can range from someone who simply wants a date with you, to someone who wants to harm and even kill you. Take these individuals seriously and seek help.
Thanks for visiting, reading, and sharing. We all benefit by supporting women’s services and shelters. Here are some resources: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (includes resources by state.) 20 Standout Groups Stopping Domestic Violence
Find out more about Isabella Willow