A Safeguarding Hub – 8-minute briefing.
In March this year I was fortunate enough to attend a conference on raising the awareness of stalking within the London area. Hosted by The Suzy Lamplugh Trust and the Metropolitan Police Service, the morning session featured a number of engaging speakers, whilst in the afternoon we were asked to choose two workshops to participate in. One of the sessions I opted for, provided me with an insight into the ‘Five Types of Stalking’. Despite thinking I had a pretty decent working knowledge of stalking, I hadn’t heard about these five categories before. I found myself fascinated by the presentation and the interactive exercises the facilitator used to describe the typology of each different stalker group. This involved case studies, but also innovatively, the use of well-known movies and songs to identify the various types. Whilst this may appear a light-hearted way of learning, the subject matter is of the utmost seriousness. I came away from the session confident that I could now identify the motivations of the five types of stalking.
The concept of these five categories of motivation originate from a clinical study between 1997-98, which was developed to “elucidate the behaviours, motivations, and psychopathology of stalkers” (Mullen et al., 1999). The research looked at 145 stalkers from the state of Victoria (Australia), all of whom had been referred to a forensic psychiatry centre for treatment. By breaking down the stalking behaviours and methodology the researchers were able to identify the following five distinct types of stalkers:
- Intimacy seeker
- Incompetent suitor
There have of course been several other studies categorising staking behaviours, but the 1999 research still stands today and it is this classification that is adopted by many who have expertise in this area. It provides an important insight for those professionals working with both perpetrators and the victims of stalking. It can assist us with understanding the motivation behind the stalking and inform risk assessment and help with the management of the stalker. However, classifying stalkers comes with a health warning. These are general categories and not every stalker will tick all the boxes for one type. Stalking typology can overlap and risk assessors should bear this in mind.
The 5 types of stalking
- Motivation - is to establish an emotional connection, intimate and loving relationship with the victim. The stalker believes that the victim loves them, even though the victim has done nothing to imply that this is true.
- Intimacy stalking arises out of a context of loneliness. The perpetrator is frequently a shy, socially inept and isolated person, who will often live alone, without any form of intimate relationship present in their life.
- Victims are usually strangers or acquaintances who become the target of the stalker’s desire for a relationship.
- The stalker believes they have a relationship with the victim, even where there is none. Where the victim has made it clear to the stalker that there is no relationship and they do not reciprocate the stalkers feelings; the stalker is likely to see any form of response from the victim as encouragement to reinforce their belief in the imaginary romance/relationship. They are persistent, stalking over a long period and tend to have an immoveable belief that the victim loves them.
- The stalker may well become jealous of the victim if they enter or are in a relationship with another person. This may lead to feelings of rejection and increase the level of stalking to acts of violence and threats.
- Mental health - Frequently their behaviour is fuelled by a severe mental illness involving paranoia and delusional beliefs about the victim, such as a conviction that their love is reciprocated (erotomanic delusions).
- Motivation - is to establish contact in the hope of a friendship or short-term sexual relationship. They may stalk acquaintances but also strangers.
- Unlike intimacy stalkers they do not endow their victims with unique qualities and whilst there is an attraction, infatuation is unlikely.
- The stalker is generally lonely, socially inept in relationships and with poor communication and social skills, often relating to an autism spectrum disorder.
- This type of stalker may well be removed and indifferent to the distress of the victim. They may repeatedly ask the victim to go on dates even where they have been rejected.
- Likely to have history of stalking others.
- The timeline for stalking will often be shorter than other types.
- Motivation – can be either an attempt to reconcile a close or intimate relationship, or taking revenge for a perceived rejection e.g. where the other person ends or informs the stalker, they intend to end the relationship.
- The stalker may switch between these motivations, at time presenting as someone who wants to reconcile, but at other times becoming angry and seeking revenge. They may feel a great sense of loss, jealously, anger and malice.
- Victims are usually former sexual partners. However, others with a close relationship to the victim can also become targets.
- The stalker can often appear narcissistic, but will often feel humiliated by the rejection, with low self-esteem.
- Rejected stalkers are more likely to be persistent, intrusive and inflict assault on their victim. There is increased chance that there has been a history of violence within the relationship.
- Motivation - is the desire for revenge. They want to create fear and distress in the victim, from which they achieve a sense of control and power.
- The victim will be an acquaintance, stranger or an organisation that they feel has upset, mistreated or persecuted them.
- The stalker will feel some sort of injustice and humiliation. They will want to ‘even the score’.
- They may be suffering from paranoid beliefs, will feel they are the victim and fighting back. They will believe they are justified in what they are doing.
- This stalker type often uses threats and damages property, rather than physical violence, but this cannot be ruled out.
- Motivation – the stalking occurs in the context of deviant sexual practices and interests. The perpetrator stalks as part of their overall gaol which is to attack the victim, usually sexually.
- The stalker wants to achieve sexual gratification, power and control over the victim.
- The victim may be a stranger or an associate, whom they have developed a sexual interest in.
- Most predatory stalkers are male.
- They may have abnormal sexual desires and may be known for previous sexual crimes.
- This type of stalking does not usually involve harassing the victim or even making face to face contact with them. Instead, the stalking comprises of surveillance, obscene and silent phone calls, and voyeurism. They will want to ‘get to know’ their victim from afar. They will fantasise over, prepare for, and rehearse the attack
- This type of stalking is more likely to involve physical violence.
Thanks for reading