Psychology of stalking

Stalking - Victim Connect Resource Center


Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Unlike other crimes that involve a single incident, stalking is a pattern of behavior. It is often made up of individual acts that could, by themselves, seem harmless or noncriminal, but when taken in the context of a stalking situation, could constitute criminal acts. Legal definitions of stalking differ depending on where you live; however stalking is a crime under the laws of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Territories, and the Federal government. Stalking is serious, often violent, and can escalate over time.

What is Stalking?

While this list isn’t exhaustive, you may be a victim of stalking if someone:

  • Repeatedly calls your phone, including hang-ups
  • Follows you and shows up wherever you are
  • Sends unwanted gifts, letters, texts, or emails
  • Damages your home, car, or other property
  • Monitors your phone calls or computer use, possibly through spyware
  • Uses technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go
  • Drives by or lingers near your home, school, or work
  • Threatens to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets
  • Performs other actions that control, track, or frighten you
  • Uses other people to try to communicate with you, like children, family, or friends

If you have been stalked, you may:

  • Be fearful of what the stalker is capable of doing
  • Feel vulnerable, unsafe, or not know who to trust
  • Feel depressed, hopeless, angry, anxious, irritable, on-edge, and hypervigilant
  • Have flashbacks, disturbing thoughts, feelings, or memories
  • Feel confused, frustrated, or isolated because other people don’t understand why you are afraid
  • Miss work or school for fear of seeing your stalker
  • Change your normal or preferred social media habits

What can I do?

While there is no universal set of steps that will work for everyone, these actions may help you feel in control of your life again:

  • Call 911 for Immediate Assistance – You know yourself and your situation better than anyone. Trust your instincts and call for help if you feel you are in danger.
  • Alert Others – Tell trusted friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and/or your HR department to keep an eye out for suspicious activity and so they don’t mistakenly give out information to someone pretending to be a loved one.
  • Connect with an Advocate – Advocates can often be found at local domestic violence and/or sexual assault agencies, police departments, and district attorney’s offices. Advocates can help explain local stalking laws, walk you through filing a protective order, connect you with local services, and help you develop a safety plan.
  • Document Every Incident – Make a log of encounters with the stalker, hang-up calls, and public sightings. Save all messages, emails, and your call history. Consider using this incident and behavior log form from the Stalking Prevention, Awareness, & Resource Center (SPARC).
  • End All Contact – Sometimes this is easier said than done, but try not to answer calls or messages, even if you are requesting that the stalker stop. Any contact may encourage the stalker to continue the stalking behavior.
  • Take Threats Seriously –A direct threat against you is an obvious sign of danger. A stalker can also use threats of suicide or self-harm to manipulate you into staying in contact or a dangerous situation.
  • Create a Safety Plan – Develop a personalized plan to keep yourself safe. Find help doing this here or connect with an advocate for assistance.
  • Prepare Your Children – Teach your children what to do if there is an emergency, like where to hide if there is danger in the house, or how to call the police or a trusted person for help.

Learn more

The Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC) offers a variety of information related to stalking, including information on stalking, safety planning, and other resources.

Technology Safety & Privacy: A Toolkit for Survivors from the National Network to End Domestic Violence contains safety tips, information, and privacy strategies for survivors when using technology.

Visit our VictimConnect Resource Map for additional resources or contact the VictimConnect Resource Center by phone or text at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services that can help you or a loved one after experiencing stalking.

In the Mind of a Stalker

Reposted from the online magazine, "The Trauma & Mental Health Report."

In 1989 at the age of 21, Rebecca Schaeffer was a successful television actress when a deluded fan with a gun took it all away from her with a single shot. Following this highly publicized murder, California passed the nation’s first anti-stalking statute in 1990, with other U.S. states quickly following suit.

Stalking is defined as repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. In 2006, psychologist Brian Spitzberg at San Diego State University conducted large-scale representative studies of stalking behavior across three continents. He reported that 2–13% of males and 8–32% of females are victimized by stalking at some point in their adult lives, and in the majority of such cases, the person is stalked by someone they know.

The relentless neurotic nature of the stalker can take the form of harassing their targets, calling them repeatedly, as well as sending letters and gifts. If these are ineffective, the individual may escalate to more intrusive behaviors such as spying on, and unexpectedly confronting their victims. Research tends to focus on how violating it is to bear the brunt of stalkers’ obsessions, but there is little to explain what exactly motivates the stalker, and further, how to therapeutically treat these offenders.

Researcher Katrina Baum at the National Institute of Justice in Washington conducted a national stalking victimization study in 2009. Victims were asked what they thought motivated their stalkers to pursue them. Of 3,416,460 victims, 36.6% considered stalker motivations as “retaliation, anger or spite,” 32. 9% replied “control,” and 23.4% said “mental illness or emotional instability.”

In reality, most stalkers do not suffer from hallucinations or delusions, although many do suffer from other forms of mental illness including depression, substance abuse, and personality disorders.

In 1993, Australian stalking expert Paul Mullen, clinical director and chief psychiatrist at Victoria’s Forensicare, a high-security hospital for mentally ill offenders, analyzed the behavior of 145 diagnosed stalkers. Based on their analyses, Mullen and fellow colleagues proposed five stalker subtypes, in an attempt to facilitate diagnosis and treatment. These subtypes are currently the most extensively used categorization in classifying stalker behavior.

Mullen defined the rejected stalking type as an individual who has experienced the unwanted end of a close relationship, most likely with a romantic partner, but also with a parent, work associate, or acquaintance. When this stalker’s attempts to reconcile fail, they frequently seek revenge. The therapeutic focus is usually centered on the stalker "falling out of love." The individual is counseled on how to move on from an angry preoccupation with the past to the sadness of accepted loss.

The intimacy seeker identifies a person, often a complete stranger, as their true love and begins to behave as if they are in a relationship with that person. Many intimacy seeking stalkers carry the delusion that their love is reciprocated. In 2009, country star Shania Twain had a stalker who fit this profile and received numerous love letters from him. He even attended Twain’s grandmother’s funeral without an invitation. The focus of management of intimacy seekers is on the underlying mental disorder coupled with efforts to overcome the social isolation and the lack of social competence that sustains it.

The incompetent subtype, like the intimacy seeker, hopes their behavior would lead to a close relationship, satisfying their need for contact and intimacy. However, this type of stalker acknowledges that their victim is not reciprocating their affection while they still continue their pursuit. Mullen views these stalkers as intellectually limited and socially awkward. Given their inability to comprehend and carry out socially normal and accepted courting rituals, the incompetent stalker uses methods that are often counterproductive and frightening. This was seen in 2004 when pop sensation Britney Spears’ stalker sent numerous love letters, e-mails, and photos of himself with frightening notes saying things such as “I’m chasing you.”

The resentful stalker experiences feelings of injustice and desires revenge against their victim rather than a relationship. Their behavior reflects their perception that they have been humiliated and treated unfairly, viewing themselves as the victim. It is has been found that resentful stalkers often regard their fathers as highly controlling. Mark Chapman, the notorious John Lennon stalker and murderer is a classic case of a resentful stalker. He described himself as the world’s biggest rock fan and admired Lennon and all his work, until he read a biography of the musician. Angered that Lennon would “preach love and peace but yet have millions [of dollars],” Chapman shot and killed Lennon on December 8, 1980. In later testimonials, Chapman described how his father “never told me he loved me; and he never said he was sorry.” The focus on a distressing past and the compulsive reliving of this pain can contribute to a mood disorder. Also, in a fortunate few there is a paranoid disorder that responds at least partially, to antipsychotic medication.

Finally, the predator stalker also has no desire for a relationship with their victims, but a sense of power and control. Mullen explains that they find pleasure in gathering information about their victim and fantasizing about assaulting them physically, and most frequently sexually. Predatory stalkers should almost always be managed within a sex-offender program, with the main focus being on the management of the paraphilia that is the driving force behind the stalking behavior.

Therapeutic interventions for stalkers are directed first at their mental disorders. Stalkers as a group, have an impressive capacity to rationalize, minimize and excuse their behaviors. Mullen explains that in almost all stalkers there is a need both to improve interpersonal and social skills, and to instill a more realistic understanding of the impact of their behaviors on victims. Stalkers should be managed individually, with group work avoided. Like sex offenders, stalkers can readily establish networks of mutual support and information-sharing within the group, sustaining the behavior being treated.

In those stalkers motivated by a vengeful resentment, there is often an acute sensitivity to the confusion, distress and fear produced by their activities. Because of this sensitivity, programs developed to enhance victim empathy can be readily adapted for use with these individuals. It is uncommon to encounter a stalker with adequate interpersonal and social skills. Difficulties establishing or maintaining intimate relationships lie at the basis of many stalking episodes. Improving this area of function can contribute not only to resolving the current stalking but also to reduce the chances of reoffending. Many stalkers have narrowed their daily activities to being entirely focused on the victim. Encouraging even limited social activities can be helpful.

Mullen’s research suggests that professionals should focus not on the stalkers as criminals but as vulnerable, distressed individuals whose behaviors reflect, at least in part, the influence of a serious underlying mental disorder. The most important step in the management of stalkers is to see them as individuals in need of psychological help.

—Contributing Writer: Stephanie Rhys, The Trauma & Mental Health Report

—Chief Editor: Robert T. Muller, The Trauma & Mental Health Report

I will always be with you! How men become stalkers — Knife

Who are stalkers

“Every breath you take, every move you make — I’ll be watching you,” purrs Sting in one of the most famous ballads, and romantics melt with emotion. But if you listen to the words, this hit can be considered the anthem of stalkers.

A stalker is a person who literally persecutes another because of strong (usually unrequited) love or hatred.

Yes, many lovers really want to be together with their chosen one so much that they completely lose their shores. Love in no time turns into obsession: and now the guy follows the object of his adoration like a shadow, fills him with anonymous notes, calculates what time and from where a person returns home, is on duty at the entrance ... Looks like fanaticism, doesn't it?

British forensic psychiatrist David Grubin from St. Nicholas Hospital claims that stalkers are much more resourceful and educated most criminals are , and are behaviorally divided into three large groups. The former pursue victims in real life, finding out home and work addresses. The second one prefers cyberstalking: starting from hacking personal correspondence and ending with orders in the name of the victim in online stores and falsification of social networks (yes, stalkers can create fake accounts, for example, copy the Instagram of their object cleanly). The third group prefers to act aggressively - up to violence, threats to the families of the victims and physical reprisals against the victim.

“In general, stalking began with the persecution not of individuals, but of celebrities,” says Dzhinna Grigorievna Litinskaya, Ph.D. philosopher. PhD, Associate Professor of ION RANEPA. - And this is very significant from the point of view of clinical psychology, because there is a fetishization of personality. That is, the fan falls in love with the picture. An idol for him is not a person, but an object. You know, there are fetishists who go crazy over women's panties? So, for a stalker fan, a star is panties with which you can do whatever you want.

The obsessed person does not understand that celebrities are a separate person with their own feelings, reactions, and, most importantly, boundaries. The phrase "I will achieve her / him at any cost" instead of "She will definitely love me if she knows better" is a stalker's beacon.

Depersonalization and objectification lead to sad consequences: let us recall, for example, the young officer Ricardo Lopez, who sent Björk a parcel with a bomb and then committed suicide. Or John Hinckley, unrequitedly in love with Jodie Foster. He fired six bullets at US President Ronald Reagan. Hinckley shifted the responsibility for his act to the actress: "Either love me, Jody, or someone else will suffer." What can we say about things stolen from the stars or torn curls. A celebrity is often perceived as an object that cannot be hurt or scared.

However, not only Hollywood stars are at risk. On the Dvach forum, threads about how to "hunt down the victim" flourish. Anonymous share life hacks on how to stay in the game longer to remain unrecognized, as well as where to get spy equipment, glasses with built-in cameras and microphones.

Are you sure that the rejected lover, after watching your vacation stories, is not rushing after you at full steam now? Are you sure that the fifth random meeting with an acquaintance in a week is really random?

“When we fall in love with someone, we want to see the object of our affection as often as possible. There is a desire to intersect with him in some places and companies, at least until we muster up the courage to ask him on a date. This is a normal interest in a person, - Genie reassures. — However, here it is important not to cross the invisible line — not to violate the boundaries of a person. If you collide systematically, without a break, and even not at mass events, the chosen one will be wary: “It turns out that my plans are easy to calculate ...”

Forensic psychologist Giorgi Natsvlishvili, a colleague of Jinnah, does not consider being in love an excuse for obsession at all: “Unrequited love is the norm for up to six months, a maximum of a year. In the event that one of the partners rejects courtship and makes it clear that he is not interested, while the other continues to stick, we can already talk about an addiction that needs to be treated.

Giorgi also refers to nervous updating of social networks and sticking to stories as stalking. But not everything is so hopeless: this rule does not apply to media persons. If your favorite blogger posts hundreds of stories a day, he wants to be looked at. Including you.

However, Instagram is Instagram, but you need to know the honor. In this sense, the plot of the film "Ingrid Goes West" is very indicative, the main character of which admires the star of social networks and dreams of becoming friends with her at all costs. The keywords are "by all means".

Ingrid moves to Los Angeles, visits Taylor's favorite places, spends the night in an ambush at her house, even steals a dog to meet her idol. At first, everything goes according to plan, and soon the girls become friends. But then a rival appears on the horizon - a millionaire blogger, in whom Taylor clearly has more interest. When it turns out that Ingrid was tracking down her friend, she completely breaks all ties with her, and the main character tries to commit suicide.

Unfortunately, such an ending is not the product of the scriptwriters' wild imagination. Persecutors most often do not consider themselves as such, do not understand that they are crossing the line, and when they do, it is already too late.

One of the psychologists shared with us a case from his practice: frightened relatives brought an intelligent, smart young man by the hand after a suicide attempt. He was absolutely sane and repeated every meeting: “Well, how did you manage to get me into a mess?” It turned out that the patient was stalking the ex-girlfriend (although he didn’t understand it himself) — he was simply showing obsessive signs of attention.

One day he was on duty at the elevator entrance. And when the girl who came out shied away from him, the guy for the first time saw genuine animal fear in the eyes of his ex. He felt like a maniac and did not want to live with it.

This story has a happy ending (psychotherapy saved), but often the stalkers are one step away from turning into a monster from Steven Soderbergh's film "Uncomfortable" (recall: the heroine had to kill the pursuer who was following her around the country in order to survive herself).

Giorgi Natsvlishvili shared a similar story in which he managed to avoid bloodshed: “A guy — a huge two-meter kid — fell in love with a Muscovite. I wrote to her, figured out her boyfriend and friends, openly got jealous and made claims, and then I completely found out her home address and came to Moscow. I waited at the subway, saw off to the university and walked around the territory, naturally, spent the night in the yard. They talked to him like a human and beat him - to no avail. The victim was saved by the move.”

Stalking is caused not only by great love. There is a known case when a prominent scientist flunked a graduate student defending her dissertation, and then traveled after her to other universities, preventing her from defending herself there. He himself believed that he was acting for the good: they say, one cannot discredit science with such low-quality work.

But these are still flowers, here are the berries: the followers of Nikolai Levashov (a neo-pagan and occultist whose books are recognized as extremist and banned in Russia) have been persecuting one of our interlocutors for a year.

“I am Jewish and, of course, I was fascinated by Levashov’s writings that Jewish women are planted with reptilian embryos from the planet Nibiru, so all Jews are reptilians who came to take over the Earth. Well, apparently, due to inaccuracy, she gave herself away in the public of Levashov's followers. Now they track my social networks, like every post, get hidden pictures. For them, I am a wonderful marvel, a reptilian in the flesh. Despite the fact that I know how to work with fear, this story is unpleasant for me. What should I do if they cause real harm? Ask in court for protection from people who consider me a reptilian?

Law and persecution

“Where are the gallant police?” - you ask. Psychologists and victims unanimously repeat that law enforcement officers can only provide minimal assistance - to lead to the subway or to the house if the victim has noticed the pursuer. And most often they shrug their hands, getting off with the notorious “when they kill you, then come.

In the US and Europe, where stalking is criminalized, this issue is more strictly regulated. It is enough to collect evidence of the crime - and the annoying type will be behind bars for ten years.

“One young man couldn't cope with our parting,” Lyubov, who lives in Germany, shares her story. — Wherever I went, his car was nearby. He parked near my work, the shops I went to. Called and hung up, being under the windows of the house. The last straw was a soft toy thrown under the door - then I finally realized how close he was. She hired a lawyer and threatened with the police. Thank God it helped."

Another ex-lover of Lyuba worked more subtly: the girl left for Rome, the guy wrote as if in jest: “Let me come?” Lyuba was frightened: “One message was enough to make me nervous. And then he started posting pictures of trains going to Rome. The whole vacation I was on pins and needles, I constantly looked around, I was afraid to run into him.

It is noteworthy that in both cases the relationship ended by mutual agreement: “There were no prerequisites for such behavior. Both knew that I had depression and an anxiety disorder, and they understood how traumatic such stories were. And so it happened: now I don’t trust people, I don’t give my home address.”

Your digital shadow: cyberstalkers

It's hard to say what's scarier: when someone you know or an anonymous person from social networks follows you around. Daria, who faced the second option, describes a chilling story.

“In 2016, a very stubborn guy got attached to me. It all started with the creation of my fakes on Twitter: the dude took my design, avatar, posted tweets in the style of "I work there, and I'm a fallen woman and suck around the clock", wrote nasty things to friends on my behalf. The accounts were quickly blocked, but this did not stop him. In January, he leaked my real address with the comment: “You will know how to write about feminism. Walk and look around!” At this point, I panicked in earnest. In the third account, a person posted a photo of my entrance - not some kind of Internet, but with a flash. That is, he did his best, he came himself - security cameras recorded camera flashes at the entrance. He also leaked a photo of my car and, worst of all, a photo of my parents with photoshopped mourning ribbons. I began to write obituaries, saying that I, my parents and the dog died in a car accident. And, besides this, the stalker regularly posted ads on automotive sites: they say, I sell cheap cars. And he also registered on my behalf in groups of prostitutes, met men - they called me every minute, it was simply impossible to touch the phone. I am sure that all this was done by one person, because the accounts are registered to one number.

Fortunately, the ardent anti-feminist ran out of steam, and Daria, as usually happens in such situations, was helped by psychotherapy. The police did not see a real threat to life.

In June, Anna Gecht, managing editor of one of the educational projects, admitted on Facebook that for a long time she was embarrassed to talk about her stalking experience. “In that situation, I still blame myself. She was too friendly or, you know, even cheeky. At times I imagine what phrases I shouldn’t have said and written, what films I shouldn’t have gone to, and what clothes I shouldn’t have worn, ”the girl began the post.

“We studied at the same university at the same faculty, in different groups and in different departments. Considering my constant employment at work, we almost never ran into each other. Until I needed lectures on some of the subjects. I was brought up to be polite, so I offered to put down coffee or something stronger for materials. Then we started to be friends. It seemed to me that everything was exactly like that. At that time, my girlfriend and colleague lived in my apartment, from time to time we held parties, where once we invited my stalker as well. Then he learned not only my phone numbers, but also my address.

And then he was in front of my entrance, when my girlfriend had already moved out, he called the intercom and cell phone, asking me to open the door. Then he no longer asked, but demanded. I remember how I hung up the intercom so as not to hear this sound, and turned off the sound on the phone. I remember how I got through to the police and heard the classic “What are you being threatened with? Sex? So relax and enjoy."

I can break down my reaction in seconds, when I went to VKontakte and saw a message from him, he said that I got into his soul very deeply during our communication, and I must repay, and by payment he means sex. And I did not understand either then or now how I could deserve such treatment.

You know, it subsided after that. This person first sent me photos of me from the back somewhere on the streets of the city, which made me think that I was being followed. Then he called me to a meeting (during which I asked a friend to be at the next table to save me, if anything), at which he told me that he just loves me. This man at my graduation party on the monument was taking off my breasts or my underpants, which made me get out of there much earlier than I wanted. And the same person a few years later wrote to me (and I still don’t know why) that he had found his other half.

But this story is not about this person, this is a story about me. About the one who prefers to remain silent about such events, because it is shameful in our culture. Because the woman is always to blame.

For me, the clear rule "mouth to ear" became the way out - that is, to say all the agreements, values ​​and desires that you have, and listen to your friend / partner. If at this stage you do not converge, and the interlocutor wants something more, and you are not ready to give it, and this does not suit him, it is easier and safer to end the relationship right away.

It seems to me that if you repeat this again, I would in no case try to meet with the stalker and listen to him again.

This rule is confirmed by Giorgi Natsvlishvili: "In no case do not come into contact with stalkers - they love attention. "

Anna's nightmare ended when the stalker got into a relationship and the girl herself moved to another city.

Psychology of persecution

Psychologists divide stalking into two types: psychotic and non-psychotic.

Non-psychotic stalking may be due to a neurosis based on unrequited love. It can go hand in hand with borderline personality disorder (in which a person has problems with attachment) or adjustment disorder. In such cases, long-term psychotherapy helps.

Medications correct the behavior of psychotic stalkers - those who became stalkers on the background of bipolar affective or schizoaffective disorder.

True, in the modern world the boundary between normality and pathology is so blurred that it is only the object of stalking that can determine whether the cuckoo has "lost" the admirer.

“Don't you see that stalking is a cultural norm? Jinnah is surprised. - It's normal to have several numbers, throw each other on the black list and get them out of it. So you went through all the likes on his page and friends pages to figure out his girlfriend. And they immediately posted a photo with a guy to arouse jealousy. Now let the first one calculate it by the likes in your profile. It is clear that everyone is jealous, everyone wants a monogamous relationship, but is this a reason to get under the skin?

We are already silent about the indispensable desire of madly in love to get the crash number, to hack the correspondence. Yes, yes, this is discussed in everyday conversations over coffee or during a break between couples. Stalking has entered our lives to such an extent that it is not surprising to cross the border of what is acceptable - after all, it is practically non-existent.

P. S. This text is written about male stalkers because there are no official statistics on female stalkers. But the editors of the Knife also want to look into the other side of the problem. Therefore We ask men who have experienced harassment or excessive attention from women to send their stories to [email protected] media marked "Woman Stalker". Or fill out an anonymous form here.

Why are they following us | My friend, yes you are a transformer


Text: Anna Bobrova

Illustrations: Polina Mityaeva

November 03, 2017

After the attack on the host of "Echo of Moscow", there was a serious reason to discuss the problem of stalking - unwanted obsessive harassment. In Russia, a person who is persecuted is not protected: a stalker cannot be held accountable until he has caused physical harm. The author of samizdat, Anna Bobrova, has studied the problem, and she has disturbing information - it turns out that any person can start a stalker.

Life with a stalker

“Yu-u-ulenka, I love you,” this phrase was heard every day behind her back: when she left the university, when she went to work, when she returned to the hostel. Oleg found out the numbers of Yulia's relatives, congratulated them on the holidays. Once I went to her hometown. Then he sent a photograph of the house where she lived before moving to Moscow. Julia deleted social media accounts, changed SIM cards, even apartments. He found her again and again. And almost every day for eight years he was on guard at the entrance.

This started in 2009. Celebrating the end of the first year, Yulia walked around the center with her friend. They stopped to listen to the street musicians and noticed that the handsome young man was staring at them. We met, started talking and the three of us went for a walk around Moscow at night. Oleg was ten years older than Yulia, he said that he works in real estate. He seemed to her modest, harmless and stupid. After this walk, Yulia met Oleg one more time and decided that this meeting was their last.

But Oleg did not agree with her. He started calling every day. Julia tried to explain that she did not want a relationship with him and she did not like such obsession, but the man did not let up. Soon Yulia had a friend, and Oleg disappeared. He didn't show up for two and a half years. And it arose again when Yulia broke up with her boyfriend: Oleg was waiting for her near the university, as if two years had not passed. And then he showed up again and again.

No matter what Yulia did to get rid of Oleg! At first, she complained to the police, but she got nothing but ridicule from the operatives. Then she took her pursuer to a psychologist - Oleg willingly agreed to go to a specialist together. In general, he was ready to do everything that Julia would say. He could not fulfill only one Yulina request - to leave her alone. The psychologist, after talking with the client, came to the conclusion that the person is on the verge of pathology. But what to do with this knowledge was not clear, because Oleg did not want to be treated.

Then Yulia found Oleg's mother and tried to explain that her son was ill.

“At the meeting, I realized that she was also not quite healthy,” recalls Yulia. It was very difficult for me to talk to her. She raised her hands and said: “Just imagine that this is my son, and this is you. There is an energy thread between you, and you are tearing and tearing this thread all the time...”. In the end, she told me that she would try to talk to her son.”

But the conversation with my mother did not give anything either. Oleg continued to pursue. Didn't attack, didn't cause physical harm - just dragged around like a shadow. Yulia's friends tried to “talk” with him many times, but such conversations did not help either. No shouting, no swearing, no pleading—nothing worked. Oleg was sure that he and Yulia were made for each other, and was ready to follow her forever. Over time, Julia noticed that he hardly changes clothes. He didn't seem to have a job, even though he claimed to be a real estate agent and even planned to buy a car.

“After a while, I got so used to his presence in my life that I got some kind of Stockholm syndrome,” Yulia recalls. “It seemed to me that with this persecution, he seemed to make my life a little brighter.”

Oleg stopped his persecution in 2015 after Yulia got married. But he warned that he would wait until she divorced.

Who becomes a stalker

According to the narcologist psychiatrist Alexei Egorov, MD, stalkers are conditionally divided into two types: the mentally ill and the love addicts. In both cases, the pursuit is cyclical - there are ups and downs. If a person is sick, then the activity of the stalker coincides with seasonal exacerbations. But the life of stalker addicts is more like the life of alcoholics or other people with addictions: they are drunk or drunk. The trouble is that even when an alcoholic is in the eyeballs, he still wants to drink. It's the same with stalkers. But "in the eyeballs" they are still able to live a normal life and control themselves.

Mentally ill people lack self-control. If they kill someone, they will end up not in a colony, but in a madhouse. Addicts are responsible for their actions. They are not completely healthy, but they do not have delusional states. They try to achieve reciprocity from the object of their passion and, in principle, they can show aggression, but most often they are simply obsessive. The worst thing that a love addiction can lead to is suicide or the murder of a love object. At the same time, from the point of view of forensic psychiatry, addicts are generally healthy and sane.

There is a certain type of person who is more prone to addiction of any kind. These are people with a genetic predisposition (for example, parents with drug or alcohol addiction), with mild organic brain damage, with certain character traits (impulsiveness, thirst for novelty). There are also addicts who were influenced by external circumstances, such as the loss of a love object or childhood abuse (including sexual abuse). According to Egorov, there are only two or three percent of love addicts in the youth population, but not in all cases there is stalkerism.

Stalking is quite common. There are no relevant statistics in Russia, because there is no corresponding article either criminal or administrative. But if you ask people you know if they've been harassed, you'll probably hear more stories about stalking than you might expect. In countries where there are penalties for stalking, there are also statistics: for example, in the UK, according to a 2015 survey, 1.1 million people aged sixteen to fifty-nine were harassed over a twelve-month period, and in the United States, according to 2012 year, in the same age range, 3.3 million people became victims of stalkers. According to statistics, the majority of stalkers are men. Women are less likely to persecute people, but among female stalkers, mentally unhealthy people are more common.

Who becomes a victim

A person can become a victim of a stalker, regardless of their behavior in social networks and personal qualities. There are no universal rules and precautions here. You can behave detachedly, not get in touch with the pursuer, but it is not a fact that this will somehow affect his activity.

Anna Veduta never communicated with the cyberstalker who pursued her for a year and a half: she just methodically blocked his accounts on social networks, and he methodically started new ones in order to write letters to her. She first saw his messages in July 2016: she opened the “Other” folder on Facebook and found that a person had written to her every day since May. His messages did not contain any requests and did not imply a response. The author was just having some kind of dialogue with her. Then he began to follow her every movement on the network, every comment, post, all her acquaintances and friends. In letters, he made it clear that he knew everything that Anna and her friends write about on social networks.

For the last six months, he has been sending letters every day in response to the English-language mailing list of the Meduza publication where Anna works. It is clear from the reports that the stalker lives in a fictional universe where Anna is his wife, they are in a sexual relationship, and Meduza communicates personally with him through the headlines of their materials. Several times the stalker wrote to Anna's acquaintances to find out some information about her.

“Before that, I didn’t know if this person was dangerous, but now I understand that yes”

“I wasn't scared until I saw an anti-Semitic message with a terrible call to action,” says Anna. “Before that, I didn’t know if this person was dangerous, but now I understand that yes. At the same time, he actively follows the agenda, he has some favorite characters, for example, he turns on Navalny and Oksimiron, that is, on people who are now on the buzz. It seems to me that he perceives the virtual world as real, as if he lives what they write about in the media, or what he sees in series and films.

Now Anna lives in the USA where harassment, including virtual ones, is considered as an administrative offense. She can contact the police at any time, but she sees no point in this, because the persecutor, apparently, lives in Latvia. But Anna does not rule out that sooner or later she will turn to law enforcement agencies for help: “He gave away his place of residence many times, his acquaintances got his exact address by IP, and if he finally gets me, I will inform the Latvian police.”

How to punish for stalking

As lawyer Mari Davtyan explains, in the legislation of almost all European countries, the USA, Canada and Australia, persecution is spelled out in a separate article. In most European countries, you can get a real prison sentence for stalking. In Germany, for example, such an article provides for punishment of up to three years in prison, in Italy they can even be imprisoned for silent calls, and in the UK, after two calls, you can contact the police with a request to take action.

“In Russia, stalkers do not legally commit anything illegal until their actions begin to comply with the article “attempted murder,” says Davtyan. “No matter how the persecutors behave, the victim cannot protect himself from them. She can only contact law enforcement to inform the police. But in ninety percent of cases, the police do nothing, that is, they do not conduct any preventive conversations, they do not call the persecutors anywhere.”

Anatoly Gorin (name changed at the request of the hero) has been working in law enforcement agencies for more than 15 years. In his opinion, although there is a gap in the legislation on this part, a lot depends on the professionalism of the police officers. According to him, in any case, they are obliged to accept the application in accordance with Articles 144 and 145 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation and begin consideration. In such cases, the application is written on the threat of life. At the first stage, the police must determine the degree of threat, find out if this person has similar stories in the past. Further, depending on the situation, a preventive conversation can be held, but if it turns out from the testimony that there is a threat to life, then the person is detained.

“There are times when people apply just to annoy someone,” says Gorin. - But the victims of stalkers are usually, on the contrary, so intimidated that they don’t do it. I know that many decide to deal with this in other ways: through some private security firms, through acquaintances, so as not to wait for the police to consider the case. Although it is faster, it is less effective: such a person [stalker] may stop interfering with you personally, but will find a new victim, especially if he has a mental illness.”

"It was such a groundhog day with daily messages and threats"

Until the age of twelve, Angelina had never communicated with her biological father. Mom and grandmother never talked about him, and they perceived questions about their father painfully. The only thing she knew was that he was in prison. When Angelina's father was released, he found his daughter in Odnoklassniki and wrote. For some time they communicated by correspondence, Angelina was interested in the details of his life, talked about the school, but then the communication stopped - both of them were no longer interested. Two years later, he began to pursue her.

“When I was fourteen, something came over him and he started following me and writing all the time,” says Angelina. — I think it was an excuse to get to my mom. At first, for the first six months, it was scary, then it only made me angry.”

Every evening her father, whom Angelina had never seen, wrote her messages telling her where and with whom she went today, what she was wearing. For three years of persecution, she never saw her stalker, he managed to follow her unnoticed, and this frightened her even more. Fear alternated with irritation, the girl was pissed off by these messages and a sense of powerlessness. It seemed that it was impossible to tell my mother, because this is a difficult topic for her. Sometimes her father would get drunk and write threats to her, saying that tomorrow she would not reach the house, or that he would take her away - and she would never see her mother again.

“I didn't know in what state he was following me and what he might think. At that time, I just didn’t go anywhere alone, even in public places I appeared with someone, at home there was a strict curfew, ”recalls Angelina. “It was such a groundhog day with daily messages and threats, without any exhaust. When you wait for something for a long time, you wait, but nothing happens, you start to get annoyed. On the one hand, you understand that most likely these are just words, but in your soul there is fear: “What if?” I think that partly it happened to him because of an unhealthy psyche. He served two terms, and the second was quite long - ten years.

From time to time, Angelina's father stopped the persecution for several months, simply disappeared and did not write anything. He appeared again every time exactly when the girl relaxed: it seemed as if he felt these moments. In the end, Angelina told her relatives everything. The family decided not to go to the police and figure it out on their own.

“Mom talked to some friends, they found his wife, told her everything. Then they found him himself and talked to him - I don’t know if this conversation was only verbal or something else, but the persecution stopped. I still don’t know exactly how they dealt with him and why he disappeared,” says Angelina.

As lawyer Mari Davtyan explains, such cases are the most common. Most often, ex-husbands, wives or partners become stalkers.

“Most of these people are absolutely healthy from a psychiatric point of view,” says Davtyan. “They are driven by a desire to maintain power and control. When the police are contacted because of stalking, it is usually about threats from ex-husbands, and usually there is domestic violence in the past. Out of ten such divorced couples, in seven cases there will be persecution.”

If you are being followed

Lawyers are advised to contact the police in any case to inform law enforcement agencies. It is best to do this immediately to show the stalker the seriousness of his intentions.

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