All Forms of Stalking In The United States And All Over The Forms Free World
Almost all stalkers have some type of mental or emotional problem. Stalkers will go across town, country, or even to different continents in order to continue their stalking. Stable people simply do not continue, often in the face of years of rejection, to pursue someone.
Stalkers, no matter what or how severe their mental disorder, can usually be sorted into one of three major groupings: Simple Obsession, Love Obsession, and Other.
I. Simple Obsession Stalkers
These stalkers have previously been involved in an intimate relationship with their victims. Often the victim has attempted to call off the relationship but the stalker simply refuses to accept it. These stalkers suffer from personality disorders, including being emotionally immature, extremely jealous, insecure, have low self-esteem and quite often feel powerless without the relationship.
While reconciliation is the goal, this stalker believes they must have a specific person back or they will not survive.
The stalker of former spouses or intimate partners, are often domineering and abusive to their partners during the relationship and use this domination as a way to bolster their own low self esteem. The control the abusers exert over their partners gives them a feeling of power they can't find elsewhere. They try to control every aspect of their partner's lives. Their worst fear is losing people over whom they have control.
When they realize this fear as the relationship finally does end, the stalker suddenly believes that his/her life is destroyed. Their total identity and feelings of self-worth are tied up in the power experienced through their domineering and abusive relationship. Without this control, they feel that they will have no self-worth and no identity. They will become nobodies and in desperation they begin stalking, trying to regain their partner and the basis of their power.
It is this total dependence on their partner for identity and feelings of self worth that makes these stalkers so very dangerous. They will often go to any length and stop at nothing to get their partner back. If they can't have the people over whom they can exert dominance and total control, their lives are truly not worth living. Unfortunately, along with becoming suicidal, they also often want to kill the intimate partner who have left them.
Stalking does not always begin with violence or trying to terrorize, it usually starts with, "Can I just talk to you or meet with you one last time?" " If you just talk to me I'll leave you alone." According to experts, "He wants her back, and she won't come back." Everything escalates from there and sometimes he snaps and assaults or kills her. In his mind, he makes the decision, "If I can't have you, no one else will." When he says this, he is attempting to cover his fear that she'll meet another man and leave him. Far too often, the police find that these stalkers follow through on their threats, killing the victims and then many times committing suicide. For them, death is better than having to face humiliation of the stalking victim leaving them for someone else, and the humiliation of having to face their own powerlessness.
II. Love Obsession Stalkers
These are individuals who become obsessed with or fixed on a person with whom they have had no intimate or close relationship. The victim may be a friend, a business acquaintance, a person met only once, or even a complete stranger.
Love obsession stalkers believe that a special, often mystical, relationship exists between them and their victims. Any contact with the victim becomes a positive reinforcement of this relationship and any wavering (even the slightest) of the victim from an absolute "NO" is seen as an invitation to continue the pursuit.
These stalkers will often read sexual meanings into neutral responses from the victim. They are often loners with an emotional void in their lives. Any contact with the object of the infatuation, even negative, helps fill this void. Failed relationships are the rule among these individuals.
Many suffer from erotomania. They have the delusion that they are loved intensely by another person, usually a person of higher socioeconomic status than them or an unattainable public figure. They are totally convinced that the stalking victim loves them dearly and truly, and would return their affection except for some external influence.
During questioning, police find that most love obsession stalkers have fantasized a complete relationship with the person they are stalking. When they attempt to act out this fantasy in real life, they expect the victim to return the affection. When no affection is returned, the stalker often reacts with threats and intimidation. When the threats and intimidation don't accomplish what they hoped, the stalker can often become violent and even deadly.
III. Other Stalkers
Some stalkers harass their victim not out of love but out of hate. Occasionally, stalking becomes a method of revenge for some misdeed against the stalker, real or imagined. Stalking can also be used as a means of protest. This is the smallest group, but this type of stalking, for revenge and protest, can be especially dangerous. There have been several killings by stalkers at abortion clinics, and mass murders around the country by employees who have been fired and then returned to stalk and eventually kill those who have fired them.
IV. Additional Information
Intimate Partner Stalkers
Once the relationship ends, this group of stalkers, fearing they will lose their identity and self-worth, often become desperate to re-establish the dominance and control they wielded during the relationship. If they find this isn't possible they can become suicidal, homicidal or both. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics report Female Victims of Violent Crime, in 29 % of all violence against women by a lone offender the perpetrator was an intimate. Women are about seven times more likely than men to experience violence committed by an intimate, and female victims of violence by an intimate are more often injured seriously enough to require medical attention than are females victimized by a stranger. Intimate partner stalking can end in much worse than just injury. It can end in death if the stalkers cannot regain the control they so intensely and desperately need.
Many intimate partner stalkers who have spent years dominating and controlling their partner simply cannot face the prospect that the people they've controlled for so long have successfully gotten away -- have proven themselves stronger than the stalkers. One former stalker wrote in his diary, "I couldn't live with myself thinking or knowing she had won, or she got me. No! This is war." Tragically his victim was murdered.
According to Linden Gross in her book To Have or to Harm, "We all have problems with rejection, especially if we're emotionally invested in a relationship. For the majority of us, however, rejection doesn't imply devastation. Even though the pain, however excruciating, our identities stay intact, our sense of self-worth bruised, perhaps, but still operational. This isn't so, however, for intimate partner stalkers. Because of their need for total control over someone, when the relationship breaks up their world is devastated. Their personality disorders won't allow them to accept rejection."
While this kind of stalker may or may not have psychological disorders, all clearly have personality disorders. A few of these personality disorders, according to the National Victim Center include:
1. Socially maladjusted and inept
2. Emotionally immature
3. Often subject to feeling of powerlessness
4. Unable to succeed in relationship by socially acceptable means
5. Jealousy bordering paranoia
6. Extremely insecure about themselves
7. Often suffering from low self esteem
According to experts, intimate partner stalkers can be the most dangerous types of stalker because they often have a history of violence against their victim, and consequently feel totally uninhibited about using more or heightened violence in an effort to get them back. The stalkers know that violence has worked for them in the past, and so they have no reason to believe that it won't work again. Also, intimate partner stalkers know their victim well: their family, their place of employment, their recreational activities, and so forth. They know where to find their victim.
Intimate partner stalkers, because of the dominance and control once held over their victim, often have the mind set that the victim is their property, to do with as they wish, and to reclaim in any way they see fit. And, believing that their lives won't be worth living if they can't recapture the victim as their property, they often feel they have nothing to lose by using extreme measures. Consequently, these stalkers feel totally justified in doing just about anything in an effort to regain control over the victim. Since the stalker believes the victim belongs to them, they show no regard for restraining orders, and may instead be infuriated by them, feeling they are being denied their God-given rights.
One victim best sums it up. "When you know a person is capable of anything, and he also feels he has nothing to lose, you'd better be scared of him. He'll kill you."
Researches have now found that intimate partner stalking often follows a three-phase cycle.
Phase One - The Tension Building Phase
This can include such things as making hundreds of telephone calls and sending dozens of letters, showing up wherever the victim is, casual surveillance of the victim, and following the victim wherever they go. However, when these actions don't accomplish what the stalker wants, the tension builds, and eventually the stalker may begin making threats, vandalizing property, and instituting more forceful attempts to make the victim give in to their demands.
Phase Two - The Violence Phase
Once the stalker realizes that their efforts in the first phase have failed, they often resort to violence against not only the victim but also the victim's friends, family and often times co-workers. This can include angry face-to-face confrontations, physical assaults (including rape), kidnapping, and in extreme cases murder.
Phase Three - The Hearts and Flowers Phase
The stalker reverts back to the less violent tactics, and will often either beg forgiveness for the violence or appear to abandon the stalking altogether. Unfortunately, any cessation is usually only temporary. This pause in the stalking can actually be an extremely dangerous period because many times the victim falsely believes that the nightmare is over, and consequently lets down his/her guard. They then can be caught unprepared and unprotected when the stalking suddenly begins again, often violently.
An important point for a victim or potential victim of intimate partner stalking to remember about this cycle of stalking is that it is not uniform or predictable. Stalkers can move through the phases fairly rapidly, at times changing from being loving to brutal in only seconds. For other stalkers, it may take years to move from one phase to another, and some may never move out of the first phase. Most important, because a stalker may cycle from being a minor nuisance to a physical threat extremely rapidly, intimate partner stalking victims must always be on guard.
Intimate partner stalkers are typically known as the guy who "just can't let go." These are most often men who refuse to believe that a relationship has really ended. Often, other people - even the victims - feel sorry for them. But they shouldn't. Studies show that the vast majority of these stalkers are not sympathetic, lonely people who are still hopelessly in love but were in fact emotionally abusive and controlling during the relationship. Many have criminal histories unrelated to stalking. Well over half of stalkers fall into this "former intimate partner" category.
In these types of cases, the victim may, unwittingly encourage the stalker by trying to "let him down easy," or agreeing to talk to him or meet with him just one more time.Victims need to understand that there is no reasoning with a stalker. Just the fact that stalking - an unreasonable activity - has already begun illustrates this fact. When the victim says, "I don't want a relationship now", the stalker hears, "She'll want me again tomorrow." When she says, "I just need some space," he hears, "If I just let her go out with her friends, she'll come back." "It's just not working out," is heard as "We can make it work out." In blatant words, the only thing to say to the stalker is "NO".Do not give explanations, do not give time limits and do not give the stalker any room to maneuver.
As a victim you should say "NO" once and only once. And then, never say anything to him/her again. If a stalker can't have his victim's love, he'll take his/her hatred or her fear. The worst thing in the world for the stalker is to be ignored. Example: "Think of a small child. If they are not getting the attention they want, they will act out and misbehave because even negative attention is better than none at all." Former intimate partner stalkers have their entire sense of self-worth caught up in the fact that, "she loves me." Therefore, any evidence to the contrary is seen as merely an inconvenience to overcome. Since giving up the victim means giving up the stalkers self-worth, they are very unlikely to do so. Say "NO" only once - Don't help the stalker hang on.
Casual Acquaintance Stalker
Stalking does not have to involve an intimate relationship. The relationship can be as minor as a casual interaction, such as a momentary conversation, a quick lunch together in a crowded restaurant, or a smile across a room. These can all be interpreted as a romantic encounter by a potential stalker. A large number of people every year become stalking victims because they felt sorry for someone and showed him or her compassion. Befriending or even just being polite to a potential stalker can be exceedingly dangerous. Stalkers often see any acts of kindness as a sign of the true love that they are convinced exists between them and their victims.
Very little interaction is needed with a potential casual acquaintance stalker in order to trigger a long-term stalking episode. Attempting to appease or ignore a stalker simply will not work. Restraining and protective orders, though important and occasionally helpful, often don't work. The stalker's belief that they and their victim(s) are meant for each other or, that "It is in the stars for them to be together" often overrides any fear these stalkers might have of the consequences of violating restraining or protective orders.
How dangerous can a stalker be who only knows the victim casually? Very dangerous. According to the Bureau of Justice, statistics report that 36% of all aggravated assaults against women in the country are committed by acquaintances or friends, as are 53% of the rapes and sexual assaults and 22% of homicides. Many of these women had been stalked beforehand by these acquaintances or friends.
A very real danger with being stalked is that the victim must still work. Finding a new place to live for a while may be difficult, but finding a new job or occupation, particularly when the victim has extensive education and training or has worked at their present job for a long time and accrued considerable seniority, just isn't easy, especially when the victim isn't sure just how dangerous the stalker is or can be. Very few people will make such a radical life change as getting a new occupation because of threats by a casual acquaintance. Subsequently, a stalker knows they can go to the victim's place of employment and likely find them there. According to a former stalking victim, "A stalker knows if they can't catch you at home, they can catch you at work."
While it is tragic and disturbing that some people can begin their obsessive stalking on as small an initiative as the victim appearing to be kind and polite to them, this does not mean that people should stop being kind and polite to others. It does mean, however, that you should be on the lookout for the signs of a potential stalker and take action immediately if you believe you may become a stalking victim.
While being stalked by someone with whom the victim has had an intimate relationship, or by someone known to the victim who has perhaps attempted unsuccessfully to establish an intimate relationship, is frightening enough, at least the victim knows who the stalker is, what he or she is capable of, and what to likely expect. Because the stalker is unknown to them, the stalking takes on a much more frightening feeling. Because the stalker is unknown to the victim, the victim has no idea who to be on the lookout for, who to be careful of or around, and who to speak to and who to avoid.
Although the danger level connected with stranger stalking may not in actuality be higher, the stress level most certainly is. Most experts will tell you that stranger stalking can be one of the most terrifying of all stalking situations as experts don't know how to deal with it.
Often a stranger stalker suffers from erotomania; a mental disorder that causes the stalker to believe another person is in love with him or her. Due to this disorder, a stranger stalker may fantasize either that they have had an intimate relationship with their victim or that their victim truly loves them and wants to have an intimate relationship with them.
According to Dr. Park Diets, "Erotomania is directed at both men and women, but more men act on the delusion."
Victim find themselves constantly asking, could the stalker be the stranger across the street, the person standing behind them in the store, or the driver of the car that seems to be following them? The victim has no idea who the stalker is, and also no idea what might happen. This unpredictability and uncertainty can be psychologically and emotionally crippling. The victim doesn't know the stalker's tendency for violence, what the stalker wants or more important, what the stalker plans to do.
Victims of stranger stalking often ask themselves, why me? They search through their memories for any event that might have provoked this reaction from a stranger. Many times the victims of stranger stalking are simply selected at random.
Occasionally victims of stranger stalking may eventually find out who their stalkers are. Often, the stalker is completely unknown to them, sometimes they are just nodding acquaintances, and sometimes they are individuals who have had chance encounters with the victim.
With stalking incidents involving former intimate partners or even former acquaintances the victim knows the identity of the person they are dealing with. This is not the case with a stranger stalker.
What can you do against a stranger stalking you? You can't ask the stalker's family to intercede, you can't have a friend or intimate partner threaten the stalker, and you'll have a hard time getting help from the criminal justice system. You will often hear victims say that "officers always have a logical explanation and they think I'm the one who is delusional and crazy. Let them live in my shoes for a week and then let them draw their own conclusion. How can I get a restraining order on someone when I don't even know who it is?"
Stranger stalking usually doesn't end with the violence of many intimate partner stalkings. However, they are no less terrifying and disrupting. Being stalked by a stranger can affect the way a person looks at others and at life in general. Victims of stranger stalking often feel they can no longer smile at or be friendly with strangers or casual acquaintances and come to question the meaning of smiles given by others. They stop being outgoing instead they become standoffish and self-protective. They discover that their whole lives are changed.
They may have major mental illnesses like schizophrenia, manic-depression or erotomania. What they all have in common is some false belief that keeps them tied to their victims. Frequently they have had little, if any contact with their victims.
In erotomania, the stalker's delusional belief is that the victim loves him/her. This type of stalker actually believes that he is having a relationship with his victim, even though they might never have met.
"The woman stalking David Letterman, the stalker who killed actress Rebecca Schaeffer and the man who stalked Madonna are all examples of erotomanic stalkers."
Another type of delusional stalker might believe that he is destined to be with someone, and that if he only pursues her hard enough and long enough, she will come to love him as he loves her. These stalkers know they are not having a relationship with their victim, but firmly believe that they will some day. John Hinckley Jr.'s obsession with Jodi Foster is an example of this type of stalker.
The typical profile of a delusional stalker is that of an unmarried and socially immature loner, who is unable to establish or sustain a close relationship with others. They rarely date and have had few, if any, sexual relationships. Since at the same time they are both threatened by and yearn for closeness, they often pick a victim who is unattainable in some way; perhaps she is married, or has been the stalker's therapist, clergyman, doctor or teacher.
Those in the helping professions are particularly vulnerable to delusional stalkers, because for someone who already has difficulty separating reality from fantasy, the kindness shown by the soon-to-be victim, the only person who has ever treated the stalker with warmth, is blown out of proportion into a delusion of intimacy.
What these stalkers cannot attain in reality is achieved through fantasy and it is for that reason that the delusion seems to be so difficult to relinquish. Even an imaginary love is better than no love at all.
Delusional stalkers have almost always come from a background which was either emotionally barren or severely abusive. They grow up having a very poor sense of their own identities. This, coupled with a predisposition toward psychosis, leads them to strive for satisfaction through another, yearning to merge with someone who is almost always perceived to be of a high status or very socially desirable. It is as if this stalker says, "Gee. If she loves me, I must not be so bad."
Although many victims of stalking may feel that their stalkers have chosen them because they represent something unique and desirable, and that the stalker is fixated on and possessed with only them, this often isn't the case. Detectives often find that if a complete background investigation is made into the stalkers past there are often other cases of prior stalkings.
What percentage of stalkers are serial stalkers? Experts say that more than half of the stalkers in America have been involved in prior incidents of stalking. Psychiatrists cannot accurately predict when the behavior will stop or re-occur but they know that about two-thirds of those showing obsessive behavior have had prior episodes.
Far too often, a look in into the past actions of a stalker can be a frightening glimpse into how the present stalking will end.
Frustrated serial stalkers don't have to have had an intimate relationship before they begin stalking their victim, and they may even stalk more than one victim of the same household at the same time.
Although stalking victims may desperately want to know why they were chosen as the victim, what they might have done to trigger a stalker's obsession with them, often, they find the answer is nothing. They are just one of a serial stalker's many victims. These stalkers are simply following a pattern of behavior they have practiced for years. No matter what the reason or cause for the stalking, victims should be cautioned that serial stalkers in particular are very disturbed individuals.
False Stalking / False Victims
False victims, as they are sometimes known, use a variety of situations to attract attention to themselves. In some cases they may harass their own family and friends in order to fabricate false evidence or witness reports. This type of stalker firmly believes that he or she is the real victim.
In a sense there is a victim - the perpetrator. Why victimize yourself? Perhaps the person noticed how kind and considerate others were to them, when they presented themselves as a victim some time in the past. In short - the perpetrator/victim takes immense pleasure from being cared for and being the center of attention. One very common trait of this type of stalker is to file false police report(s) against the "real stalking victim."
These stalkers are frequently delusional and irrational. When presented with the facts, this type of stalker will rationalize and manipulate everything he can and ignore even a direct question, in order to preserve his fantasy of being the victim. He will initiate conflicts and then twist them in his favor in an attempt to gain positive attention for himself. He feels very inferior to the victim whom he admires greatly, although he will rarely admit this to be true. In reality, this kind of stalker suffers from a severe lack of self-esteem.
This form of stalker, believing himself to be inferior, wronged or rejected by the ones they admire the most, begin harassing, following the victim, spreading tales, keeping tabs, and in many instances plot revenge. The primary motive is to bring the victim down by any means he can.
Another trait that is showing up more and more in this type of stalking is Munchhausen (munch-how-zen) syndrome or in layman terms "The Munch Bunch." This is the name given to patients who fake illness or obtain hospital treatment in order to get sympathy from family, friends, and most often the actual victim's attention. These individuals are a considerable waste of medical resources. Hospitals will often hold a file on these people in an attempt to recognize them before they are unwittingly admitted for unnecessary treatment. The major problem is that they skip from hospital to hospital and doctor to doctor.
Time after time you'll hear a victim say, "The hospital called, he attempted suicide or he's having a heart attack because I wouldn't meet with him." Far too often these individuals know how to "fake" illnesses or even go to the point of attempted suicide but knowing just how far to go before it becomes life threatening. All to get attention!
Source: “Violent Attachment, “by J. Reid Meloy, 1992, Jason Aronson Inc. Publishing.
Psychiatrists do not know how prevalent delusional erotomania is, but recently they’ve come to believe it is not as rare as originally thought.
Also called Clerambault Syndrome, after the French psychiatrist who first identified it in 1921, the disorder is diagnosed far more often in women. The patient becomes fixated on a person and despite rebuffs, becomes convinced there is a romantic relationship.
It is most common in unmarried women who have few social skills, consider themselves unattractive and are employed in low-paying jobs. They often are lonely and withdrawn.
Men with the disorder are more likely to become violent than women, particularly if they have a history of substance abuse or mental illness.
The person who is the object of the obsession often is more socially prominent and sometimes is a higher-paid colleague. In some cases the person is a celebrity.
What makes this type of stalker dangerous is their tendency to objectify their victims. This means they will view a victim not as a human being, but as an object that they alone must possess and control.
The perpetrator may become aware of their victim through various forms of the media (cinema, television, radio, newspapers, etc.) and establishes a delusional fantasy in which they have a special or unique relationship with the victim. These fantasies can be of an extreme sexual nature – sometimes reflected in the way the stalker attempts to communicate with the victim. The stalker believes the victim is communicating with him or her using a secret code that only they know the meaning of. Due to the nature of this type of stalker most victims will be the rich and famous. In some cases the victim may simply look like someone famous.
Compiled by the National Center for Victims of Crime
18 U.S.C. § 2261A was originally enacted on September 23, 1996. In November 2000, the federal statute was amended as part of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 2000.
To report a violation of this federal law, contact the FBI or U.S. Attorney's Office in your district.
18 U.S.C. § 2261A1
Whoever (1) travels in interstate or foreign commerce or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, or enters or leaves Indian country, with the intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate another person, and in the course of, or as a result of, such travel places that person in reasonable fear of the death of, or serious bodily injury to, that person, a member of the immediate family (as defined in section 115) of that person, or the spouse or intimate partner of that person; or (2) with the intent (A) to kill or injure a person in another State or tribal jurisdiction or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States; or (B) to place a person in another State or tribal jurisdiction or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, in reasonable fear of the death of, or serious bodily injury to (i) that person; (ii) a member of the immediate family (as defined in section 115) of that person; or (iii) a spouse or intimate partner of that person, uses the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce to engage in a course of conduct that places that person in reasonable fear of the death of, or serious bodily injury to, any of the persons described in clauses (i) through (iii), shall be punished as provided in §2261(b).
§2261A(1) makes it a federal crime to travel across state, tribal or international lines to stalk someone. The stalker must have the intent to kill, injure, harass, or intimidate the victim, who must be placed in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury. The victim's family members spouse or intimate partners are also protected.
§2261A(2) makes it a federal crime to stalk someone across state, tribal or international lines, using regular mail, e-mail, or the Internet (i.e., cyberstalking). The stalker must have the intent to kill or injure the victim, or to place the victim, a family member, or a spouse or intimate partner of the victim in fear of death or serious bodily injury.
§2261A(1) and (2) make it a federal crime to stalk someone within the special or maritime jurisdiction of the U.S. This includes federal lands such as national parks and military bases.
If you have any questions about the interpretation of these provisions, contact the U.S. Attorney's Office in your district.
Key Definitions "Spouse or Intimate Partner" - (See 18 U.S.C. §2266(7)(A)(ii)) A spouse or former spouse of the target of the stalking; A person who shares a child in common with the target of the stalking; A person who cohabits or has cohabited as a spouse with the target of the stalking; or Any other person similarly situated to a spouse who is protected by the domestic and family violence laws of the state or tribal jurisdiction where the injury occurred or the victim resides.
"Course of Conduct" - (See 18 U.S.C. §2266(2)) A pattern of conduct composed of two or more acts, evidencing a continuity of purpose.
"Serious Bodily Injury" - (See 18 U.S.C. §2119(2) and 18 U.S.C. §1365(g)(3) and (4) Bodily injury (see below) which involves (A) a substantial risk of death; (B) extreme physical pain; (C) protracted and obvious disfigurement; or (D) protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty. This includes any conduct that, if the conduct occurred in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States would violate section 2241 (aggravated sexual abuse) or 2242 (sexual abuse) of this title.
"Bodily Injury" - (See U.S.C. §1365(g)(4)) (A) a cut, abrasion, bruise, or disfigurement; (B) physical pain; (C) illness; (D) impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty; or (E) any other injury to the body, no matter how temporary.
"Immediate Family" - (See 18 U.S.C. §115(c)(2)) Immediate family includes the individual's spouse, parents, siblings, children, or any other person living in the individual's household related by blood or marriage.
Note: This section was not developed by E.S.I.A. The author or sponsoring organization granted E.S.I.A. permission for placement on this site. Points of view in the above document are those of the author(s).
Penalties for Interstate Stalking, Interstate Domestic Violence, Interstate Violation of A Protection Order
Compiled by the National Center for Victims of Crime
18 U.S.C. §2261(b)
Offenders will be fined, imprisoned
(1) for life or any term of years, if death of the victim results;
(2) for not more than 20 years if permanent disfigurement of life threatening bodily injury to the victim results;
(3) for not more than 10 years, if serious bodily injury to the victim results or if the offender uses a dangerous weapon during the offense;
(4) as provided for the applicable conduct under chapter 109A (18U.S.C. § 2241 et seq.) if the offense would constitute an offense under chapter 109A (without regard to whether the offense was committed in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States or in a Federal prison); and
(5) for not more than 5 years, in any other case, or both fined and imprisoned.
Penalties for violating 18 U.S.C. § 2261, §2261, 2261A or 2262 are either a fine, imprisonment, or both. There are no minimum sentences, but there are maximums based on the extent of the victim's injuries. The maximum sentences are listed below along with the corresponding injury. Life imprisonment if victim dies; 20 years if victim is permanently disfigured; 20 years if victims suffers life threatening bodily injury; 10 years if victim suffers serious bodily injury; Penalties set forth in Chapter 109A (18 U.S.C. § 2241 et seq. - sex offenses) if offender's conduct meets the elements of any of those offenses (conduct does not have to occur in federal prison or within special/maritime jurisdiction of U.S.); or 5 years for any other situation.
In addition, the maximum sentence is 10 years if the offender uses a dangerous weapon.
Sentencing Enhancements, Upward Departure, and Additional Firearm Charges
Sentencing Enhancements - (See 18 U.S.S.G. §2A6.2. Stalking or Domestic Violence.)
Under (a), base level is 14. Under (b)(1), offense increases 2 to 4 levels if it involves one or more of the following aggravating factors: bodily injury; violation of a court protection order; possession or threatened use of a dangerous weapon; or pattern of stalking the same victim.
Upward Departure to Address Severity of the Crime - (See Application Note 5 of the Commentary to 18 U.S.S.G. §2A6.2)
An upward departure motion may be granted if sentencing enhancement under (b)(1) does not adequately reflect the extent or severity of the defendant's conduct. "For example, an upward departure may be warranted if the defendant stalked the victim on many occasions over a prolonged period of time."
Additional Charges for Use of Firearms - (See 18 U.S.C. §924(c) (1)
If the defendant uses or possess a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence for which he/she is convicted, charges under §924 may be filed and the following penalties may be available: 5 years or more; 7 year or more if firearm is brandished; or 10 years or more if firearm is discharged.
Specific Firearms - If certain types of firearms are possessed or used, the following penalties may be imposed: 10 years or more (25 multiple convictions) for short-barreled rifles or other listed firearms; or 30 years or more (life for multiple convictions) for machine guns or destructive devices, or weapons equipped with silencers or firearms mufflers.
Note: This section was not developed by E.S.I.A. The author or sponsoring organization granted E.S.I.A. permission for placement on this site. Points of view in the above document are those of the author(s).
Interstate Stalking Title 18, '2261A
Whoever travels across a State line or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States with the intent to injure or harass another person, and in the course of, or as a result of, such travel places that person in reasonable fear of the death of, or serious bodily injury (as defined in section 1365 (g) (3) of this title) to, that person or a member of that person's immediate family (as defined in section 115 of this title) shall be punished in section 2261 of this title.
Interstate Domestic Violence Title 18, '2261
a. Offenses Crossing a state line. A person who travels across a State line or enters or leaves Indian country with the intent to injure, harass, or intimidate that person's spouse or intimate partner, and who, in the course of or as a result of such travel, intentionally commits a crime of violence and thereby causes bodily injury to such spouse or intimate partner, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).Causing the crossing of a state line. A person who causes a spouse or intimate partner to cross a State line or to enter or leave Indian country by force, coercion, duress, or fraud and, in the course or as a result of that conduct, intentionally commits a crime of violence and thereby causes bodily injury to the person's spouse or intimate partner, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).
b. Penalties. A person who violates this section or section 2261A shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for life or any term of years, if death of the victim results; for not more than 20 years if permanent disfigurement or life threatening bodily injury to the victim results; for not more than 10 years, if serious bodily injury to the victim results or if the offender uses a dangerous weapon during the offense; as provided for the applicable conduct under chapter 109A if the offense would constitute an offense under chapter 109A (without regard to whether the offense was committed in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States or in a Federal prison); and for not more than 5 years, in any other case, or both fined and imprisoned.
Interstate Violation of Protection Order C Title 18, '2262
1. Crossing a State line. A person who travel across a State line or enters or leaves Indian country with the intent to engage in conduct that -
(A) (i) violates the portion of a protection order that involves protection against credible threats of violence, repeated harassment, or bodily injury to the person or persons for whom the protection order was issued; or
(ii) violates this subparagraph if the conduct occurred in the jurisdiction in which the order was issued; and
(B) subsequently engages in such conduct, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).
2. Causing the crossing of a state line. A person who causes a spouse or intimate partner to cross a State line or to enter or leave Indian country by force, coercion, duress, or fraud, and, in the course or as a result of that conduct, intentionally commits an act that injures the person's spouse or intimate partner in violation of a valid protection order issued by a State shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).
b. Penalties. A person who violates this section shall be fined under this title, imprisoned -
1. for life or any term of years, if death of the victim results;
2. for not more than 20 years if permanent disfigurement or life threatening bodily injury to the victim results;
3. or not more than 10 years, if serious bodily injury to the victim results or if the offender uses a dangerous weapon during the offense;
4. as provided for the applicable conduct under chapter 109A if the offense would constitute an offense under chapter 109A (without regard to whether the offense was committed in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States or in a Federal prison); and
5. for not more than 5 years, in any other case, or both fined and imprisoned.
The Crime of Stalking
Caution: This page is intended for educational purposes only.Before implementing any intervention, it is important to have an experienced threat management team perform a risk assessment, as each stalking situation is unique.
A recent study by the National Institute of Justice found that stalking was far more prevalent than anyone had imagined: 8% of American women and 2% of American men will be stalked in their lifetimes. That’s 1.4 million American stalking victims every year. The majority of stalkers have been in relationships with their victims, but a significant percentage either never met their victims, or were just acquaintances - neighbors, friends or co-workers. Types of Stalkers
There is tremendous confusion in the stalking research literature about how to classify stalkers. Everyone uses different terms. For the purposes of this web site, we have broken down types of stalkers into three broad categories: Intimate partner stalkers, delusional stalkers and vengeful stalkers. Obviously, there is overlap. Since studies show that the overwhelming number of stalkers are men and the overwhelming number of their victims are women, we will be referring to stalkers and their victims accordingly. The excellent book I Know You Really Love Me, by Doreen Orion MD, delves into much greater detail and provides extensive case histories about each of these types of stalkers.
Intimate partner stalkers are typically known as the guy who "just can’t let go." These are most often men who refuse to believe that a relationship has really ended. Often, other people - even the victims - feel sorry for them. But they shouldn’t. Studies show that the vast majority of these stalkers are not sympathetic, lonely people who are still hopelessly in love, but were in fact emotionally abusive and controlling during the relationship. Many have criminal histories unrelated to stalking. Well over half of stalkers fall into this "former intimate partner" category.
In these types of stalking cases, the victim may, in fact, unwittingly encourage the stalker by trying to "let him down easy," or agreeing to talk to him "just one more time." What victims need to understand is that there is no reasoning with stalkers. Just the fact that stalking - an unreasonable activity - has already begun, illustrates this fact. When the victim says, "I don’t want a relationship now," the stalker hears, "She’ll want me again, tomorrow." When she says, "I just need some space," he hears, "If I just let her go out with her friends, she’ll come back." "It’s just not working out," is heard as "we can make it work out." In other words, the only thing to say to the stalker is "no." No explanations, no time limits, no room to maneuver.
A victim should say "no" once and only once. And then, never say anything to him again. If a stalker can’t have his victim’s love, he’ll take her hatred or her fear. The worst thing in the world for him is to be ignored. Think of little children: If they’re not getting the attention they want, they’ll act out and misbehave because even negative attention is better than none at all. Former intimate partner stalkers have their entire sense of self-worth caught up in the fact that, "she loves me." Therefore, any evidence to the contrary is seen as merely an inconvenience to overcome. Since giving up his victim means giving up his self-worth, he is very unlikely to do so. Don’t help him hang on.
Delusional stalkers frequently have had little, if any, contact with their victims. They may have major mental illnesses like schizophrenia, manic-depression or erotomania. What they all have in common is some false belief that keeps them tied to their victims. In erotomania, the stalker’s delusional belief is that the victim loves him. This type of stalker actually believes that he is having a relationship with his victim, even though they might never have met. The woman stalking David Letterman, the stalker who killed actress Rebecca Schaeffer and the man who stalked Madonna are all examples of erotomanic stalkers.
Another type of delusional stalker might believe that he is destined to be with someone, and that if he only pursues her hard enough and long enough, she will come to love him as he loves her. These stalkers know they are not having a relationship with their victims, but firmly believe that they will some day. John Hinckley Jr.’s obsession with Jodi Foster is an example of this type of stalker.
The typical profile of delusional stalkers is that of an unmarried and socially immature loner, who is unable to establish or sustain close relationships with others. They rarely date and have had few, if any, sexual relationships. Since at the same time they are both threatened by and yearn for closeness, they often pick victims who are unattainable in some way; perhaps she is married, or has been the stalker’s therapist, clergyman, doctor or teacher. Those in the helping professions are particularly vulnerable to delusional stalkers, because for someone who already has difficulty separating reality from fantasy, the kindness shown by the soon-to-be victim, the only person who has ever treated the stalker with warmth, is blown out of proportion into a delusion of intimacy. What these stalkers cannot attain in reality is achieved through fantasy and it is for this reason that the delusion seems to be so difficult to relinquish: Even an imaginary love is better than no love at all.
These delusional stalkers have almost always come from a background which was either emotionally barren or severely abusive. They grow up having a very poor sense of their own identities. This, coupled with a predisposition toward psychosis, leads them to strive for satisfaction through another, yearning to merge with someone who is almost always perceived to be of a higher status (doctors, lawyers, teachers) or very socially desirable (celebrities). It is as if this stalker says, "Gee. If she loves me, I must not be so bad." As Dean Martin compellingly crooned what could be considered the delusional stalker’s anthem: "You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You." It is not unusual for this type of stalker to "hear" the soothing voice of his victim, or believe that she is sending him cryptic messages through others.
Some studies show that delusional stalkers are the most tenacious of all. Erotomanic delusions themselves last an average of ten years. How is this possible when the stalker has had little if any contact with his victim? As if drawn from the National Organ Donor Registry, the victim becomes the perfect match, with the potential to save the stalker’s life. When the victim says "no," he rationalizes it away, believing that, "her husband made her get that restraining order, she really loves me," or "her agent told her it would be bad for her career if we dated, but she really loves me." Therefore, as with every type of stalker, it is imperative that victims have no contact.
The final category of stalker is not lovelorn. He is the vengeful stalker. These stalkers become angry with their victims over some slight, real or imagined. Politicians, for example, get many of these types of stalkers who become angry over some piece of legislation or program the official sponsors. But, disgruntled ex-employees can also stalk, whether targeting their former bosses, co-workers or the entire company. Some of these angry stalkers are psychopaths, i.e. people without conscience or remorse. Some are delusional, (most often paranoid), and believe that they, in fact, are the victims. They all stalk to "get even."
Former intimate partner stalkers and delusional stalkers can become vengeful for a variety of reasons. For example, when their victims get restraining orders, or marry. Why a stalker’s anger is a very bad sign is described under what to do.
In general, for any type of stalker, the less of a relationship that actually existed prior to the stalking, the more mentally disturbed the stalker.What to Do If You Become a Stalking VictimIntroduction
If you become a victim of a stalker you must, above all, educate yourself. There are several national organizations that provide information on stalking. These are listed on our resources page. Keep tuned in to our upcoming educational events page, as well, for continually updated information.Security Precautions for Stalking Victims
Stalking victims don’t like to be called victims. They will say, "I won’t let myself be victimized," or "I’m not going to change my life because I’m being stalked." Sorry. Your life has changed. Forever. And unless you accept that, you will actually be helping the stalker. You are a crime victim. The crime happens to be stalking. You must understand that the phrase "stalking victim" says volumes about the perpetrator, but nothing about you. It does not tell us whether you stay at home in terror with sheets over the windows, or whether you’ve decided to move, or to become active to change the laws in your state. On the other hand, accepting that you are a stalking victim serves to remind you that you must, from now on, take extra precautions that others do not have to take.
Here are some basics to start with. These and other safety precautions can be found in I Know You Really Love Me:Tell the stalker "no" once and only once, and then never give him the satisfaction of a reaction again. The more you respond, the more you teach him that his actions will elicit a response. This only serves to reinforce the stalking. Get a dog. The Los Angeles Police Department’s Threat Management Unit says this is "one of the least expensive but most effective alarm systems." Block your address at DMV and Voter Registration. If you don’t, anyone can get it for the asking. This is how Robert Bardo found actress Rebecca Schaeffer and was able to murder her at her front door.Never give out your home address or telephone number. Get a post office box and use it on all correspondence. For those places that will not accept a post office box, change "PO Box" to "Apt." and leave the number. Put this address on your checks. When the stalker gets your home telephone number, don’t change it. Instead, always let an answering machine pick-up. Get a new, unlisted number, and give it to everyone who calls but the stalker. Gradually, only your stalker will be using your old number – it will become his private line. If it upsets you when he calls, put the machine in a room you don’t use. You can even have someone else monitor the tapes. This way, the stalker will think he is still getting through to you, although you will never make the mistake of picking up when he calls. Whenever you close off one avenue for a stalker, he will find another and it could easily be worse. Document everything. Even if you have decided not to go the legal route, you may change your mind. Keep answering machine tapes, letters, gifts, etc. Keep a log of drive-bys or any suspicious occurrences. Take a self-defense class. A lot of security experts don’t advise this, fearing that it gives victims a false sense of security, but we do. The best self-defense classes teach you how to become more aware of your surroundings and avoid confrontations, things that stalking victims would do well to learn. Have co-workers screen all calls and visitors. Don’t accept packages unless they were personally ordered. Remove any name or identification from reserved parking at work. Destroy discarded mail. Equip your gas tank with a locking gas cap that can be unlocked only from inside the car. Get a cell phone and keep it with you at all times, even inside your home, in case the stalker cuts your phone lines. If you think you are being followed while in your car, make four left- or right-hand turns in succession. If the car continues to follow you, drive to the nearest police station, never home or to a friend’s house. Never be afraid to sound your car horn to attract attention. Acquaint yourself with all-night stores and other public, highly populated places in your area. Consider moving if your case warrants it. No, it’s not fair, but nothing is fair about stalking. If you stay and fight through the legal system, you might get some justice, (although not necessarily your definition of it), but you almost certainly won’t get safety: There is no possibility of life imprisonment for stalkers. Research how to keep your destination secret. Stalking and victims’ organizations can help. Don’t be embarrassed and think you caused this somehow. Stalkers need no encouragement. Your shame is your stalker’s best weapon. It makes you more likely to engage him or agree to plea bargains, which are bound to be taken as sympathy and we know where that leads. Instead, tell everyone you know that you’re being stalked, from neighbors to co-workers, so that when the stalker approaches them for information about you, they will be alerted not to divulge anything and will let you know he’s been around. One young widow moved to escape her stalker, a stranger she had never really met. Yet, after finding out where she moved, he was also able to pinpoint her exact location by showing her helpful neighbors pictures he had surreptitiously taken of her and her children, telling them that he was her estranged husband and she had kidnapped the kids. Join one of the stalking victims’ support groups that are springing up all over the country. They can be invaluable resources for information in your community (such as how local law enforcement handle these cases) as well as provide essential support. See the resources section for organizations that can help. If there is no group in your area, start one. It only takes two. Tragically, we can guarantee you are not the only person being stalked in your area. Restraining Orders
Many stalking victims are routinely told to get restraining orders. When they do, they often assume that the stalking will finally end, either because the stalker will stop on his own, or because the police will stop him. Neither of these outcomes happens with any frequency.
About a quarter of stalking victims obtain restraining orders; in two-thirds of these cases, the restraining order is violated. About half of all stalking cases are reported to the police; a quarter of these result in an arrest.
Remember that a restraining order is just a piece of paper. It cannot protect you. In fact, the restraining order is just a tool police use to show intent by the perpetrator. Obviously, the police will not be there when the perpetrator violates. Only after.
In many, many instances, restraining orders only make a bad situation worse. From the stalker’s point of view, restraining orders are humiliating; the victim has just announced to the world that she wants nothing to do with him: She has stepped-up the rejection. Because of this, many perpetrators feel they must step-up the pursuit. Or they just get mad and plan to get even. There have been far too many cases of stalking victims found murdered after they had obtained restraining orders; one victim’s estranged husband knifed the order to her chest.
There are two types of stalkers that are most unlikely to respond to restraining orders: those former intimate-partner stalkers who are very invested in the relationship and delusional stalkers.
Former intimate partner stalkers are less likely to adhere to a restraining order the more they have invested in the victim. For example, a man who was married to a woman for ten years and had three children with her, follows her around until she gets a restraining order. The same man, a year later, dates another woman a few times until she becomes concerned about how controlling he is and breaks it off. In which scenario will the same man be more likely to let go: In the former instance, in which he has ten years and three kids invested, or the latter in which he has only invested a few dates?
Delusional stalkers, by definition, cannot be reasoned with. They just don’t get it and never will. A judge saying the same thing the victim did, "stay away," makes no difference. These types of stalkers have even been known to call their victims - collect from jail. Since in most cases the victim hardly knows the stalker, if at all, it might seem that these stalkers have nothing invested in the relationship. Remember, however, that in their minds, they have created an entire relationship with the power to completely transform their lonely lives. A piece of paper carrying some paltry penalty for a violation is hardly going to be a deterrent. A victim may assume that her stalker will respond to a restraining order the way she herself would. Such an assumption is, at best, terribly foolish; at worst, deadly.
An erotomanic woman stalked a department store manager who had the misfortune of smiling in her direction. She was so relentless in her pursuit that he was eventually forced to leave the country. Here is what she wrote to the man she had never, in reality, met: "My dearest beloved…I cannot live without you. You are God of God and I depend upon your kindly help to save me from this hospital. Your high learning and important status are your two most admirable qualities. Your wise breeding will make a perfect lady out of me and in you is all I need to find security in my life." How can 30 days, 6 months, even a year in jail put a dent in these sentiments and their resulting pursuit?
Does this mean that a stalking victim should not obtain a restraining order? No. It does mean, however, that a stalking victim should not obtain one routinely. Before a victim obtains a restraining order, she must research how these orders are enforced in her jurisdiction in similar cases. Seek out other stalking victims, through support groups, domestic violence programs, etc. and ask them. Find out if a restraining order violation is a misdemeanor (as it is in most jurisdictions) or a felony. If it is a misdemeanor, it is much less likely to be enforced. When is the last time you heard of someone being arrested for spitting, littering or loitering? The police will almost always tell you they will arrest. Find out if this means taking the stalker to jail or just giving him a citation.
When a restraining order violation occurs and the police just go out and talk to the stalker or even give him a citation, they have just made the situation worse. The victim would have been far better off never obtaining such an order. What the police have done in this instance is given the stalker further proof that nothing will happen to him, that he can act with impunity. After all, what more can the victim do to him than call in the full weight of the legal system; first a judge to issue the order and a police officer to enforce it? Stalker Violence
There are cases in which stalking lasts for years and years and never turns violent. Then, there are those cases that turn deadly quickly. How can you tell which cases will lead to murder?
First of all, the cases that seem harmless, may, in fact, be the most deadly. An Australian singer was stalked by an erotomanic man who went to all her performances and even followed her to social events. When her friends expressed their concerns to the young woman, she told them he was simply sad and harmless. There was no warning before he finally did approach her in the street, fatally stabbing her. Weeks before, he had confided to his mother that he was going to marry the singer. What changed his plans from marriage to murder? A newspaper article reporting her engagement to a prominent local businessman. He felt humiliated at her "betrayal" and decided to "get even."
Most stalking victims erroneously believe that if they have not been threatened, they are not in any danger. Here’s a question, then: If he really wanted to harm you, why would he warn you ahead of time? Conversely, think about the many, many times in your own life that you threatened someone and then didn’t follow through on the threat. Never happened? What about that jerk who cut you off on the highway last week? Didn’t you threaten to – well, never mind. The point is, study after study indicates that whether or not a stalker makes a threat has no bearing on whether or not he poses a threat. Of course, any threat should be taken seriously. But there are other indicators that cannot be ignored when assessing a stalker’s potential for violence.
Additionally, it is a false belief that if a perpetrator has no history of violence, the likelihood of his becoming violent in the future is small. John Hinckley, Jr., Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, Sarah Jane Moore, Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan and John Wilkes Booth, never perpetrated an act of criminal violence on another person before the attacks that made them famous. That is also true of the most recent celebrity stalker-murderers, Robert Bardo, who killed Rebecca Schaefer, and Mark David Chapman, who killed John Lennon. While a past history of violence, therefore, is an important factor in increasing the risk of future violence, the absence of such a history is completely meaningless. After all, a history of violence is notably lacking before the first time anyone perpetrates a violent act.
Factors which studies show seem to increase stalker propensity for violence are: stalking more than one victim, a past criminal history unrelated to stalking, substance abuse, access to and knowledge of weapons, high degree of obsession with the victim, great length of time stalking the victim, travelling a distance to be near the victim. Male sex is usually added to this list because, in general, men are more violent than women. However, a recent study found that, at least for former intimate partner stalkers, women stalkers were just as likely to become violent as their male counterparts.
It is also important to understand that it is not only the victim who is in danger, but those surrounding the victim, particularly if the stalker perceives them to be in his way. Madonna’s stalker tried to kill her body guard because he was seen as an obstacle to the star. Peggy Lennon’s stalker (from the singing Lennon Sisters on the Lawrence Welk Show) hunted her father down and shot him to death, believing he was an obstacle to being with Peggy, whom he called, "my true wife."
The material on this page is excerpted from the Anti-Stalking Web Site. Please visit that site for more resources and information on the crime of stalking.
Types of Stalkers and Stalking Patterns
(Note: The following 6 categories have been defined by P. E. Mullen. However, even Mullen asserts that these are not entirely mutually exclusive groupings, and the placement of an individual is a matter of judgment. Like sexual harassers, stalkers may fit more than one profile, or begin with one approach and move to another. )
The most common, persistent and intrusive of all stalkers, the rejected stalker is obsessed with someone who is a former romantic partner or friend, and who has ended their relationship with the stalker, or indicates that he or she intends to end the relationship. Depending on the responses of the victim, the stalkers goals will vary, and the rejected stalker usually struggles with the complex desire for both reconciliation and revenge. As Mullen writes, "A sense of loss could be combined with frustration, anger, jealousy, vindictiveness, and sadness in ever-changing proportions." This stalker may be very narcissistic, and may feel humiliated by the rejection. In most cases, they will have poor social skills and a poor social network. They are also the most likely to try to harm the victim in some way, and may employ intimidation and assault in their pursuit. They may become jealous if their victim enters or continues a romantic relationship with another person. A history of violence in the relationship with the partner is not uncommon.
This stalker is looking for revenge against someone who has upset them--it could be someone known to the stalker or a complete stranger. The behaviors are meant to frighten and distress the victim. The stalker views the target as being similar to those who have oppressed and humiliated them in the past, and they may view themselves as someone striking back against an oppressor. Or, the victim could be a professional believed to have cheated or abused the stalker in some way. Often irrationally paranoid, this kind of stalker can be the most obsessive and enduring. While the least likely to use physical force, the resentful stalker is the most likely to verbally threaten the victim. They may use personal threats, complaints to law enforcement and local government, property damage, theft or killing of pet, letters or notes on the victim's car or house, breaking into the victim's house or apartment, or watching the victim's movements.
The least common of all the stalkers, this is the classic sexual predator whose plan is to physically or sexually attack the victim. They are motivated purely by the desire for sexual gratification and power over their victim. This type of stalker is sexually deviant, has poor social skills, and usually has lower than normal intelligence. They usually will not have any direct contact with the victim while they are stalking them. This stalker may engage in such behaviors as surveillance of the victim, obscene phone calls, fetishism, voyeurism, sexual masochism and sadism, exhibitionism. The victim can be either someone the stalker knows, or a complete stranger.
The intimacy seeker seeks to establish an intimate, loving relationship with their victim. To them, the victim is a long sought-after soul mate, and they were meant to be together. Also, they may have the delusion that the victim is in love with them--usually called erotomania. They may interpret any kind of response from the victim as encouragement, even negative responses. This stalker may write letters, send gifts, or call their victim. They may believe the victim owes them love because of all they have invested in stalking them, and is very resistant to changing their beliefs. The intimacy seeker has an inflated sense of entitlement, and if they recognize they are being rejected, this stalker may become threatening, or may try to harm the victim in some way, sometimes using violence. (In this way, they may become a rejected stalker, see above.) This stalker may become jealous if their victim enters or continues a romantic relationship with another person. After the rejected stalker, the intimacy seeker is the most persistent type of stalker. They are usually unresponsive to legal sanctions, viewing them as challenges to overcome that demonstrate their love for the victim.
The Incompetent Suitor desires a romantic or intimate relationship with the victim but is impaired in their social and courting skills. This stalker may be very narcissistic, and cut off from victim's feelings (lack of empathy). The incompetent believes that anyone should be attracted to them. Typically, this stalker will repeatedly ask for dates, or call on the phone, even after being rejected. They may attempt physical contact by trying hold the victim's hand or kiss the victim, however, the will not become physically violent or threatening. The incompetent suitor is less persistent than others, and is likely to have stalked numerous others in the past, and will probably do so in the future. They will quickly stop stalking if threatened with legal action or after receiving counseling.
Erotomaniac and Morbidly Infatuated
This stalker believes that the victim is in love with them. They believe this even though the victim has done nothing to suggest it is true, and may have made statements to the contrary. The erotomaniac reinterprets what their victim says and does to support the delusion, and is convinced that the imagined romance will eventually become a permanent union. This stalker may suffer from acute paranoia, and typically chooses a victim of higher social status. They will repeatedly try to approach and communicate with their supposed lover, and is typically unresponsive to threats of legal action of any kind. Without psychological treatment, this stalker is likely to continue with their activities.
Cyberstalking and Cyberstalkers
Cyberstalking is an extension of the physical act of stalking; however, the behavior occurs using electronic mediums, such as the Internet and computer sypware. Someone who is physically stalking an individual may employ cyberstalking as another means to pursue, harass, or force contact. Or, cyberstalking may be the sole means of surveillance and pursuit of the victim. The stalker may join forums they know their target frequents, and pose as someone else in an attempt to contact their target, or they may contact other members to get information about the target or defame their character. They may use spyware to access their target's computer and the personal information contained within. Given the vast distances that the Internet spans, a "pure" cyberstalker will never move beyond electronic mediums and into physical stalking. Still, this does not mean that the behavior is any less distressing, frightening, or damaging, and a cyberstalker's motives can fit any of the categories described above. Moreover, given the ability of individuals to ‘mask’ their identity when using the Internet, linking the harassment to one particular individual can be difficult. Programs that mask IP (Internet Protocol) addresses, and anonymous remailers are merely two examples that hinder the identification of the stalker and their (digital) location.
Who Becomes a Stalker
Stalkers are usually isolated and lonely, coming from the "disadvantaged" of our society; however, a stalker can occupy any place in our entire social spectrum. Often, the stalking may be triggered by a significant trauma or loss in the life of the perpetrator, usually within at least seven years of the stalking behavior. (For example, relationship dissolution or divorce, job termination, loss/potential loss of a child, or an ill parent.) Most stalkers are not psychotic. In a comparative study of psychotic versus non- psychotic stalkers (Mullen et al. 1999), 63% of the sample was found to be suffering from a common psychiatric condition, such as major depression, personality disorder, or substance dependence--with personality disorder being the most common diagnosis.
Ex-intimates: Common stalkers are people who previously shared a romantic relationship with the victim, and former intimates are the most common type of stalking target. This can be either from a long or short term relationship.
Family members: A stalker may target a member of their family, such as a parent or sibling. This would most likely be a resentful or rejected stalker, and they would target a family member they feel had rejected, humiliated, or abused them in the past.
Friends and Acquaintances: The victim may be stalked by an intimacy seeker or an incompetent suitor motivated by a desire to start a romantic relationship with the victim. The victim may be stalked by a resentful stalker, typically a neighbor, who may be involved in a disagreement with the victim about something such as noise, the location of a tree, or pets.
Workplace Contacts: In their study of stalkers, Mullen (et al) found that 23% had a professional relationship with their victim, most often a medical practitioner. Other stalkers may be supervisors, fellow employees, service providers, clients, or others who show up at the victim's workplace. Stalking behaviors directed at the victim may include: sexual harassment, physical and sexual assaults, robberies, or even homicide. A violent workplace stalker usually has a history of poor job performance, a high rate of absenteeism, and a record of threats and confrontations with people they resent in the workplace.
The United States Justice Department found that in the U.S., between the years 1992 and 1996 over 2 million people were the victims of violent crime in the workplace. This included:1.5 million assaults51,000 rapes84,000 robberiesOver 1000 homicides (disgruntled employees--usually resentful stalkers--are responsible for most workplace homicides.
Victims often do not tell their co-workers or supervisors about the person who is stalking them because they fear reprisals from the stalker or other employees, don't think they will be believed, or feel embarrassed about the situation. (For other reasons, see Confusion and Denial, on the home page)
Doctors, nurses, psychologists, or other healthcare providers may become the targets of stalking by obsessed clients or patients. (Or the other way around) Teachers may become stalked by students. (Or the other way around.) Psychiatrists are at particular risk for being the targets of stalking because of their contact with people with psychiatric conditions.
Strangers: These are most commonly Intimacy Seekers and Incompetent Suitors, but may also be Predatory stalkers or Resentful stalkers. These stalkers may hide their identity from their victims at first, and reveal it after stalking their victim for some time in order to get closer to them. Victims may be initially flattered when stalker approaches them and respond politely. They may even agree to go on a date with their stalker, after many requests. This can have the unintentional effect of encouraging the stalker, and making them believe that their love is reciprocated.
Gender: Stalkers are far more likely to be male, however, women can also become stalkers. Women are more likely to target someone they have known, usually a professional contact. Men are less likely to pursue other men, while females will often target other females. The majority of female stalkers are intimacy seekers seeking to establish relationships, whereas men show a broader range of motivations, and are more often to be seeking to restore relationships. Women are as likely to use violence as men, and there does not tend to be a difference between genders regarding the duration of a stalking. Thus, while the contexts and motives for stalking may differ between men and women, the intrusiveness of the behaviors and potential for harm does not.
Get the message across
Communicate to the stalker that their attention is unwelcome, but do not do this yourself. In fact, do not have any direct contact with the perpetrator as long as they are stalking you. Forcing contact is one of the goals of stalking, and you will simply be reinforcing the behavior if you communicate directly with her/him. Have someone else communicate your feelings for you. Have a friend, a teacher, supervisor, dean, or someone else that you trust talk to the stalker.
Important note: Schools and some companies are now requiring immediate intervention if they learn there is harassment occurring. If you are a student being stalked by a teacher, professor, or other employee at your school, any school employee you speak to about the harassment is required by law to report the behavior to the administration. This is also becoming policy at some companies--if you are being harassed by another employee, check your company sexual harassment policy before talking to a supervisor as they may be obligated to report the harassment to the higher-ups. If your situation reflects either of these, it's best to be careful who you talk to, or be sure of the timing, otherwise you may end up in a formal investigation without wanting to be, or before you are ready.
If you suspect that the stalking may be a threat to your physical safety, click here for the National Center for the Victims of Crime safety plan measures.
Document every incident of harassment: You will be tempted to ignore the behavior, telling yourself it will stop eventually. However, in most cases, the stalking continues. So, keep a log of what is happening, particularly if the perpetrator is a teacher, professor, or supervisor. Document each incident, including dates, times, names of witnesses, etc. Save e-mails to a disc and keep it at home. Do not throw away any mail or email that is related to the harassment, even if the mail is anonymous. Do not throw away any gifts that the stalker sends you. Save answering machine messages. If it is legal in your state, try to tape record any phone calls. Take pictures of any property damage. Video tape and/or photograph stalking behavior (camera phones can be a great tool for documenting stalking).
Police reports can also be great sources of documentation. While the legislation in many states does not allow for police intervention unless the stalking behavior contains threats or involves attacks, police reports are an official form of documentation and could strengthen a case later on. Even if the stalker's behavior in your situation is not directly threatening, see if you can file a police report anyway.
Stalking By A Work Or School Employee
Document your work and/or school performance. Keep copies of performance evaluations and memos that attest to the quality of your work. Save papers and exams that have comments by your professors. Ask for written recommendations from your teachers that you can keep on file for later. The stalker may question your work or school performance in order to justify their behavior.
Document negative actions: Document any negative actions that you experience because of your refusal to submit to the stalkers demands or attentions--for example, if you are given a poor evaluation, a demotion, or low grade because of your rejecting the stalker.
Power in numbers: If possible, find others who have had similar experiences as you have had with the stalker, or within the environment where the harassment is occurring.
Click here for the NCVC protocol on protecting yourself from cyberstalking.
What you can do to confront stalking usually varies from state to state. In some states, you can file a complaint under the state statute, but only if your stalker has threatened you with physical harm. In others, the statutes mandate that less extreme acts of harassment are sufficient for a restraining order or police arrest. Obtain a copy of your state's stalking statute in order to gain a clear understanding of what conduct constitutes an offense under the statute.
If you are being stalked by someone from your workplace or school, and the stalking is such that you cannot file under your state statute, you can use the formal channels for grievances provided by the institution.
Formal Complaints at School or Work
Begin with the available grievance channels: In the workplace, the Human Resources department is usually responsible for dealing with sexual harassment complaints, at least initially, so this may be the place to begin if you are being stalked by another employee at work. At school, stalking will be in the "domain" of any number of departments: campus security, affirmative action office, ombudsman, student affairs office, dean of students, etc. Call your dean of students office to find out the proper channels for stalking at your school. But be aware that the primary goal of any department you consult will be to protect the school or business from liability--ethics are not likely to guide their decisions, nor will they be likely to guide many of the people involved in your situation. In many cases, complainants are treated like "the enemy."
Keep notes of meetings and phone conferences: Be sure to keep detailed notes of every meeting you have regarding the stalking, including dates, names of participants, and the meeting results. If possible, you might want to tape record the meetings, or bring an advocate or friend so you have a witness to what transpired. It is also a good idea to send written summaries of the results to the attendees after each meeting. (It shows them you are keeping on top of things.)
Document retaliation:Retaliation for complaining about stalking is also illegal. Document any instances you experience just as you would the harassment. It is likely that the majority of the hostility comes from colleagues of the harasser, but this does not change the legality. All retaliation is unlawful regardless of who is doing it.
Stay composed: Most importantly, remain calm and professional during the entire process as your demeanor and psychological state will be under scrutiny. Save your anger for a private counselor's office.
If you have exhausted all the avenues and the problem continues or worsens, we recommend you contact a lawyer (if you have not done so already). If you are thinking of taking legal action, it is best for you to not leave school or your job without consulting a lawyer first. Note: institutions, particularly universities, have been known to drag out investigations so that too much time passes for the victim to file a lawsuit later on--there is usually a 1 year statute of limitations on cases. If you suspect this is happening, go ahead and consult a lawyer now.
Note on workplace harassment: In most cases, you must file with the EEOC, first, before you can take any independent legal action. The EEOC will only rule on cases where the harassment occurred within the last year, so the incidents will have to be relatively recent. Do not leave your job if you are thinking about filing a formal complaint with the EEOC, as this will weaken your case.
Note on school harassment: Recent changes to Title IX hold academic institutions more liable for protecting harassment complainants from retaliation. Also, your identity must be kept confidential except where necessary for investigative purposes. Know your rights in this process ahead of time. If the institutional grievance channels do not clear up the situation, besides contacting a lawyer, contact the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights.
How Do I File a Complaint Under My State's Stalking Statute?
The National Center for the Victims of Crime Protocol (reprinted with permission)
To file a complaint that will trigger an arrest and prosecution, it must be accompanied with sufficient evidence to establish "probable cause" that the stalker engaged in conduct that is illegal under the state's stalking statute. If law enforcement officials do not witness such conduct first-hand, it is often up to the victim to provide them with the evidence necessary to establish probable cause.
Again, victims would be well-advised to obtain a copy of their state's stalking statute in order to gain a clear understanding of what conduct constitutes an offense under the statute. While most state stalking statutes are written in laymen's terms, the exact meaning of those terms is not always clear. Victims may wish to consult with law enforcement officials, prosecutors, or a private attorney for an explanation and interpretation of the specific stalking statute in question.
In other words, stalking victims are often put in a position of having to first prove their case to a law enforcement official before being afforded the opportunity to prove their case before a court of law. It is for this reason that it is crucial for stalking victims to document every stalking incident as thoroughly as possible, including collecting and keeping any videotapes, audiotapes, phone answering machine messages, photos of the stalker or property damage, letters sent, objects left, affidavits from eye witnesses, notes, etc. Experts also recommend that victims keep a journal to document all contacts and incidents, along with the time, date and other relevant in-formation. (See, the NCVC "Stalking: Safety Plan Guidelines," for more information concerning evidence and safety strategies.)
Regardless of whether or not they have sufficient evidence to prove a stalking violation, victims wishing to file a stalking complaint with law enforcement officials should do so at the earliest possible point in time. In some cases, victims may also be able to file a complaint in the jurisdiction where the offender resides, if it is different from the victim's.
If law enforcement officials refuse to investigate, or if they are not responsive to a complaint filed, victims may always directly approach their local prosecutor (also known in various jurisdictions as, the district attorney, state's attorney, commonwealth's attorney or state solicitor).
It is also recommended that any person who suspects or believes that they are currently being stalked should immediately seek the advice and assistance of local victim specialists in developing a personalized safety plan or action plan. Victim specialists can be found at local domestic violence or rape crisis programs -- which should be listed under "Community Services Numbers" or "Emergency Assistance Numbers" in the front section of the local phone book -- or in victim assistance programs located in most local prosecutors' offices and in some law enforcement agencies -- which should be listed under "Local, City or County Government" in the Blue Pages of the local phone book.
Myths and Misconceptions about Sexual Harassment
Myth: Some people ask to be sexually harassed. They do this with how they dress, or how they act. They send "signals." Reality: Being subjected to sexual harassment is a painful, difficult, and frequently traumatic experience. Defenses such as "she wore provocative clothes" and "he enjoyed it" are neither acceptable nor accurate.
Myth: If a person really wanted to discourage, or stop, sexual harassment, they could. Reality: Often, the harasser is in a position to punish the recipient by withholding a promotion, giving a bad evaluation, or giving a low grade. In this society, men are known to rationalize their actions by saying that a women's "no" is really a "yes."
Myth: Most charges of sexual harassment are false. Reality: People have nothing to gain from making false accusations and filing false charges. It is very difficult to file sexual harassment charges, and "the system" can be very hostile to accusers. Confronting the issue can be both physically and financially draining. Usually, victims are traumatized further by the entire process.
Myth: If you ignore sexually harassing behavior, it will eventually stop. Reality: In a recent survey, only 29% of the women who said they tried to ignore the behavior said that it "made things better." Over 61% of the women said that telling the harasser to stop was the most effective method.
Myth: Only women are sexually harassed, this does not happen to men; and all sexual harassment perpetrators are male. Reality: While women continue to be the majority of sexual harassment recipients, men do get harassed--by other men and by women. Currently, approximately 11% of EEOC claims involve men filing grievances against female supervisors. Also, increasing numbers of women are being sexually harassed by other women.
Myth: The seriousness of sexual harassment is exaggerated; most "harassment" is really minor, and involves harmless flirtation. Reality: Sexual harassment can be devastating. Studies indicate that most harassment has nothing to do with "flirtation: or sincere sexual or social interest on the part of the perpetrators. And it is offensive, often frightening and insulting, to the victims. Research shows that victims must often to leave school or jobs to avoid harassment. Many experience serious psychological and health-related problems. They may even be forced to relocate to other cities. (See Ellsion Vs. Brady and the "Reasonable Woman" Standard )
Myth: We live in modern times, and sexual harassment is becoming less of a problem. Reality: Sexual harassment effects 40 to 60 percent of working women, with similar statistics for female students in colleges and universities. 10-20% of men have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. Approximately 15,000 sexual harassment cases are brought to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) each year.
Myth: Sexual harassment is inevitable when people are working together. Reality: While interactions between people may be inevitable, uninvited sexual overtures are not.
Myth: An harasser has to have sexual intentions towards their target for the behavior to count as sexual harassment Reality: Sexual harassment is a form of abuse, most commonly an abuse of power. Any unwanted sexual attention constitutes sexual harassment. The harasser's rationale does not change this fact. (See Oncale V. Sundowner )
Myth: Sexual harassment policies and legislation encourage a fear of sex, and demonizes behavior that is really normal between people. Reality: Sexual harassing behavior may be common, but it is not "normal." Sexual harassment is not about sex, at the core of the problem is abuse, particularly the abuse of power and authority. One would never say that racist acts are "normal," yet they are common, and are as harmful as sexual harassment. The issue is one of treating people with respect and dignity. That this does not always occur may be common, and may be human nature, but it is not "normal."
SPOKANE MUNICIPAL CODETitle 10 Regulation of Activities
A person commits the crime of stalking if, without lawful authority and under circumstances not amounting to a felony attempt of another crime:he intentionally and repeatedly harasses or repeatedly follows another person; andthe person being harassed or followed is placed in fear that the stalker intends to injure the person, another person or property of the person or of another person. The feeling of fear must be one that a reasonable person in the same situation would experience under all the circumstances; andthe stalker either:intends to frighten, intimidate or harass the person; orknows, or reasonably should know, that the person is afraid, intimidated or harassed, even if the stalker did not intend to place the person in fear or intimidate or harass the person. It is not a defense to the crime of stalking under subsection (A)(3)(a) of this section that the stalker was not given actual notice that the person did not want the stalker to contact or follow the person, and it is not a defense to the crime of stalking under subsection (A)(3)(b) of this section that the stalker did not intend to frighten, intimidate, or harass the person. It shall be a defense to the crime of stalking that the defendant is a licensed private investigator acting within the capacity of his license as provided by chapter 18.165 RCW. Attempts to contact or follow the person after being given actual notice that the person does not want to be contacted or followed constitutes prima facie evidence that the stalker intends to intimidate or harass the person.“Contact” includes, in addition to any other form of contact or communication, the sending of an electronic communication to the person. A person who stalks another person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor except that the person is guilty of a class C felony if any of the following applies:The stalker has previously been convicted in this state or any other state of any crime of harassment, as defined in RCW 9A.46.060, of the same victim or members of the victim’s family or household or any person specifically named in a protective order.The stalking violates any protective order protecting the person being stalked.The stalker has previously been convicted of a gross misdemeanor or felony stalking offense under this section for stalking another person.The stalker was armed with a deadly weapon, as defined in RCW 9.94A.125, while stalking the person.The stalker’s victim is or was a law enforcement officer, judge, juror, attorney, victim advocate, legislator or community correction’s officer, and the stalker stalked the victim to retaliate against the victim for an act the victim performed during the course of official duties or to influence the victim’s performance of official duties; orThe stalker’s victim is a current, former or prospective witness in an adjudicative proceeding, and the stalker stalked the victim to retaliate against the victim as a result of the victim’s testimony or potential testimony. As used in this section:“follows” means deliberately maintaining visual or physical proximity to a specific person over a period of time. A finding that the alleged stalker repeatedly and deliberately appears at the person’s home, school, place of employment, business or any other location to maintain visual or physical proximity to the person is sufficient to find that the alleged stalker follows the person. It is not necessary to establish that the alleged stalker follows the person while in transit from one location to another;“harasses” means unlawful harassment as defined in RCW 10.14.020;“protective order” means any temporary or permanent court order prohibiting or limiting violence against, harassment of, contact or communication with or physical proximity to another person;“repeatedly” means on two or more separate occasions.
Date Passed: Monday, June 4, 2007
Effective Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Recodification ORD C34041 Section 1
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