Stalking is a term commonly used to refer to unwanted, obsessive attention by individuals (and sometimes groups of people) to others. Stalking behaviors are related to harassment and intimidation. The word "stalking" is used, with some differing meanings, in psychology and psychiatry and also in some legal jurisdictions as a term for a criminal offense. It may also be used to refer to criminal offences or civil wrongs that include conduct which some people consider to be stalking, such as those described in law as "harassment" or similar terms.
Definitions of stalking
The difficulties associated with precisely defining this term (or defining it at all) are well documented. It seems to have been first applied to the harassment (in a general sense) of celebrities by strangers who were described as being obsessed. This use of the word appears to have been coined by the tabloid press in the United States.
Stalking can be defined as the willful and repeated following, watching, and / or harassing of another person. Most of the time, the purpose of stalking is to attempt to force a relationship with someone who is unwilling or otherwise unavailable. Unlike other crimes, which usually involve one act, stalking is a series of actions that occur over a period of time. Although stalking is illegal, the actions that contribute to stalking are legal, such as gathering information, calling someone on the phone, sending gifts, emailing or instant messaging. Such actions by themselves are not usually abusive, but can become abusive when frequently repeated over time.[
Gender studies related to stalking
According to one study, women often target other women, whereas men generally stalk women only. However, a January 2009 report from the Department of Justice in the United States reports that "Males were as likely to report being stalked by a male as a female offender. 43% of male stalking victims stated that the offender was female, while 41% of male victims stated that the offender was another male. Female victims of stalking were significantly more likely to be stalked by a male (67%) rather than a female (24%) offender." This report provides considerable data by gender and race about both stalking and harassment.
Types of stalkers
Psychologists often group individuals who stalk into two categories: psychotic and nonpsychotic. Many[quantify] stalkers have pre-existing psychotic disorders such as delusional disorder, schizoaffective disorder, or schizophrenia. Most stalkers are nonpsychotic and may exhibit disorders or neuroses such as major depression, adjustment disorder, or substance dependence, as well as a variety of Axis II personality disorders (such as antisocial, avoidant, borderline, dependent, narcissistic, or paranoid). Some of the symptoms of "obsessing" over a person is part of obsessive compulsive personality disorder. The nonpsychotic stalkers' pursuit of victims can be influenced by various psychological factors, including anger, hostility, projection of blame, obsession, dependency, minimization, denial, and jealousy. Conversely, as is more commonly the case, the stalker has no antipathic feelings towards the victim, but simply a longing that cannot be fulfilled due to deficiencies either in their personality or their society's norms.
In "A Study of Stalkers" Mullen et al.. (2000) identified five types of stalkers:
* Rejected stalkers pursue their victims in order to reverse, correct, or avenge a rejection (e.g. divorce, separation, termination).
* Resentful stalkers pursue a vendetta because of a sense of grievance against the victims – motivated mainly by the desire to frighten and distress the victim.
* Intimacy seekers seek to establish an intimate, loving relationship with their victim. To many of them the victim is a long-sought-after soul mate, and they were 'meant' to be together.
* Incompetent suitors, despite poor social or courting skills, have a fixation, or in some cases a sense of entitlement to an intimate relationship with those who have attracted their amorous interest. Their victims are most often already in a dating relationship with someone else.
* Predatory stalkers spy on the victim in order to prepare and plan an attack – often sexual – on the victim.