By Ebony S. Muhammad
Stalking is one of most dreaded experiences a person can encounter, that unfortunately happens more often that reported or spoken about in general. The act of stalking, to those unaware, appears more like romantic attention, genuine concern, a sweet gesture from a crush or even admiration from someone who is deeply and dangerously envious (i.e. same-gender stalking – more on this below).
The Definition of a Stalker
There are notably five types of stalkers, and their entire mission is to incite terror, intimidation, power and control over another person. According to multiple resources, the most common definition of stalking is unwanted or obsessive attention by an individual or group towards another person. Stalking behaviors are related to harassment and intimidation and may include following the victim in person or monitoring them.
Having experienced this and knowing others who have as well, it is one of the most unsettling things to endure and overcome. I will say that it has certainly sharpened my ability to read people, both male and female, for certain personality traits and red flags. The goal of stalkers, when using their sociopathic tactics, is to force or impose themselves into another person’s life, and take over by any and all means necessary.
The mind of a stalker is irrational, therefore, to attempt to reason with them is pointless and actually feeds right into their scheme to take you off kilter. In their mind, having you or your attention is what they feel entitled to, what is owed to them and what they feel they deserve, whether the other person agrees or not. They lack empathy, remorse, and definitely cannot and will not accept responsibility for their actions. They believe that there is nothing wrong with what they are doing, therefore, the chances of them admitting to being a stalker is zero.
5 Types of Stalkers
In “A Study of Stalkers” Dr. Paul E. Mullen 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. Such stalkers often believe that 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.
In addition to the above 5, myself and a few others would like to include 2 more. As mentioned in the beginning of this writing, there is a very common, yet, rarely spoken of form of stalking, known as same-gender stalking. This usually falls under the Resentful Stalker type. A couple of girlfriends of mine have experienced this form of stalking, that both described the women stalking them as “…it’s like she wants to be me”.
Often same-gender stalking can appear to be admiration, but it then it gives itself away as a malicious form of obsession rooted in jealousy or envy, hence the resentment. Many same-gender stalkers feel as though something has been taken from them that they deserve (i.e. attention, praise, material possessions, status and lifestyle). In their mind, they believe that the presence of the one they envy and resent invalidates their existence. So they attempt to take one the identity of the one they are stalking in effort to superficially acquire what they believe belongs to them. You may see this manifest by way of how they take on the other person’s characteristics, style of dress, occupation or aspects of it, hair style, and other interests unique to the one stalked.
It isn’t always clear of where their sense of grievance stems from other than deep seated insecurities and their perceived inadequacies and inability to establish a healthy sense of self-worth, that the one they are resentful of may possess. They are motivated to not only be like their object of obsession, but can even seek to “out do” them as a way to prove they’re superior. It actually proves false if they have to take one someone else’s identity to feel superior. This is, to the rational person, a loathsome and repulsive mindset. Those that I know that have experienced and are experiencing this form of stalking, described these individuals as having a very low emotional frequency. They are one-track minded and focused on vain achievements, lacking substance, and need something outside of themselves to validate and motivate them. They tend to lack creativity and a sense of self for this reason as well, which is why it is easier for them to imitate (copy) someone else. Also, and just as disturbing, these individuals are driven by narcissism (as most stalkers tend to be).
The Narcissistic Stalker
Here is the best description of a Narcissistic person. Now I don’t usually go for labels, but working in the field of psychology and having my own brush with certain types of people, I definitely agree with this one. Combine this with the definition of a stalker and you have a hardcore Sociopath:
According to Psychology Today, the hallmarks of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are grandiosity, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration. People with this condition are frequently described as arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. They may also concentrate on grandiose fantasies (e.g. their own success, beauty, brilliance) and may be convinced that they deserve special treatment. These characteristics typically begin in early adulthood and must be consistently evident in multiple contexts, such as at work and in relationships.
People with narcissistic personality disorder believe they are superior or special, and often try to associate with other people they believe are unique or gifted in some way. This association enhances their self-esteem, which is typically quite fragile underneath the surface. Individuals with NPD seek excessive admiration and attention in order to know that others think highly of them. Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder have difficulty tolerating criticism or defeat, and may be left feeling humiliated or empty when they experience an “injury” in the form of criticism or rejection.
Symptoms of Narcissism
Narcissistic personality disorder is indicated by five or more of the following symptoms:
- Exaggerates own importance
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence or ideal romance
- Believes he or she is special and can only be understood by other special people or institutions
- Requires constant attention and admiration from others
- Has unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment
- Takes advantage of others to reach his or her own goals
- Disregards the feelings of others, lacks empathy
- Is often envious of others or believes other people are envious of him or her
- Shows arrogant behaviors and attitudes
Traits of A Stalker
- Falls “instantly” in love
- Can switch between rage and “love”
- Sense of entitlement
- A bully
- Blames others for his problems
- Views themselves as a victim of circumstances, society, family etc.
- They need others to give them their identity or sense of “self”
- Can’t take no for an answer
- Has problems distinguishing reality from fantasy
- It is never his fault
Therefore, you can see that a Narcissistic Stalker is a very unique mixture of inner turmoil and delusion that is merely a result of their own doing. It is because of their latent perception of the world and themselves that when made known can be potentially dangerous. However, with the above signs it becomes easier to spot such persons, thus, protect yourself. Stalkers in general can be pinpointed if we choose to recognize and accept the red flags. It’s about knowing what to look for, the patterns, temperament, actions, inconsistencies in their behavior especially when seeking to appear favorable.
Stalkers In General
Regarding stalkers in general, an important point to zoom in on is that many people think of strangers following another person in a dark alley when they see or hear the term stalking or someone described as a stalker. On the contrary. Nearly 90% of stalking victims know the stalker. As a matter of fact, there is a very close tie between sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking as it relates to opposite gender stalking. This means if you’ve experienced one, the chances of experiencing the other forms of abuse by the same person is alarmingly high.
Again it’s about power, control, fear, intimidation, and attention. It is also critical to note that stalkers are incredibly persistent. The duration of stalking can last between 4 weeks to 20 years. A friend of mine stated that stalking has to be like a second job. The difference is that they don’t clock out. I wholeheartedly agree. It’s disturbing how a stalker can have a full time job and other obligations but still find time to follow and monitor and harass another person, who more than likely doesn’t live with them. Again, it’s their persistence.
Stalkers will go at all lengths to achieve their end game and even involve other unsuspecting family members, friends and co-workers. To achieve this, their tactic is charm, likability and charisma. Their strategy is using those means as a way to get as much information about the person they’re stalking, where they are, who their with, what they’re doing and how to insert themselves in the process. A friend of mine was stalked by an ex-girlfriend, who was so crafty and calculated in her efforts that she was actually able to move into his mother’s home and siphon information from his younger brother! This is why it is so critical to inform family, friends and co-workers about the situation, right away. Doing so can also prevent your loved ones from being victims of stalking as well.
According to another girlfriend of mine, who is a survivor of stalking, mentioned some other reasons why someone may not inform others about being stalked. “People don’t have a true sense of how dangerous a stalker is. So when we tell other people, they think it’s only a game, or that we’re overreacting or full of ourselves; the nerve of us to think we’re so important that someone would actually stalk us…this only happens to celebrities. That’s their mindset, so we keep it to ourselves at first”.
One may think that telling others is counterintuitive, or that they can handle the situation or that it will eventually stop on its on. That is so far from how it actually plays out.
Stalkers have an insatiable need to occupy the mind and space of their victim. They seek to terrorize, provoke fear and uncertainty towards the object of their obsession.
One of the most empowering things I and others came across that is an incredible tool, is The Stalking Handbook for Victims. Surviving a stalker is rooted in acquiring knowledge of their mindset, thus, the edge on outmaneuvering, outsmarting and neutralizing their efforts / impact of their actions. It was a major win learning about the psychology of stalking that served as our playbook while we continue living our lives fearlessly. We had the ultimate edge! By having this, we were able to see how it totally worked to our advantage in dodging the stalker.
The author, Emily Spence-Diehl, gives detailed traits of stalkers (beyond the typical description one may see in search engines), the elements of stalking, safety tips at home and when away from home, keeping one’s quality of life (not living in fear) and much more!
There is also a sample Stalking Journal which serves as legal documentation of when a person experiences stalking; where it happened, how it happened, were there any witnesses and how you responded to the situation. This journal is designed to stand in trial if need be.
All of these tools serve as a way for victims of stalking to regain control over their lives, to be strengthened and empowered against someone who has made it their mission in life to annoy, inconvenience, monitor and follow another person. Considering the effects of stalking on a victim, this handbook can be a lifesaver and incredibly liberating.
It’s about being able to function from a place of knowledge and light. It’s about reclaiming your life, and doing so despite what someone else is attempting to do against you. It’s about re-establishing dominance over yourself; mind, body and spirit.
Once you see exactly how the mind of a stalker works, their method of operation and what they thrive on, it gives you the ultimate advantage and gives you the assurance of staying one or two steps ahead.