A stalker can be a stranger or someone the victim knows including a partner, an ex-partner, or a family member. Stalking is a crime that can touch anyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, geographic location, or personal associations. However, the US Department of Justice reports that the overwhelming majority of victims are women (78%) and the majority of offenders (87%) are men. Nearly 60% of women and 30% of men who are stalked are stalked by a current partner. However, some stalkers develop an obsession for someone with whom they have no personal relationship.
Because there is a wide range of stalking behaviors, it is virtually impossible to devise a single effective strategy that can be applied to every situation. For this reason, it is vital that stalking victims immediately seek advice to devise a safety plan for their unique situation and circumstances. At Brown, you can contact Counseling and Psychological Services at 401.-863-3476 for confidential support. Brown students, staff and faculty can also access the safety planning services of the Special Victims Unit of the Department of Public Safety at 401-863.2542.
While there is no single psychological or behavioral profile for stalkers, forensic psychologists have identified two broad categories of stalkers and stalking behavior-dividing them into simple obsession and love obsession cases. 70-80% of all stalking cases fall under the simple obsession category, in which a personal or romantic relationship existed between the stalker and the victim before the stalking behavior began. These stalkers are commonly socially maladjusted, emotionally immature and extremely insecure. Their self-esteem is often closely tied to their relationship with the victim and, as a result, their greatest fear becomes the loss of this relationship, creating a dangerous dynamic. These stalkers can be most dangerous when their victims decide to end the relationship.
Love obsession stalkers develop a love obsession or fixation on a person with whom they have no personal relationship. The target may be only a casual acquaintance or even a complete stranger. This category represents about 20-25% of all stalking cases. The vast majority of these stalkers suffer from a psychological disorder-often schizophrenia or paranoia. Nearly all display some delusional thought patterns or behaviors. In place of normal personal relationships, they invent fictional stories which cast their unwilling victims in the role of their own love interest. Love obsession stalkers expect their victims to play out the roles they have cast them in and believe they can make the object of their affection love them. They may attempt to force the victim to comply with threats, intimidation, or even violence.