A stalker is a great antagonist for a thriller, mystery or crime novel. I’d like to help you know more about this character, what makes them tick so you can have the basic knowledge to incorporate such a character into your novel.
What is stalking?
Stalking is the undesired or obsessive attention by a person or group of people towards another individual. This can include, but is not exclusive to, harassment, intimidation, following and monitoring an individual for an extended period of time.
Why do people stalk?
They think their victims are their possessions that belong to them exclusively. They try to control and terrorize their victims. In their minds they believe that they love their victims and want to keep them safe. Stalkers often have problems letting go, they may believe that the victim loves them or they suffer from a complex psychological problem. They are probably socially inept and unable to form a love connection the conventional way.
What behaviours are considered stalking?
- Telephone harassment
- Following the victim
- Giving unwanted gifts
- Harming their victim’s pets
- Stealing from their victim
- Breaking in to the victim’s home
- Imitating the victim’s looks or behaviour
- Spying on the victim
- Watching them at work, home or during their leisure time
- Sending unwanted letters
- Making unwanted advances
- Touching their victim inappropriately
- Constantly asking their victim on dates, only to be denied
- Harming the victim or their loved ones
- Violating restraining orders
- Stealing their victim’s mail
- Making unwanted visits to the victim’s home
- Vandalising the victim’s property
- Attacking the victim physically
- Assaulting the victim sexually
- Take photos of their victim
- Threaten the victim, their family or friends.
Are stalkers mentally ill?
Stalkers are more likely to be depressed, high, drunk or have personality disorders than to have psychotic disorders.
What types of stalkers are there?
Incompetent – This stalker wants to start a romantic relationship with their victim, but has the desire to do so by unacceptable means. This is due to their lack of social skills. They will often ask their victim on dates, call them constantly, kiss, touch and force themselves onto their victim. A restraining order or legal action keeps this stalker at bay.
Intimacy Seeker – The stalker choses the victim, because they see them as the perfect partner and want to be romantically involved with them. They think that all responses, even when their victim indicates that they aren’t interested, is meant to motivate them. Restraining orders and the like are mere challenges to overcome to claim their victim. This character is shy, lonely and isolated. They send their victim gifts and letters to show their affection. They are prone to jealousy, especially if their victim is in a relationship with someone else.
Morbidly Infatuated – They think anything their victim says or does is proof of the love between them. They choose a victim who’s a celebrity or someone with a high social standing. They constantly approach and contact their victim. They are delusional and paranoid.
Predatory – The stalker uses their victim to feel more powerful or attain sexual satisfaction. Their victim can be someone they know or a complete stranger. They prey on their victims by observing them from a distance. This stalking is short-lived and they use violence to get what they want. They usually have self-esteem issues and bad social skills.
Rejected – The character begins to stalk a friend or romantic partner as the relationship is starting to come to an end. They want to continue the relationship or take revenge on the victim. They will probably use violence and persistence. These stalkers are narcissistic, jealous and possessive.
Resentful – Their victim is someone who hurt or upset the stalker. This can be a bully, stranger or someone they know. The aim of this stalker is to scare and distress their victim. Their weapon of choice is verbal threats, not physical assault or violence. This type of stalker is constantly and irrationally paranoid.
How does stalking affect the victim?
Stalking forces the victim to make changes in their lives that they would not usually make on a whim. This could include increasing security in their homes, changing their appearance, changing jobs, houses and phone numbers. The victim constantly feels unsafe and may begin to become paranoid, depressed or suicidal.
What are the types of stalking victims?
Prior intimates – these people have been in an intimate relationship with the stalker before. This includes victims who went on one or two dates with the stalker, but did not engage in a full-on relationship.
Casual acquaintances/friends – This can include neighbours as well.
Professional Contacts: These victims are stalked by patients, clients, students or someone that they’ve had a professional relationship with.
Workplace Contacts: The stalkers visit them in their workplace. They victims are an employer, employee or customer.
Strangers: There victims don’t know how the stalker started stalking them, because they have no relationship. The stalker admires this victim from a distance and it escalates from there.
Celebrities: This is when the victim is an actor, musician, politician, athlete or socialite.
Who is more likely to stalk who?
Women usually stalk other women, but men are more likely to stalk women exclusively.
This is the use of computers or technology to stalk someone. They commit crimes against their victims online. These stalkers are usually sexually abused as children and have narcissistic behaviours. The cyberstalking crimes can include false accusations, defamation, slander, monitoring, identity theft, threats, soliciting for sex, gaining harmful and confidential information, embarrassing and harassing their victim.
This is when a person is being stalked by two people or more. This may mean that each stalker is working on their own or as a group to victimize their prey. This may mean that family or friends of the stalker get involved in stalking the victim.
How can the victim try and protect themselves?
- Tell someone else about the harassment.
- Research the anti-stalking statutes in their area.
- Document all the evidence of stalking by making copies of letters, gifts, photograph of injuries, photographs of the stalker near their home or workspace, keep phone records and caller ID records.
- Let law enforcement investigate and build a case for a restraining or protective order.
- Have a safety plan in place with friends, family and neighbours.
- Change phone numbers.
- Travel with someone you trust.
What are the charges for stalking?
Stalking is a criminal offense that may include additional charges of sexual assault, identity theft and vandalism. The penalties for stalking can be misdemeanour, fines or incarceration.
Have you written a stalker your novel before? Do you enjoy reading about a stalker? Who is your favourite stalker character? Do you have any other tips to share? Let me know by commenting below!
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