Types of stalker
Stalking falls into five main typologies
Understanding the motivations of individual stalkers can help efforts to challenge and eradicate stalking behaviours.
Men can stalk women but can also stalk other men. Women can stalk men, but also stalk other women. A stalker can be a partner or ex-partner, a friend, a work colleague, an acquaintance or a stranger. Stalking behaviour isn’t restricted to any one kind of person, race, group, sex, gender or sexual orientation, although men are more likely to stalk than women. Some stalkers keep their identity hidden, some let their victims know who they are.
Types of behaviour
Researchers have identified five broad groups of stalking behaviour:
Rejection stalkers – people who have been in an intimate relationship and, when the relationship is under strain or breaks down, they then target their partner or ex-partner. This can happen when a relationship is failing or years after a relationship has ended. Rejection stalking is often associated with relationships that were previous abusive.
Incompetent suitors – people who seek a romantic or sexual relationship with another person and pursue their target with fixated, obsessive, unwanted and repeated contact. Incompetent suitors are often people who struggle to form normal relationships. Some people think the term 'incompetent suitor' minimises criminal behaviour that is often born out of an attitude of entitlement.
Resentful stalkers – people who target someone because they think they’ve been wronged in some way; can be acquaintances, work colleagues or customers, neighbours and family members.
Intimacy seekers – some people believe that they are in love or meant to be together with someone they hardly know – an acquaintance, a person they have seen in the street or on TV – despite the other person having given no indication that this is the case. When rebuffed, they can turn vengeful. This type of stalking has been linked by health professionals and researchers to serious mental health issues. There is a higher instance of women than men in this group.
Predatory stalkers – people who have a sexual or sadistic motive for stalking.
Why people stalk
People who stalk claim a range of justifications. They might feel they've been wronged and want to get their own back. They might be unable to accept the end of a relationship. They might want to start a relationship with someone they don’t know or who isn’t interested in them. They might be a sexual predator or they might believe something that isn’t true, because they have a serious mental disorder. They might manipulate others into helping them.
At the heart of stalking is the mistaken belief that one person can justifiably force another person to listen to what they have to say, pay them attention or do what they want them to do.
Some people know what they’re doing is a criminal offence but are unable to consider the consequences. Others wrongly believe they have good reason to behave the way they do. However, regardless of what justifications a stalker offers, if their behaviour directed at another person, is repeated and unwanted, and could cause fear and alarm, then it’s likely to be a serious criminal offence, with severe consequences.
This is because the law says that there is no justification for stalking. Society regards it as a completely unacceptable way to interact with others.