Friday, 30 April 2010

Stalkers

I can't begin to understand stalkers. I fail to see what warped sense of enjoyment there could be in harassing someone day in and day out until they're terrified out of their wits.

But stalking seems to be increasing*, so much so that a new national helpline, Stalking Helpline, has been set up for those on the receiving end.

Who can explain it? Sometimes it's a romantic delusion, with the stalker seeing someone as so perfect, so unique, so special that they become obsessed with them. They also imagine that sooner or later the person will see the stalker as equally perfect and special and a wonderful relationship will result.

If onlt they send enough letters and gifts, and wait outside their heart-throb's home often enough, eventually all the attention will pay off.

Then again it may be all about power. The stalker's aim is to gain total control over the person's life and make them feel trapped and helpless. They want the victim to be aware of nothing but the stalker and what he (and it's usually he) will do next to disrupt their life. An extreme form of bullying in other words.

Some people still don't take it seriously. They say a woman should be flattered or amused by all the attention, or that the stalker is just some passionate admirer who's going too far. They fail to recognise the sheer distress and humiliation the victim is going through.

Yes, to begin with, the unwanted pestering is simply annoying and puzzling, but as it continues relentlessly day after day, sapping energy and making normal life impossible, it becomes a hideous nightmare.

One of the new helpline's founders is Tricia Bernal, whose 22 year old daughter Clare was shot dead by her ex-boyfriend after months of harassment and threats.

Flattering? Amusing? I don't think so.

* It is estimated that over a million women in the UK are victims of stalking every year.

See also: The Network for Surviving Stalking

19 comments:

Grannymar said...

Stalking leaves mental scars on the victims for many years after the event.

Leah said...

I had a stalker a long long time ago...definitely not flattering; just spooky and creepy.

I still worry about it from time to time.

I think usually in its extreme form, it's a delusion of reference (which is in itself pretty interesting, but only in the academic sense).

I think with all the publicity and the Lifetime Television movies and the new anti-stalking laws here in the States, it's taken more seriously now.

Nick said...

Grannymar - I'm sure it does. Constant physical and psychic harassment is immensely damaging.

Leah - I guess it's a type of delusion of reference in the "romantic attachment" situation, when the stalker sees a special connection that simply isn't there. Understandable that you still worry about your stalker from many years back. Was he arrested or did he just disappear?

Leah said...

Nick--he disappeared. Creepy, huh?

Nick said...

Leah - That IS creepy, because I immediately wonder whether he started stalking someone else instead....

Rummuser said...

Stalking is a recent phenomenon in India, or more accurately, we now come to know about cases when things get out of hand. We also have a phenomenon called eve teasing with a bunch of roadside romeos hanging around street corners passing lewd comments and making themselves a nuisance to passing women. Some extreme cases of unrequited love resulting in acid throwing on the girl or even killing her are regularly being reported. Indian sociologists are of course full of reasons as to why this almost exclusively urban phenomenon takes place but nothing seems to deter these characters.

You have ignored another vital aspect of the problem! A widower being stalked by widows!! Ask me.

Scarlet Blue said...

I read somewhere that there is an opposite to stalking. The perpetrator is obsessed with his victim but then goes out of his or her way to avoid the victim. The stalker still has to find out everything about the victim but uses the information for avoidence.
Weird, eh?
Sx

Scarlet Blue said...

I wrote that really badly!!! Sorry, I've only just come online!
Sx

Nick said...

Ramana - Eve teasing I've never seen in Britain but there are certainly cases where unrequited love leads to vicious attacks. Ah yes, all those carpet-baggers trying to worm their way into your affections....

Scarlet - Hadn't heard of that, very weird. Sort of covert watching, presumably the thrill being that he knows he's watching but the victim doesn't? Nasty.

The just-online syndrome - I know it well....

Baino said...

I've never been stalked so I'm not really qualified to comment. Had the odd phone call but a soccer whistle took care of that. I can identify with Rummuser here, my father was a pretty handsome 60 something widower with no interest in another relationship and the women were all over him, he hated it.

Nick said...

Baino - Intriguing that your father also attracted too much female interest! My mother has had a few male admirers since my father died but has no desire to remarry.

Megan said...

There's a blog I visit quite a bit. The guy seems like an intelligent bloke, but he has some kind of crazy fetish for this one starlet. It's a bit disturbing, frankly, how often her image appears in his posts.

But I can't help thinking that at least he is getting it out of his system in a fairly harmless manner. I mean, he's only harming himself...

conortje said...

I always wondered why I don't have a stalker. Maybe some day ... :-)

Nick said...

Megan - Sounds a bit obsessive. It looks as if he's keeping it IN his system rather than getting it out! As long as it's contained on the blog and he's not actively pursuing her....

Conor - But you're such a handsome guy, surely you should have at least half a dozen crazed stalkers following your every move?

Wisewebwoman said...

I was stalked a few times, Nick but never to the point of total intrusion, just being asked out again and again and again and gifts sent in the mail and gushy cards and one time a gift of a photo in an expensive frame of the guy, pimples and all.
What I found really disturbing about them all was that none of them ever listened when I told them I was not interested but kept pursuing, one even issuing the classic line: oh you girls you always say no when you mean yes.
In hindsight I should have reported them but I didn't feel threatened physically and I was always scared I wouldn't be taken seriously by the police.
It isn't remotely funny - the grandgirl was recently stalked by one of those guys who won't say no and I was truly alarmed for her and astonished when she had the same reaction as I did years ago. "He'll
get the message....eventually."
*shiver*
XO
WWW

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I've had stalkers too. I think it may be a result of people growing increasingly separated except in a virtual world, which makes normal social interaction more difficult and in some cases, impossible due to lack of knowing how and also not understanding real life boundaries. And I agree that control is often a big part of it, too.

Nick said...

www - It's so common, isn't it, guys who simply don't listen to what a woman is saying and go on pursuing their own agenda? I'm glad grandgirl didn't come to any harm.

Heart - I think men are prone to not understanding real-life boundaries anyway, though I agree that all this virtual bonding can make dealing with real-life more difficult.

secret agent woman said...

It's creepy. I do think it is primarily about power.

Nick said...

Secret Agent - Very much so. Especially since in most cases the only thing that's achieved is the harassment. There's no relationship and no sex.