Stalkers and the psychological impact of harassment
Feeling watched, followed and harassed can lead to immense psychological distress. Not knowing how a stalker will escalate the disturbances and hurt the victim is a large part of the problem. Stalking is defined as persistent and unwanted attention and approaches from a perpetrator through following, calling, texting, emailing and other forms of in-person and digital contact. Fear and stress due to dealing with these activities can strain mental health on many levels.
Timothy Diette, an assistant professor of economics at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, found women between 18 and 22 years old who are targeted by stalkers have a 113 percent increased chance of psychological distress compared to females who have never been stalked. This statistic balloons to 265 percent for subjects between the ages of 23 and 29 years of age.
As highlighted by the Psychiatric Times in April of 2001 and the University of Michigan, there are five proposed kinds of stalkers based on sets of behaviors and their motivations.
1. The rejected – Often perpetuated by those with narcissistic and jealous tendencies, this person may bother victims after a relationship’s end. This type of stalker may stalk victims out of revenge or a desire to resume the relationship. Often among the most intrusive and violent types of stalkers, these people are especially resistant to law enforcement interventions.
2. The predatory – This person inconspicuously follows the victim as a means of instigating sexual assault. Potential for physical violence is high in this class of stalkers as is a sense of exhibitionism and voyeurism.
3. The intimacy seekers – Delusional by nature, these criminals falsely believe their victims are in love with them. Even negative responses from their targets can encourage further stalking. Intimacy seekers believe the time and effort poured into the harassment activities entitles them to love and affection. Especially resistant to law enforcement interventions and “competition” from legitimate significant others of the victim, the stalker sees these aspects as challenges to overcome rather than signs of defeat.
4. The incompetent – Characterized by impaired social skills and a sense of entitlement, these followers may attempt a romantic relationship with the victim despite clear signs he or she is not interested. Involving law enforcement and encouraging counseling typically stops this behavior.
5. The resentful – He or she exhibits paranoia and views the victim as an enemy, despite his or her innocence. The stalker falsely believes the target is related to a past wrongdoer needing punishment. He or she usually sticks to verbal abuse only and more likely stops with early law enforcement intervention.
Sovereign Health Group can help victims coping with the aftermath of a stalking incident. Our mental health professionals can help any patient overcome trauma and feel safe again. Call us today to get started.
Written by Nicholas Ruiz, Sovereign Health Group writer