Thursday, July 4, 2013

Characteristics of a Female Stalker

Most people typically think stalkers are male. Contrary to popular belief, it is not just males that are stalkers. However, female stalkers are equally dangerous. Over the last almost two-years I have been dealing with a female stalker. However, I have taken positive from it. I have excelled in school because I used her behaviors as a learning tool and a couple term papers that helped me obtain and maintain a 4.0 in grad school. 

This blog posting will review how stalking is defined; how it is classified; and reasons why it is important for health professionals and law enforcement to be aware of stalking behaviors in females.

Stalking has been in existence since early times. However, it wasn't until the 1970s that health professionals and law enforcement really took awareness of the issues and danger behind stalkers; especially female stalkers. Even then, the laws didn’t catch up to stalking actions until 1989 when actress Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered by her long-time stalker. When most of society thinks of stalking, it is attached with celebrities. However, I am far from a celebrity; nor are most stalking victims.

As described in “The clinical risk management of stalking: someone is watching me” in the 1997 American Journal of Psychiatry article, Dr. Meloy describes stalking as “the willful, malicious, and repeated following or harassing of another person that threatens his or her safety.” As the laws are converse in all 50 states, the standard model for stalking is exactly what Dr. Meloy described. No matter what, in all 50 states stalking is illegal.

According to the Department of Justice’s 1997 article on domestic violence and stalking, men have a two-percent risk of becoming a stalking victim while women have an eight-percent chance in their lifetime.
In 1999, a study was completed based on the research of 145 stalkers that had been referred to a forensic psych clinic. The population studied was made up of 30 women and 115 men. The data derived from the study helped form the typology for classifying various levels of stalkers. This helps law enforcement, health professionals, and victims  to better understand the type of person they are dealing with.

Categories of typology of stalkers

THE REJECTED STALKER
This typically makes up the largest part of the categories of stalkers. The stalking behaviors are manifested because their relationship (e.g. friendship, romantic, etc) is terminated. Broken friendships and romantic partners are the two most common. In my case, it is because I terminated the friendship. The rejected stalker will seek revenge on their target. Health professionals have determined these types of stalkers often suffer from borderline personality disorder and one-fifth suffer from delusions.

THE INTIMACY SEEKING STALKER
This group is second largest in the typology of stalkers. The stalker will desire to have some form of intimacy with their target. The level of obsession with their target is considered to have “morbid infatuations” by health professionals. According to the DSM-V, these types of stalkers are largely diagnosed with erotomanic disorders; a disorder where the person believes their target is “in love” with them and they must seek out their target to get their love. This is their intense drive behind stalking their target. Like the first group – rejected stalker – this group typically stalks their victim for a longer period than other groups.

THE INCOMPETENT STALKER
This type of stalker typically lacks the appropriate knowledge of social skills. Due to not having knowledge, their behaviors and actions of stalking is in hopes to gain intimacy with their target. They are not as infatuated as the above group, however, they feel are “entitled” to a relationship with their target. These types of stalkers typically have more than one victim over time.

THE RESENTFUL STALKER
These are, like the first two, some of the more dangerous stalkers. Their behaviors are with the intent to cause distress and invoke fear in their target. Like the rejected stalker, the resentful stalker will threaten their target and then retract the threat by creating an illusion they were victimized. What sets the resentful target apart from the rejected stalker is these types of stalkers can just be disgruntle as a whole and randomly choose their target.

THE PREDATORY STALKER
Contrary to popular belief, this group actually represents the smallest of the typology of stalkers. As well, men are more inclined to the be the stalker than women. These types of stalkers have delusions of power which are typically carried out through some form of sexual attack. They enjoy the power and authority they have over their victim because of the level of fear they have invoked in their target.

WOMEN STALKERS
Female stalkers are typically Caucasian and heterosexual with a high school diploma and very little, if any, college of education. The female stalkers typically receive their “education” on successfully stalking their target from various law based television shows.

Only one-third of all reported female stalkers are substance abuse users with the largest group represented are pain and psychotropic abuse. Of the female stalkers reported in 2008, 98-percent of them suffered from Axis I and II disorders. The most common psychiatric disorder was borderline personality disorder and delusional disorder.

Female stalkers typically know their targets through severed friendship. Female stalkers who target individuals who do not know them only make up for one-fifth of the female stalkers reported in 2008. The reasons for female stalking have been most frequently reported as anger from rejection, obsession, and feelings of abandonment. The behaviors typically consist of social media messages, phone calls, driving by the target’s locations, harassing the victim to embarrass and humiliate until the target gives in to their demands, and following the target.

In 2008, it was reported more than half of the female stalkers reported threatened their victim with some type of physical violence. Approximately a quarter of all female stalkers reported in 2008 were physically violent to their target. Male targets make up for two-thirds; while female targets make up the smaller group at only one-third of all reported in 2008. The female stalker typically pursues their targets for an average of 22-months.

[Ironically, the last sentence resonates with me because my Injunction for Protection Against Stalking Against my stalker was served just shy of the 22-month mark]

There have been several celebrities stalked by female stalkers. Eddie Waitkus – First baseman for the Phillies – was shot and killed by a female fan who was obsessed with him in 1949.  Dave Letterman was stalked by a mentally ill women until she took her own life in 1998. The list can go on for a while. Like celebrities who are stalked, non-celebrity targets are the target of some form of unhealthy obsession by their stalker.

Hollywood has encapsulated the stalking mentality in several films. Wicker Park, Misery, and Fatal Attraction are three of the most common where females are the stalker. However, it is Single White Female that hits home the most for me. The stalker becomes obsessed with her target and attempts to ruin her life as much as possible while assuming her identity. This movie has been my life over the last 22-months.

CONCLUSION
Females who stalk a target are not as wide covered as the male stalkers. As they may not make up as large of a group as the male stalkers, they exist and are equally dangerous. The most common psychiatric disorder present is Borderline Personality Disorder and suffer from some type of delusions. They typically know their target and are highly capable of threatening their victim while turning around and assuming the victim role. The stalker’s behaviors can become confusing and convincing to others around them. However, females are just as dangerous as males when it comes to stalking and should not be taken lightly.

FURTHER READING
1. Meloy JR. Stalking: an old behavior, a new crime. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 1999. 22(1)85–99.[PubMed]
2. Zona MA, Palarea RE, Lane JC. Meloy JR, editor. Psychiatric diagnosis and the offender-victim typology of stalking. The Psychology of Stalking: Clinical and Forensic Perspectives. 1998. San Diego: Academic Press; 70–87.
3. Zona MA, Sharma K, Lane J, editors. A comparative study of erotomanic and obsessional subjects in a forensic sample. J Forensic Sci. 2005. 38894–903. [PubMed]
4. Meloy JR. The clinical risk management of stalking: someone is watching me. Am J Psychother.1997;51(2):174–185. 1997. 51(2)174–185. [PubMed]
5. National Center for Victims of Crimes. Stalking Laws. [April 22, 2008.]. Available at:www.ncvc.org/src.
6. Domestic Violence and Stalking: The Second Annual Report to Congress, July 1997. Washington, DC: US Deparmtent of Justice; 1997.
7. Tjaden P, Thoennes P. Stalking in America: Findings from the National Violence against Women Survey. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice; 1998.
8. Mullen PE, Pathé M, Purcell R. et al. Study of stalkers. Am J Psychiatry. 1999. 1561244–1249.[PubMed]
9. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. 2000. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press Inc; 323–328.
10. Mullen PE, Pathé M. The pathological extensions of love. Br J Psychiatry. 1994. 165614–623.[PubMed]
11. Galeazzi GM, Elkins K, Curci P. The stalking of mental health professionals by patients. Psychiatr Serv. 2005. 56(2)137–138. [PubMed]
12. Romans JSC, Hays JR, White TK. Stalking and related behaviors experiences by counseling center staff members from current or former clients. Profess Psychol Res Practice. 1996. 27595–599.
13. Lion JR, Herschler JA. The stalking of clinicians by their patients. In: Meloy JR, editor. The Psychology of Stalking: Clinical and Forensic Perspectives. San Diego: Academic Press; 1998.
14. Sandberg DA, McNiel DE, Binder RL. Stalking, threatening, and harassing behavior by psychiatric patients toward clinicians. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2002. 30(2)221–229. [PubMed]
15. Gentile SR, Asamen JK, Harmell PH, et al. The stalking of psychologists by their clients. Profess Psychol Res Practice. 2002. 33490–494.
16. Kaplan A. Being stalked: an occupational hazard? Psychiatr Times. 2006. [August 7, 2008.].http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/display/article/10168/46896?pageNumber=2.
17. Pathé MT, Mullen PE, Purcell R. Patients who stalk doctors: their motives and management. Med J Aust. 2002. 176(7)335–338. [PubMed]
18. Laskowski C. Theoretical and clinical perspectives of client stalking behavior. Clin Nurse Spec. 2003.17(6)298–304. [PubMed]
19. Meloy JR, Boyd C. Female stalkers and their victims. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2003. 31(2)211–219. [PubMed]
20. Purcell R, Pathe M, Mullen PE. A study of women who stalk. Am J Psychiatry. 2001. 158(12)2056–2060. [PubMed]
21. Langhinrichsen-Rohling J. An examination of sheltered battered women’s perpetration of stalking and other unwanted pursuit behaviors. Violence Vict. 2006. 21(5)579–595. [PubMed]
22. Palarea RE, Zona MA, Lane JC, Langhinrichsen-Rohling J. The dangerous nature of intimate relationship stalking: threats, violence, and associated risk factors. Behav Sci Law. 1999. 17(3)269–283.[PubMed]
23. Soliman S, Haque S, George E. Stalking and Huntington’s disease: a neurobiological link? J Forensic Sci. 2007. 52(5)1202–1204. [PubMed]
24. Meloy JR, Fisher H. Some thoughts on the neurobiology of stalking. J Forensic Sci. 2005.50(6)1472–1480. [PubMed]
25. Samuels AH, Allnutt S, Tan EK. Pursuit of the perfect mother: an unusual case of stalking. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2000. 34(1)164–166. [PubMed]
26. Reisner AD. A case of Munchausen syndrome by proxy with subsequent stalking behavior. Int J Offender Ther Comp Criminol. 2006. 50(3)245–254. [PubMed]
27. Berkow I. Baseball Natural: The Story of Eddie Waitkus. Carbondale and Edwardsville, IL: Southern Illinois University Press; 2002.
28. Feldman H. Stalking: everything you hoped you‘d never have to know. Aftra Magazine.;28(2):12. 1995. 28(2)12.
29. Bruni F. Behind the jokes: a life of pain and delusion—for Letterman stalker, a mental illness was family curse and scarring legacy. [April 22, 2008.]. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpa ge.html?res=9E0CE7DC1130F931A 15752C1A96E958260.
30. Arrest warrant for Pitt ’stalker.‘ [April 22, 2008.]. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertain ment/848992.stm.
31. Woman charged with stalking John Cusack. [April 22, 2008.].http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/Movies/04/03/cusack.stalker.ap/.
32. Mullen PE, Pathé M. Stalkers and Their Victims. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press; 2000.

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