Sometimes, when a person realizes he or she has a stalker, it may have already gotten to the point where the situation can be downright scary. It is helpful to understand the difference between someone being a bit over-friendly and the warning signs of a stalker. This way you can take the proper steps to distance themselves before things get too intense. So, how can you tell when someone is potentially dangerous? Here’s how:
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What is a Stalker?
According to vocabulary.com, the term stalker can describe:
“…anyone who sneaks around, but it usually means a person who follows one specific individual obsessively.”
This article is focused on the latter part of that definition: the obsessive fixation on a specific person. A stalker can be anyone, male or female, young or old. Often stalkers begin this behaviour after a break-up, the pain of ending a relationship causing them to act irrationally. Often they can be initially charming before things turn ugly.
Stalkers do what they do for all sorts of reasons: anger, spite, frustration, mental health issues and so on. Substance abuse and personality disorders are two common factors often found in stalkers. Based on psychological study, stalker types have been broken down into four main categories: intimacy seekers, romantic incompetents, resentful stalkers and predators. Some of these types are further discussed below.
Of course it has to be pointed out that stalking can be in the eye of the beholder. Something that seems like a romantic gesture to one person could be seem like an invasion of privacy to another. So before you call the police on the awkward guy who has sent you one too many text messages, try talking to him first, it could be a simple misunderstanding.
Who is Vulnerable to Stalkers?
A large scale study conducted by a psychologist at San Diego State University found that 2 to 13 per cent of males and 8 to 32 per cent of females are victims of stalking at some point in there lives. Anyone can be the victim of stalking, however some types of people are more at risk than others:
- Those who work in media, TV journalism, fashion, music or any other high profile role are often the victims of stalking.
- According to WebMD, the people who are most vulnerable to stalkers are the saviour type. This means the sort of person who tries to save or fix others at the expense of themselves. If you are prone to playing the martyr then you may need to be extra-careful.
What are The Warning Signs of a Stalker?
How can you tell if someone is a stalker? Well, you can’t until they start to stalk you. However, there may be some early indicators that you have a stalker on your hands. Let’s take a look at some of the warning signs of a stalker to watch out for so that you can protect yourself from these kinds of situations.
- You begin receiving additional unwanted contact soon after meeting someone for the first time. Now, let’s be clear here. We’re not talking about someone who sends you a Facebook request the same day that met you. We’re talking about someone who starts calling you repeatedly or sending you emails constantly. If it seems like the contact is outside the societal norm, this could be a warning sign.
- If someone makes comments to you that one would only find amusing from a long time friend, but you just met the person in question, this could be one of the signs of a stalker. Don’t just assume that they are super friendly. If someone invades your personal space early on in the relationship, draw the line and let him or her know immediately.
- If someone is clingy and insists on joining you at events, or is always asking where you are going next. If you don’t want the person to know where you’re going next, just tell them you’re going home.
Types of Stalkers
- The intimacy-seeking stalker is usually delusional. They actually get it into their head that the victim loves them or will love them if they pursue her/him.
- The socially backward stalker is socially awkward and has no idea what the social norms are with dating. Their stalking is more a result of their social ineptness.
- The predator. This stalker is the most dangerous and he uses sexual gratification and violence to get his way. He is abusive and many times has never met his obsession. This guy is disturbing because he plans meticulously how he will stalk, and he experiences sexual fantasies with the planning and rehearsing of his plan.
What to Do
If you think you have a stalker then you may need to act. The first thing you should do is not panic. You are not alone in this.
There are a number of strategies that can be used to keep the stalker at arm’s length:
- Before taking any serious action it is vital that you let this person know that you do not want their attention. They may simply be socially awkward and haven’t received any subtle signals you have sent them. Be explicit. Say something like “Stay away from me! I do not want to spend time with you.” This may be enough to get the message through. Better this than damaging someone’s reputation simply over a misunderstanding.
- Don’t keep quiet. Tell your family, tell your friends. Yes, this can be embarrassing, but that is better than the alternative. Give them the identity of the stalker and ask them to direct the person away from you or, if need be, call the police.
- Once you have told the stalker clearly to leave you alone, avoid all contact with them. If you have been clear and they have not respected your wishes then there is no reason to communicate with them again or meet with them. Doing so may simply give them the feeling that they are making progress with you.
- Document the situation. Make notes of the exact time that the stalker contacted you and by what method. If you document what is going on it will be easier for the police to do something about the situation.
Also if someone breaks into your house, tries to harm you, or emotionally manipulates you by threatening to commit suicide, you must get the police involved. Such extreme signs of a stalker require instant attention. Seek outside protection and don’t allow the stalker to freeze your life with fears and worries.
If you are an obvious victim for stalkers, having a saviour complex or working in a high-profile job for example, it may be necessary to try to avoid the type of personality that indicates stalking tendencies altogether and to watch out for these warning signs of a stalker. If someone seems over-eager, shares too much, or seems way too interested for a normal person, try to not get their hopes up. Be careful and don’t give out your phone numbers or social media contacts. Also don’t allow them to drive you home or meet with your friends. The less they’ll know about you, the safer you are. At the first sign of danger, be firm and let them know you are not interested. A stalker might get delusional and imagine you’re playing games or that your “No” means yes. So be very clear and down allow a room for misinterpretations. Finally, keep everyone around you in the know. Let everyone know this particular person is not welcomed in your life. A stalker might manipulate people into giving them information about you, so let everyone know you want nothing to do with the stalker and that they have been harassing you for a while. Keep your house secure and your doors locked until the police take care of the situation.
Have you seen any more signs of a stalker that we didn’t mention? Tell us about the missing signs of a stalker in the comment section below and don’t forget to share your experience with us.
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