Exploring the Motivations Behind a Stalker’s Behavior


The word ‘stalking’ is used around these days very casually. You might hear people say that they’ve stalked someone online even if they just browsed the other person’s Instagram account one time. By doing this, the meaning of the word is diluted, and the seriousness of it is lost along the lines. Stalking is a serious crime and can be a dangerous one at that. Losing sight of its severity might prove to be harmful to victims, letting the stalker off the hook easily. You might meet a stalker at any point in life at any place. It can be a stranger, a work colleague, or even your previous partner- the possibilities are endless.

Read More: Mental Health and Women

This article aims to address the seriousness of stalking and lets you properly understand stalking behaviour. This will enable you to recognize signs of stalking earlier and prepare you to deal with it.

What is Stalking?

Stalking refers to the action of pursuing a person without their consent. It is directed at one person and is characterized by the victim experiencing fear for their safety, and sometimes even that of their loved ones. It can be done virtually or physically. A stalker uses various methods to harass their victims. They might constantly follow them, send messages, spread rumours or even send gifts. January is recognized as ‘National Stalking Awareness Month’ to support victims who have survived and to bring attention to the growing rates of this crime.

Motives Behind Stalking

Motives differ from one stalker to another. However, they can be divided into common categories. The most common is simple obsessional stalking, where the stalker has feelings of being wronged or rejected. In this case, the stalker is usually known to the victim. In love-obsessional stalking, a stranger or an acquaintance uses stalking as a resort to get the victim’s attention.

Misleading Ideas Behind Stalking

This kind of stalking has been made casual due to the repeated portrayal of the scenario of a stranger pursuing a girl constantly in romantic movies. A stalker with erotomania (a mental health condition) might believe that the victim is in love with them and that they are meant to be, leading to stalking behaviour. A small percentage of stalking cases are also a result of false victimization, where the stalker portrays themselves as the victim. Stalking can also be classified by different systems based on severity or manifestation styles.

Stalking has been identified as a crime just over a decade ago. Section 354D of the Indian Penal Code criminalizes stalking. It states that a stalker can be fined and imprisoned for a period that may extend up to 3 years. Repeat offenders will have to face imprisonment for 3 to 7 years, along with a fine of not less than 1 Lakh rupees. However, the sentence can be reduced if the court is provided with a special and adequate reason. It is important to note that this act only supports women who’ve been subjected to stalking. Men, who might also find themselves as victims (although less common), do not have adequate protection.

Identifying a Stalker:

Harassment in cases of stalking might begin with a constant attempt to establish contact with the victim. Sometimes it ends at that, but other times, the stalkers take a more severe step. While it isn’t possible to determine who will become a stalker, some factors increase the chances of stalking. If a person feels that you’ve led them on and then rejected them, whether these feelings are genuine or not, they might exhibit stalking behaviour characterized by fear of abandonment.

A stalker might simply be overly obsessed with you. Some stalkers find themselves believing and living their fantasies where they have been in a relationship with you. They are also likely to make up memories in their head that align with their fantasy. People who are unable to recognize boundaries may also be more prone to stalking behaviour. They are likely to lack healthy coping mechanisms. As a result, they turn to stalking as a solution to cope with any problem.

If you doubt that you are being stalked, here are some signs to look out for:

  • This person is constantly around, irrespective of where you go.
  • You find them in places outside where you wouldn’t expect to encounter them.
  • You are unable to find some of your personal belongings (even after you look for them).
  • Signs that may indicate that someone has been in your home.
  • Receiving notifications of unknown devices trying to access your accounts.
  • If they used to be close to you (such as a previous partner), they try to manipulate you into meeting them.
  • They know personal information that you don’t recall sharing.

Read More: Increasing Crime Against Women Impacting Their Mental Health

Types of Stalkers:

As mentioned earlier in the article, anyone can be your stalker. However, there are some typologies attached to it. Let’s have a look at them.

  • The Rejected Stalker: Usually a former partner or a family partner whom you’ve cut ties with. Stalking is a result of wanting to reconcile or seeking revenge in this case.
  • The Resentful Stalker: Stalking behaviour arises from the feeling that the victim has mistreated them.
  • The Intimacy Seeking Stalker: These kids of stalkers are usually lonely as dwell upon a stranger who caught their attention.
  • The Predatory Stalker: Stalkers of this nature wish to obtain sexual gratification.
  • The Incompetent Suitor: Insensitive to the type of distress of the victim, this kind of stalker seeks to gain a short-term relationship or a sexual encounter.

Psychological Theories about Stalking:

Stalking behaviour has its roots in personality development. Some theories may justify stalking behaviour in people. Let’s have a look at these theories.

1. Attachment Theory:

This theory focuses on the relationship between the caregivers and the child in in early years, and its impact on one’s adult self. Behaviours in terms of relationships in later stages of life are impacted by the early relationships. Thus a stalker might show insecure attachment. The obsessive behaviours that make them seek to control and be close might be a result of the fear of abandonment.

2. Relationship Goal Pursuit Theory:

This theory views the pursuit of goals in the context of relationships. A stalker might not be able to accurately interpret social cues, thus being misguided on how a relationship is to be pursued. Stalking can be a result of pursuing a relationship genuinely, without even realizing extreme behaviour. There is a faded sense of boundary in interpersonal relationships, which shapes the stalker’s attitudes.

3. Biological and Neurobiological Theory:

This theory looks at the role of genetics in influencing behaviour. Genetics might contribute to the predisposition of aggressiveness or impulsive behaviours. These may let a person ease into stalking tendencies. Stalking behaviour can also be a result of abnormalities in the brain structure, especially in those areas that are linked to impulse control and social cognition.

What should you do?

A 2007 study on ‘Victims of stalking in India: A study of girl college students in Tirunelveli City’ states that the five most common methods of stalking harassment were following, unsolicited telephone calls, spying, sending letters, and efforts to communicate directly with the victim. Aside from that the study also mentions that most stalking cases were not reported. Thus, the statement in 2022 that 1 stalking case is recorded every 55 minutes in India, does not even cover the entire truth.

Knowing that the stalking situation is worse, each person needs to take some preventive measures to avoid having an encounter with a stalker. Always make sure that your house is properly locked. Set boundaries that will keep you safe. Don’t resort to the same route for your everyday travel. In case you find that a person is trying to get close and you don’t feel comfortable, be stern and let them know that you don’t want to have any contact with them.

Exit mobile version