Hidden Character Traits
If you are not aware that stalking exists, and are generally a trusting person, expecting everyone you meet to act in a normal functioning and socially acceptable manner, it is not possible to filter who you become involved with, and will fail to assess the risk of this unwanted attention. No one can look out for this unless they have heard about it, and will not know to protect themselves, sharing their life and trust, which is normal in a healthy relationship or friendship. Stalkers tend to be seen as harmless and likeable to some, but others may see through them, wary of the conversation they share, thinking they are a bit “odd”, “creepy” and a tendency to be a “loner”. Many stories of conspiracy and hard luck times are given in first time conversations hoping to gain the interest and empathy of unsuspecting victims. They typically have no personal life goals or make any contribution to society, as their time is spent focusing on their own hurts, and seeking ways to avenge those who have wronged or rejected them.
Their stalking campaign can last for many years until they move their attention to the next person, prowling for someone else, or when they slip up and are witnessed and arrested. They spend the majority of their time cyber stalking, following, gossiping, and searching for ideas, to gain revenge or seek anything they can find out about their victim, just within the boundaries of not being seen by witnesses to avoid arrest. Instead of rebuilding their life and accepting their rejection, this sinister side of their character becomes their reason for existence, and may even cost them their own reputation in their community, not knowing when or how to give up, increasing their chance of arrest.
Unable to Empathise
Healthy, full, positive relationships are hard for them to build and maintain, and if likely, there will be a need to control, and fear is instilled in the other person to keep them from leaving them. Being well thought of, is important to stalkers, and rejection is something they find hard to accept, so will only expose their true character, when “hurt” and will start a campaign of fear and intimidation on the other, sadly while enjoying doing so. This is a clear indication that they have a hidden and undiagnosed mental health issue, being unable to feel empathy towards their victim, and this has been acknowledged and documented by the PSNI in their stalking directive and policy.
When an unsuspecting victim sees this sinister side, it is often too late to protect personal information, and they will have gathered as much as possible including daily routines, place of work, and information on family and friends. Something given innocently or in good will during the association, by the unsuspecting victim, can be deliberately kept for months to be used in the future and twisted in some blackmail manner. Stalkers may lead a double life, and may even be in a marriage or steady relationship, appearing to be a functioning member of their community, able to charm and appear normal.
Experienced in Surveillance
A good early warning sign is if they are seen driving near places like your house, or work, that are out of their way, as if by coincidence, called “drive bys” on more than one occasion. Grooming may take place, where the stalker picks his/her target for months beforehand, and will make the first approaches. The internet’s dating sites and social media sites makes this much easier to do. Because of their earlier experiences of life, and being let down and hurt by others, they will be automatically suspicious of people, and will even go as far as recording others, without their knowledge, hoping to gather anything that damages the person they are stalking or to prove they are innocent if caught. Serial stalkers are the more sinister ones, as they have years of experience in how to defame and use surveillance, including following, recording on equipment, and using tracking devices, and in such a way they avoid getting caught.
Reversing the Victimhood
The perpetrator knows what he or she is doing, but lacks remorse, guilt or desire to change, and will keep this behaviour up, even if cautioned and may go away to remain “under the radar”, reappearing at times, and only stopped when they are arrested or convicted. They will pursue relentlessly, their believed right to aggrieve their victim, and if exposed, discredit their victim in any way they can. The true story is recreated, and victimhood reversed, which will have a distorted account of the truth and events that took place, as they truely believe in their justification and right to avenge “hurt for hurt”. Many of us in life, at times, secretly want to revenge someone who has inflicted emotional upset, but the difference between a healthy functioning person and a stalker is that having a conscience is not natural to them, and it becomes a plan, rather than a fleeting moment. They cannot help this, and it is not something they can control. In cases of truth distortion, the stalker will believe their account of what happened, but does not understand or accept that their behaviour is criminal and abnormal, and this is what separates them from the rest of society.
Mental Health Issues
Typical mental health issues include antisocial personality disorder, with one or more of the following traits: paranoid, sociopathic, narcissist, anxious avoidant and or psychotic. There will be also be strong evidence of denial, and rationalisation.
Personality disorders are mental health conditions that affect how someone thinks, perceives, feels or relates to others.
Signs of antisocial personality disorder and behaviours:
exploit, manipulate or violate the rights of others
lack concern, regret or remorse about other people’s distress
behave irresponsibly and show disregard for normal social behaviour
have difficulty sustaining long-term, fully functioning relationships
be unable to control their anger
lack guilt, or not learn from their mistakes
blame others for problems in their lives
repeatedly break the law without learning from police cautions
have an unjustified sense of entitlement
Criminal behaviour is a key feature of APD (antisocial personality disorder), and there’s a high risk that someone with this disorder will commit crimes and be imprisoned at some point in their life. APD is one of the most difficult types of personality disorders to treat. A person with APD will also be reluctant to seek treatment, as they believe they are the one that was wronged, and may only start therapy when ordered to do so by a court.
Unfortunately, there are times when another/s will collude with a stalker, not realising the extent of the fear the stalker has inflicted on their victim, or lengths they have gone to. Often when a relationship ends, people volunteer information that the stalker has a history, which they were afraid to share at the time of the relationship, especially if there is violence or mental health issues, or serial stalker reputation. And a stalker will certainly always stalk those associated with the victim.
There are 5 different types of stalking profilers. Stalkers normally have a pattern of behaviour and it is best to believe the unbelievable, in regards to the methods and length they will go to, to get your attention. There is also a stalking helpline available on National Stalking Helpline.
REFERENCES: -Are you Involved with a Psychopath? Michael G. Conner, Psy.D.
-Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association 1994)