Friday 26 November 2010

Profile of a cyber stalker

There are three basic type of stalkers
Simple obsessional stalkers, delusional stalkers and vengeful stalkers. There is of course often overlap of these basic definitions.
A simple obsessional stalker is anything but simple. They are typically the person who refuses to believe that a relationship is over, although they have been told repeatedly that it is.
Do not be misled by this type thinking they are harmlessly in love. Many of them were emotionally abusive and controlling during the relationship and many even have a criminal record unrelated to stalking.
This is the most common type of stalker.
The next type is the delusional stalker, they frequently have never had any contact with their victim beyond the boundaries of their own mind. They may suffer from mental illness like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or erotomania. What they have in common is a false belief that keeps them tied to their victims. In erotomania they believe that the victim loves them, even though they have never met. A good example of this is the man that stalked and killed Rebecca Schaeffer.
Another type of delusional stalker may believe that he and the victim are destined to be together and even though they may not have met if he only just shows how much he loves her then she will love him and they will be together as it is meant to be. An example of this type of stalker is John Hinckley Jr. that shot president Reagan in order to show Jody Foster how much he loved her.
A delusional stalker is usually a loner, unmarried, socially immature and does not possess the interpersonal skills to maintain friendships and relationships. They have had few if any sexual encounters. They most often choose victims that are unobtainable being a celebrity or a married woman, their doctor, teacher, nurse or therapist. Those helping professions are at risk for attracting a delusional stalker.
Delusional stalkers are very difficult to get rid of and many go on for many years fixated on one person.
The last type of stalker is the vengeful stalker. They get angry at their victim due to some slight either real or imagined. We have all heard of disgruntled employees, these are vengeful stalkers and can be just as dangerous as the delusional. They stalk to get even and believe that "they" have been victimized. Ex-spouses can turn into this type of stalker and violence is all to common a result.
What motivates these stalkers?
Sexual Harassment Online
People often say that the Internet is simply the offline world moved online, and it is in many respects. Sexual Harassment offline is all to common and fortunately in North America we have laws to protect people from discrimination and harassment in the workplace and many other venues.
If Sexual Harassment is common offline it is rampant online. There are many reasons for this. The first being that the ratio of men to women online is about 2:1 so the competition for women's attention in the chat rooms is pretty intense. If you chose a feminine nickname to use in a chat room expect to be bombarded by propositioned by all the men in the room. If looking for intelligent conversation with people don't use nicknames like Bambi and hang out in the #Romance channel. You won't find it.
Online the usual pickup lines although corny but polite are thrown to the wind and instead they come right out and ask you very personal questions about your age, sex, location. They may start the conversation with an outright request for cybersex or your phone number to participate in phone sex.
There is very little respect shown and often the sexual harassment is so bad that many women avoid chatting online altogether. The presumed anonymity of the Internet seems to make some peoples manners and sense of etiquette fly out window. They show the worst of their personality and often exhibit behavior that they would have never shown in real life. Being aggressive and rude to other chatters, demanding and insistent with members of the opposite sex and generally people we would never choose to have in our personal lives. So don't tolerate them online either.
Again use a genderless nickname and don't advertise that your looking for romance online. The chances of your finding it are very slim and advertising for it pretty well guarantees you're going to get the obnoxious people messaging you like crazy. Try to use the same manners online that you use offline when dealing with cashiers and bank tellers. Please and thank you's are definitely in order as are polite conversation.
When joining a chat room, sit quietly for a few minutes to see the flow of the conversation before jumping in. This also may alert you to any people in the room you wish to avoid. If the operators of the chat forum allow people to be verbally abused and treated as sexual objects then perhaps you should find another place to chat that has some standards of behavior.
Love obsessional stalking has been in the news a fair bit in the last few years due to some high profile cases such as the murder of Rebecca Shaffer the actress and the stalking of famous people like David Letterman and Brad Pitt.
All of these cases are examples of Love Obsessional stalking. The victim of this type of stalker does not even have to have ever had a relationship with the person or even know them for that matter. The love is perceived by someone who is mentally unstable.
They imagine every day actions like walking on the same side of the street or buying the same kind of orange juice at the supermarket are secrets signs and signals you are giving them of your undying love. Bottom line the stalking is not about "You" at all but very much about the stalker and their state of mind.
For this reason avoiding this type of stalker, although they are not overly common can be difficult. Because you do not have to show them any attention or affection in order for them to become fixated on you, how can one prevent this from happening?
Love obsessional stalking also takes place online. Sometimes you form a casual friendship with someone online, or even a romantic one. When you wish to withdraw from this relationship the other person becomes obsessional. Constantly messaging you or e-mailing you. Even if you have never spoken to this person in real life they may seek you out finding out your offline information so that they can telephone or try to visit or mail you gifts. They may shower you with compliments and love or bombard you with hate mail but the bottom line is the same, they are obsessed and your a victim of stalking.
Every case of stalking should be taken seriously even those where there is no violence threatened in any manner. The case of Rebecca Shaffer is a prime example of this. He wrote her love letters and sent her gifts then showed up at her door one day and shot her dead in cold blood with no warning. "Never" assume that someone is harmless because they have not threatened you with violence. That can change at any moment.
If you feel that someone is obsessed with you, stop all communications immediately. Avoid going to the chat rooms where you meet. Change your online identity if necessary. Yes it is inconvenient, but your safety is at stake and that is more important than convenience.
Hate, Revenge, Vendettas (Flame Wars Out Of Hand)
What is a flame war? Well a flame war is basically an argument that is online. Someone voices an opinion that another disagrees with and the fight is on. Name calling, threatening from both sides.
How does it differ from harassment and stalking? Well the key factor is that a flame war is two sided. Both parties are involved in the flaming and arguing. Both respond to each others mails, posts etc. Flame wars are easy to get into and often difficult to get out of. You want to express your opinion, you want the person to understand your side. You "want" to win the argument. But as is the case in real life often "turning the other cheek" and walking away is absolutely the best path to take. You really don't "know" the person your arguing with and can not predict how seriously this person will take the argument. Do you want this person to trace you to your home in order to win your point of view? Of course not. So be the bigger person and walk away.
What happens when you want to walk away and the other person won't let you? This is when a flame war becomes harassment and perhaps stalking. They may post continuously about you in a defamatory manner. Create a Web site about you or your group or go as far as tracing you and calling you at home or work or even coming to see you offline
When anger fuels the harassment and someone can't let go of that anger you are dealing with a potentially dangerous situation and you need to take action. Stop posting on the site of the flame war. Don't respond to provoking posts or e-mails. Block the person from messaging you and from sending you e-mails. Disappear online by changing your identity and if necessary your Internet Provider. Your safety is more important than the inconvenience of having to change your online identity.
If any threat to your person is made make a report to your local police taking any logs or e-mails with you as evidence. Keep all correspondence in order for them to be able to be traced.
Ego & Power Trips
Ego & Power Trip stalkers are the most difficult to guard against. Like a gang that wanders the streets looking for likely victims, these stalker are out to prove that they can terrorize someone. And they don’t usually care who it is. They often choose their victims at random. Sometimes they choose someone they perceive as the weakest in the room. The ego & power trip stalkers are the bullies online. And they are looking for a fight.
Surprisingly, sometimes kids (especially mild-mannered, otherwise well-behaved) tend to masquerade as ego and power trip stalkers. They see it as innocent fun, and have no idea that the people on the other side are genuinely frightened.

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