Theterm “stalking” is not new, but the increase in the technologicaladvancement has enhanced its popularity. It refers to obsessive orunwanted attention that an individual gives to another person or agroup of people (National Institute of Justice, 2017). In most cases,the stalking behaviors are associated with the intimidation andharassment of the victim by facing them physically or online. Thispaper will address the history and different types of stalking.
Stalkingis as old as human behavior and relationships. However, it was notdistinguished from other categories of deviant behaviors untilrecently (The University of Tennessee, 2016). Prior to itsconsideration as a crime, stalking was classified as a form ofharassment, domestic violence, or annoyance. One of the clearestcases of stalking occurred during the Victoria Era in 1888, when aserial killer named Jack Ripper stalked police and prostitutes thathe aimed to kill (The University of Tennessee, 2016). Although therewere other cases of stalking, nobody classified them as such untilthe late 1980s and 1990s. During these periods, an increase in thenumber of celebrities who were stalked increased exponentially. Thisattracted the attention of policy makers as well as the media. Inaddition, the inclusion of certain episodes and scenes thatillustrate this kind of behavior in blockbuster films (such as CapeFear and Fatal Attraction) has made stalking a household name to-date(The University of Tennessee, 2016).
Thereare many types of stalking that are classified on the basis of themotive behind the behavior and the relationship between the victimand the stalker. The first type is a simple obsession stalking, whichoccurs when a prior relationship between the stalker and the victimexists. The two individuals could be neighbors, dating partners,lovers, or customers (Spitzberg & Cupach, 2014). The stalkingbehavior starts when a former relationship goes sour. Stalking occursas the stalkers try to look for some retribution or correct theschism. In some cases, the stalkers feel that they were mistreated bythe victim, which motivates them to adopt this behavior.
Thesecond type of stalking is referred to as erotomania. It results fromdelusion emanating from love that the stalker has for the victim. Inmost cases, delusion pertains to a romantic love or the spiritualunion as opposed to a sexual attraction that the stalker has for thevictim. In addition, the object of this affection has a higher statusand may be a total stranger to the stalker (Spitzberg & Cupach,2014). The stalker may make some efforts to contact the object, butdelusion is maintained as a secret.
Thethird type of stalking is referred to as love obsession. Similar toerotomatic characters, the victim may be known via the media anddelusion is held by the stalker. The stalker is usually diagnosedwith a primary psychiatric condition. The stalkers may be obsessedwith the target, but the victims are unaware that they are in lovewith them.
Thetechnology did not bring stalking, but it made it easy for theperpetrators to reach their targets. The use of computers and otherelectronic devices to harass other people is referred to ascyberstalking (Hazelwood & Koon-Magnin, 2013). It involves theapplication of the internet to harass an organization, a group ofpeople, or individuals. The internet allows the stalkers to useemail, social media, or other online platforms to conduct identifytheft, threaten, gather information about their targets, monitoring,or solicit for sex (Hazelwood & Koon-Magnin, 2013). Cyberstalkingmay also include the use of electronic devices to conduct defamation,libel, slander, and spread false accusations. Most importantly, thetechnology allows the stalkers to hide their identities when theyharass their targets.
Stalkingis an old behavior that has been in existence in the entire humanhistory. However, its distinction from other forms of harassment tookplace within the last three decades. The internet has increased thenumber of cases of stalking by making it easier for stalkers toaccess their targets.
Hazelwood,D. & Koon-Magnin, S. (2013). Cyber stalking and cyber harassmentlegislation in the United States: A qualitative analysis.InternationalJournal f Cyber Criminology,7 (2), 155-168.
NationalInstitute of Justice (2017). Stalking. NIJ.Retrieved March 16, 2017, fromhttps://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/stalking/pages/welcome.aspx
TheUniversity of Tennessee (2016). Transformation project: Is stalking anew phenomenon? TheUniversity of Tennessee.Retrieved March 16, 2017, fromhttp://www.utc.edu/womens-center/transformation-project/whatis/stalking.php
Spitzberg,H. & Cupach, R. (2014). Thedark side of relationship pursuit: From attraction to obsession andstalking.Abingdon: Routledg.