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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Stalkers 101: Info for Writers

My eye
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Book Review - Stopping a Stalker - A Cop’s Guide to making the System Work for You by Captain Robert L. Snow. Amazon link

Growing up, my family had a stalker. The craziness that was part of our daily lives was the result of my father’s poor choices and even worse actions. Maybe he deserved his “Fatal Attraction” nightmare, but I’m sure that I did not. 

As an adult, I got my own stalker. This time it was because of my husband’s actions - he said “no,” when a sociopathic neighbor fixated on his saying, "yes." I was in the way of her desires, so I got a whole lot of crazy thrown into my world. This included our needing to put 24-hour video surveillance on our house, and a year of jail time dangling over my neighbor's head if she ignored her restraining order.

In my book WEAKEST LYNX, I write what I know. And what I know is how a victim feels when there is a stalker in the picture. It feels like living in a war zone - you never know when the bomb will fall. You never know how destructive it will be.

The Gift of Fear Gavin DeBecker wrote about stalker behavior and what an individual could do to protect themselves. I agree with what he wrote. And if you find yourself in the position of being stalked OR if you are writing about a stalking victim, I encourage you to read his information. 

From my perspective as a former stalking victim, his advice makes sense to me. In my life as a science-experiment, testing out my own theories on how to handle my situation, I found that following the protocol set up by DeBecker led to manageable outcomes. When I deviated from the criterion I had set up for myself, and DeBecker warns against, I recall how empowered this woman became, and then it was a wilder, hairy-er ride.
Another book which I think is incredibly helpful is called: Stopping a Stalker - A Cop’s Guide to making the System Work for You by Captain Robert L. Snow.

Snow believes that stalking is a form of terrorism (I concur). It is now illegal in all fifty states though the definition of stalking changes from state to state. 

  • Stalking laws are fairly new - no state had them until 1990.
  • Stalker statistical tracking didn’t begin until 1994. 
  • National statistics indicate that 90% of the women killed every year by current or former spouses were stalked prior to their deaths. 
  • Experts put the chance of being stalked at 1 in 20 conservatively, or as frequently as 1 in 10 making stalking a crime whose victim numbers equal all major crimes put together.

Stalking is a little bit hard to define at times. Not in my case with the neighbor. She was pursuing me for harm's sake. But what about the guy who wants the girl? Is he really supposed to stop when she says no? Hmm. Well, if she says no and she means it - if his actions are unwanted, unwarranted, and uncomfortable, by law, he needs to stay away. Sorry all of you romance writers! Your hero is probably going to get a big old restraining order on his record if he keeps that mess up.

Simple Obsession Stalkers 
  • Stalkers who were in an intimate relationship, and they can’t take “no” for “no.” 
  • Usually these stalkers were domineering and/or abusive in the relationship. 
  • This usually doesn’t start with physical attacks but a conversation - “Can I just talk to you.”

Love Obsession Stalkers

  • Are people who become fixated on a person where there was NO intimate relationship in their past. Maybe they saw their victim at work or on a bus…the love-obsessed stalker believes that their relationship is mystical and special - ordained. 
  • These people usually had a “chronic failure in social and sexual relationships through young adulthood…” (p.21). 
  • These people are often delusional. 
  • Celebrity Stalking falls into this category.

Cause Stalkers
  • Believe in some cause such as anti-abortionists who stalk and kill the doctors.

Revenge Stalkers
  • Seek to punish someone for a wrong - perhaps they were fired, etc.
Serial Stalking  
  • Experts believe that half of the stalkers have stalked others. 

Other Stalkers
  • Some stalkers do not stalk out of love but hate (as in my case - second time around). 
  • Stalking becomes revenge.
Stalking Traits

  • Will not take no for an answer (so as Gavin DeBecker says - don’t answer them. Even to say “no.”)
  • Display obsessive personalities
  • Have above average intelligence
  • Usually do not have relationships outside of their victim.
  • Don’t display normal levels of anxiety or discomfort 
  • Often have low self-esteem
  • Do not see their actions as being hurtful (though my stalker gloried in knowing she was causing me dis-ease)
  • Often have a mean streak when they are frustrated leading them to violence. How violent? Often deadly. 
  • Display Sociopathic thinking. (May I also suggest the book the Sociopath Next Door?)
(pp 23-26)

“According to the National Victim Center: ‘While this kind of stalker may or may not prove to have psychological disorders, all clearly have personality disorders.’ A few of these personality disorders,according to the Center, include:

  1. Socially maladjusted and inept
  2. Emotionally immature
  3. Often the subject of feelings of powerlessness
  4. Unable to succeed in relationships by socially acceptable means
  5. Jealousy, bordering on paranoia
  6. Extremely insecure about themselves
  7. Often suffering from low self-esteem
(p 38)

In the case of intimate partner stalking three-phase cycle seems to be followed:

  1. Tension building (hundreds of phone calls, surveillance…)
  2. Violence against victim, victim’s friends, victim’s family including angry face-to-face confrontation, physical assaults, kidnapping, and murder.
  3. Hearts and flowers - reverts to gentle tactics begging forgiveness.
It may appear that they have abandoned the stalking all together. This pause is actually a very dangerous time period because the victim might believe that it’s over, and she can get on with her life. The women let down their guard leaving them unprepared and unprotected when it starts up again - usually violently. (pp40-41)

This book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for writers who have a stalker scenario and those who find themselves in this life circumstance. 

As always, a big thank you ThrillWriters and readers for stopping by. Thank you, too, for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you 

helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.


  1. I have a stalker book too!

    Luckily, most of my pursuers (I won't call them stalkers because things didn't really get to the level of dangerous, just uncomfortable) eventually abandoned the pursuit without any intervention.

    I did have one stranger-stalker who I did have to call 911 to get the police involved on, and he did quit once the police made a visit to his home, but it left me pretty freaked out for at least a year afterward. I feel very badly for the people who have stalkers who go on for years and years. Can you imagine having someone stalk you for eight years?

    1. Well, yes, I can imagine it. I was stalked for years and years the first time. The only thing that stopped the first stalker was my move to Europe as a college student. And "pretty freaked out" is an accurate way to describe the feeling.

      The second time, it took 2 years from the first incidents to get the court protections in place. This woman would do things that ranged from the extremely frightening to just outrageous, even with the restraining order. For example, one morning I was going to get in my car and I looked over at what had been an abundant flower garden. Now it was only holes and dirt. I drove up the street and low and behold my garden was planted in front of the woman's house. The police said that because there were no serial numbers on the plants they couldn't prove they were mine, though all the neighbors went over and said that they were. The police confronted her with the theft when she was throwing a pool party for her husband's colleagues. She was out in her front yard screaming at the cops. Soon after her husband sold their house. Thank goodness.

      It's a horrible way to live - though it makes good fodder for a plot.


  2. I do have a stalker story which I am not currently working on but hope to return to at some point. This is good information. I too have had experiences with people who had stalker like tendencies, although my own experience doesn't seem as severe as yours.

  3. As I talk about this and write about this, people tell me their own stories. Men and women, it's amazing and disturbing how frequently people have to deal with this crime.

    I'm so sorry this happened in your life.