How stalking has been made easier by the internet, mobiles and social networks

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Jennifer Perry

StalkingMost victims don’t immediately think “I have a stalker”.

It starts off much more subtly.

The victim may just think this person is acting a bit odd, then they find them annoying, being a nuisance; they don’t take hints or respond to a direct request for them to leave the victim alone.

Later, when the victim realises that this person is not going to stop bothering them, and that they have become obsessed, they become frightened.

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Stalking is a serious crime. It’s the name we give to someone forcing you to have a relationship with them against your will. It leaves victims feeling helpless, paranoid, mistrustful, anxious, frustrated, angry, frightened and even suicidal. It affects their work, relationships and health.

The most serious stalking cases can lead to serious assault, rape or murder.

It leaves all victims devastated.

There are five types of stalkers

  1. Intimacy seekers want to create an intimate, loving relationship. They are delusional and believe the victim is a soul mate and that they were ‘meant’ to be together. They may have never met; for example the victim could be someone famous.
  2. Incompetent suitors are men with poor social or courting skills. They are fixated on someone. They sometimes have a sense of entitlement and believe they should be in a sexual relationship with the person they desire. The victims are usually not available, because either dating or married.
  3. Rejected stalkers pursue their victims in order to reverse, correct, or avenge a rejection (e.g. divorce, separation, termination).
  4. Resentful stalkers pursue a vendetta because of a sense of grievance against the victims – motivated mainly by the desire to frighten and distress the victim.
  5. Predatory stalkers spy on the victim in order to prepare and plan an attack – often sexual – on the victim. They are often sadistic and can include serial rapists and paedophiles.

Most stalkers have personality disorders and are delusional. Have you tried to reason with an obsessive, delusional person? It is impossible. That is why resolving staking is so difficult. People get stalked for years, not just one or two years but 5, 10 years…

Stalkers will not only stalk the primary victim, but also those around the victim, in order to gather intelligence about the victim and disrupt those relationships. They will also use those relationships to intimidate or humiliate the victim. It usually works because friends and family don’t understand or can’t cope with the situation leaving the victim isolated and more traumatised.

Technology is increasing stalking

Stalking is increasing due to technology. The biggest percentage perpetrators of stalking are ex-partners. They account for approximately 60% of cases.

Breaking up is hard to do, but it is even more difficult in the post internet, social network and mobile phone world.

StudyA study published in September 2012 in “Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking” found that “stalking” an ex on Facebook – or frequently checking his or her profile and friends list – is linked with “greater current distress over the breakup, more negative feelings, more sexual desire, more longing for the ex-partner, and lower personal growth.”

Indeed, experts say Facebook can prolong post-breakup pain, while delaying emotional recovery.

There will be those broken-hearted people who go from checking up on their ex to becoming obsessed, especially if they didn’t want the relationship to end. They start off trying to win the person back and when that doesn’t work they become angry and revengeful.

We are also seeing an increase in stranger or acquaintance type staking or abuse.

Our digital presences mean that people you meet casually, or who read your Twitter, or is a friend of friend, can link to your online information.

Social networks offer a history about you – an insight into who you really are, your friends, likes, dislikes, sense of humour, and don’t forget all those pictures. You can get a feel for the person without having ever met them.

That is all some individuals need to decide they want a relationship with you.

Stalking is easy with modern technology

In the pre-internet/mobile days, it was just harder to stalk someone.

Mostly stalking meant sending letters, standing outside for hours at a time, or showing up at the person’s work, pub or grocery store. The stalker had to live close. It took dedication and time. The stalker didn’t get a lot of information, yes they knew where you were going but not how you were feeling, who you were talking to on the phone, what you were saying.

The internet has changed all of that.

Our digital lives give stalkers the opportunity to gather large amounts of information and insight into us. If they can access an email account, they can read our correspondence, find contacts, send out emails that can embarrass or alienate people.

WebcamSpyware is a popular tool – for £35 they can install spyware on a computer and see everything you do online, access passwords and turn on your webcam to watch and listen to you.

The amount of surveillance technology available online is astonishing. It is cheap, easy to find, easy to use.

The stalker can access it from their computer – no longer do they need to stand outside in the rain. Nope, to a stalker a bottle of wine and the internet is their night’s entertainment.

If you are being harassed or stalked you will find advice on how to protect yourself on

Jennifer Perry is an expert on digital stalking and abuse. In 2012 she wrote: "Digital Stalking - UK Guidelines to Technology Risks for Victims". Learn more on her website at

4 comments on “How stalking has been made easier by the internet, mobiles and social networks”

  1. Joe

    Of course, as always, only men are used as examples. You ought to know the nutty bitch I dealt with once.

  2. I

    Thanks for a well written article. I'm male and a victim of a long term campaign of stalking and harassment from a woman I barely know. Your article covers many of the things that have happened to me. The woman who stalks was, I thought, a casual acquaintance and I started to get concerned she was odd and over familiar. In my case I found her incessant contact over social media intrusive and was really unhappy about how she'd introduce herself to people I really did know posing as a close friend. Even then I didn't see it as stalking, just someone being a bit odd. When I tried to let her know gently that we weren't close friends things got really frightening. She launched a blog site to document her imagined grievances and vigorously attempted to network with people I know. She's built police visits into her fantasies as vindicating her grievances and monitors my every movement producing a commentary on social media.

    One of the main things I've learnt, too late, is what you say, that you cannot deal an obsessive, delusional person as though they're rational. A normal person would take notice if the police knocked on their door but an obsessive, delusional person can not only shrug it off but they can actually take it as proof their delusions are real.

    It seems to me that the woman who stalks me needs mental health support and I think it reflects badly on society as a whole that we're apparently not able to support people like this even though we can often identify them quite easily. It suggests a society where we lack compassion both for those needing mental health support and for those that become their victims.

    1. Action Against Stalking · in reply to I

      Both comments are absolutely right men do get stalked not only by women but jealous colleagues or acquaintances.

      Men who are stalked are usually targeted financially or have their reputation attacked. Women who stalk want to ruin their reputation, disrupt their victim's relationships and/or cause them financial pain by driving away clients are getting them fired.

      They will use a range of tactics as mentioned often they are system abusers who use an abuse system to cause the victim difficulties such as reporting them to the police, their company, reporting on social media for abuse etc. Often they claim they are the victim.

      It doesn't matter if you are man or women being stalked is scary and difficulty for everyone.

      Jennifer Perry

  3. Amanda

    Good article. My husband was stalked for a short amount of time (sounds like we got off lucky). He delivered to hospitals and businesses around the city we were living in. He said "good morning" to a woman he walked past in a hospital hallway one day and she became obsessed. She got his phone number from an office (they had on file in case they needed to contact him for deliveries) and texted him that she really wanted to get to know him and thought he was good looking. It creeped him out that his number wasn't used for work purposes. He responded that although he was flattered he was unavailable because he was married and had a family, but hoped she would have a good day. She texted back that she understood, it sucked he was married and she hoped his life went well. Obviously he thought that was it. 1AM in the morning we woke up to his phone going off. She was texting him a conversation she was having with herself but was pretending to include him….?? Things like, "Ya Ill be ok, Im sorry I bugged you….Ya I'm allright." We ignored it. The next day she just showed up in a place he stopped at for lunch, she obviously had to have watched him for a while and knew some of his schedule. She was dressed up and said she was meeting him for lunch. My husband told her he could not/would not meet her for lunch, ever. He told her he was happily married and didn't want anything to do with her (politely). She hugged him and left. an hour later the nude texts started coming, with nasty comments about what she would do to him. He got more firm and told her no and she flipped. For days we got terrible messages, in all hours of the night. It was terrifying. He had to go to work and have his delivery route changed, his phone number changed etc. Fortunately it stopped! But I know it could have gotten much worst. These are situations that must be taken very seriously/

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