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Profiling the Stalker. Dr Shaunagh Foy. From a stalking victim support forum.

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profiling the stalker

Profiling the Stalker

Dr Shaunagh Foy

from a stalking victim support forum
From a stalking victim support forum

“it's like damned if you do, damned if you don't I tried to explain to my friends that when I see and ignore him, he escalates....if I see and react to him in a negative way, he escalates so, I just avoid him seeing me all together, but still, if he doesn't see me, he works harder to track down when I come and go so he can "see" in other words he escalates at least he's calmed down with the vandalism...”

Profiling the Stalker

interesting features
Interesting Features
  • Different types
  • Dangerousness
  • Psychological process
  • Escalation
stalking behaviours
Ambush their victim

Phone repeatedly (hang-ups)

Pursue or follow their target

Make obscene phone calls

Make threatening phone calls

Display weapons


Vandalise property

Assume targets identity online

Assume another’s identity online

Send numerous letters

Send numerous emails

Deliver unwanted gifts

Deliver repulsive gifts

Constrain or confine target

Threaten suicide

Harm the target

Harm family members

Harm a pet

Recruit others to help

Stalking Behaviours

Stalking behaviours can be diverse

Profiling the Stalker

perpetrator characteristics
Perpetrator Characteristics
  • Usually male
  • In his (her) early 30s or 40s
  • Employed, but high unemployment (22%) is common
  • Single or separated (65%)
  • Knows their target (66%)
  • Suffering from a mental disorder or personality disorder (80%)

Profiling the Stalker

perpetrator characteristics1
Perpetrator Characteristics
  • The stalker harasses the target for less than one month (55%)
  • The stalker harasses the target between 1 and 6 months (23%)
  • The stalker threatens his (her) target (29%), and damages property (23%).
  • 73% of those who are attacked had been warned by the stalker
  • Stalkers will murder approximately 2% of victims

Profiling the Stalker


Overview of topicsTypologiesEx-intimate StalkersAcquaintance StalkersStranger StalkersDangerousnessPsychology of the StalkerWomen who stalk

types of typologies
Types of Typologies

Typologies can be based upon

  • characteristics of the victim
  • relationship between the stalker and the victim
  • motivations of the stalker
  • psychological characteristics of the stalkers

Profiling the Stalker

stalker victim relationship british crime survey
Stalker-Victim Relationship (British Crime Survey)

Profiling the Stalker

type of obsession
Type of Obsession

Profiling the Stalker

type of motivation
Type of Motivation

Profiling the Stalker

ex intimate stalking
Ex-intimate Stalking
  • Average to above average intelligence
  • Dependant personalities
  • Controlling personalities
  • Often Narcissistic
  • Antisocial personality type (“mean streak”)
  • The time of break up is a dangerous time
  • Most stalkers don't have any relationship outside the one they are trying to re-establish
  • Violent partners try to maintain control
ex intimate stalking1
Ex-Intimate Stalking

Shaun and Jennifer Vordermann

  • Murdered at 24 years by her husband on August 18th, 2008
  • Shaun was furious with her because she had not responded to the hundreds of text messages on the Saturday.
  • Text messages to victims cousin
  • The messages started with a polite invitation to come out for a bonfire. Her cousin declined.
  • "Are you sure? I'm burning all of Jenni'sstuff“
  • "Wow, shoes burn faster than you'd think"
  • "click click boom”

Profiling the Stalker

ex intimate stalking2
Ex-Intimate Stalking

Shaun and Jennifer Vordermann

  • "His personality took a complete 180 after they got married. He used to be quiet, shy and a polite guy. The whole family liked him.“ (Melissa – Jennifer’s cousin)
  • My husband keeps calling me and telling me he's going to kill himself. ... I'm afraid to go there. ... He's crazy. ... I don't know what's going to happen ... because then I get freaked out like I'm going to be hurt ... but he does like stalk me at work."

Profiling the Stalker


She came into my life in the right moment. She was brilliant, pretty, outrageous, her innocence impressed me. She turned into a goddess for me, an idol. Since then, I turned an atheist, I only adored her.

Robert John Bardo

Profiling the Stalker

stranger stalkers
Anna Kournikova

Michael Douglas and his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones

George Harrison

Uma Thurman

Jodie Foster


David Letterman

Stranger Stalkers

Other celebrity victims

Profiling the Stalker

people who stalk are often dangerous
People who stalk are often dangerous
  • They are obsessive, often extremely so.
  • Their behaviours often escalate to violence
  • They are covert in their operating
  • They are mentally unstable

Profiling the Stalker


Serious violence might also be associatedwith shorter duration of stalking.According to the National Center for Victims of Crime: 76% of female murder victims and 85% of attempted murder victims were stalked by their intimate partners during the year previously

Profiling the Stalker

relationship specific factors
Relationship-specific factors

Angry-jealous emotional reactions to a break-up




Who ends the relationship?

Being the recipient of the break-up

Quality of the relationship

Higher rates of dissatisfaction

Profiling the Stalker

the most violent stalker
The most violent stalker
  • Prior intimate relationship
  • Presence of threats
  • Substance abuse
  • Personality disorder
  • History of violent behaviour
  • Absence of a psychotic disorder
  • Revenge motivation
  • Criminal history

Profiling the Stalker


The stalker might have a history of: Harsh parental discipline Unpredictable or chaotic parental relationships A negative sense of self Easily angered within the context of seeking control

Profiling the Stalker

motivation is complex
Motivation is Complex

Profiling the Stalker

women who stalk
Women who stalk
  • About 12% of stalking cases are perpetrated by women
  • They are usually single
  • Employed (35% were unemployed)
  • 95% of women stalkers target someone previously known to them.
    • 40% were from professional contacts (psychologists, GP, teachers, legal professionals).
    • This is significantly different from males.

Profiling the Stalker

women who stalk1
Women who stalk
  • No difference in age or education
  • Less likely to have a criminal record
  • Lower rates of substance abuse
  • No difference in psychiatric disturbance
  • The duration of stalking was the same for males and females
  • The frequency of violence was also the same
  • Females are much more likely to target professional contacts
  • Females are more likely to pursue the same gender (50%)
  • Women are seeking intimacy with their victim

Profiling the Stalker

women who stalk2
Women who stalk
  • Women are more likely to assault other women
  • Women and men receive the same volume of verbal threats of violence
  • Damage to cars, and obscene graffiti are common
  • Women are just as intrusive as men
  • Favour telephone calls (over following)

Profiling the Stalker

  • Most stalkers might be lonely and socially incompetent, but all have the capacity to frighten and distress their victims.
  • Stalkers experience complex emotions, which makes them potentially dangerous, and ultimately impossible to predict.
  • Anyone can be stalked
  • A stalker will never accept the responsibility for his actions, it’s always someone else’s fault

Profiling the Stalker

we are still defining terms
We are still defining terms

We are still learning

  • Stalking laws have proved difficult to draft. All jurisdictions have adopted different approaches and have kept them under review.
    • What is stalking?
    • What is violence?
  • Our knowledge is limited.
    • Time
    • Samples
        • Forensic settings (psych hospitals)
        • Police files
        • Self-referred and self-report (victim)

Profiling the Stalker

context is everything
Context is Everything

Profiling the Stalker

are there early warning signs
Are there early warning signs?

Too good to be true

Intense romance (swift marriage proposals)

“We are destined to be together”

“We are spiritually connected”

View stressful circumstances as personally threatening

Making their partner doubt themselves

some other possible indicators
Some other possible indicators
  • Has an obsessive personality
  • Above average intelligence
  • No or few personal relationships
  • Lack of embarrassment or discomfort at actions
  • Low self esteem
  • Has a mean streak

Profiling the Stalker

tips on what to do if you are being stalked
Tips on what to do if you are being stalked
  • Be clear and concise. Don't make excuses or try to spare their feelings.
  • Don't have any contact with the stalker, because any contact, even negative contact, might be re-interpreted by the stalker.




Profiling the Stalker

key references
Key References
  • Sheridan, L. and Davies, G.M. (2001c). Violence and the prior victim-stalker relationship. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 11, 102-116. 1998 British Crime Survey
  • Rosenfeld, B. (2000 ) Assessment and treatment of obsessional harassment. Aggression and Violent Behavior , 5 , 529 –549.
  • Mullen, P. E. & Pathé, M. (2001) Stalking. Crime and Justice , in press.
  • Mullen, P. E., Pathé, M., Purcell, R., et al (1999 ) A study of stalkers. American Journal of Psychiatry , 156, 1244 –1249.
  • Mullen, P. E., Pathé, M. & Purcell, R., (2000) Stalkers and their Victims . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Meloy, J. R. (1998) The psychology of stalking. In The Psychology of Stalking: Clinical and Forensic Perspectives (ed. J. R. Meloy), pp. 2–23. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  • Harmon, R. B., Rosner, R. & Owens, H. (1998 ) Sex and violence in a forensic population of obsessional harassers. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law , 4 , 236 –249.
  • Emerson, R. M., Ferris, K. O. & Gardner, C. B. (1998 ) On being stalked. Social Problems , 45 , 289 –314.

Contact Details

Dr Shaunagh Foy

Phone: 6331 4133



Profiling the Stalker