How do you recognise a stalker?

It can be difficult to recognise a stalker, because they look like everyone else.

Not all stalkers can be placed in a certain “personality category”. However, it is possible to identify something characteristic of most stalkers.

In most cases, the stalker is mentally unstable, and you can recognise the person on certain psychological characteristics such as jealousy, dominating and manipulative behaviour, mood swings, aggressive tendencies, low self-esteem, clinging behaviour, obsessive infatuation and self-centredness.

This is not to say that all people with abovementioned characteristics are stalkers.

Similarly, you cannot recognise a stalker just by focusing on certain psychiatric diagnoses. Some stalkers are mentally ill; others suffer from personality disorders to varying degrees, and then others have attachment issues and generally difficulties with intimate and close relations.

In 80% of all cases, the stalker is male. However, both male and female stalkers can be very charming and pleasant, and other times they seem awkward and less competent socially.

In more than half of the cases, the victim knows the stalker already.

In about one third of the cases, the stalker is a stranger.

Stalkers can be very persistent, and on average, the stalking process lasts about two years, but sometimes it lasts up to five, 10, or even 20 years! Fortunately, some stalking processes are brief.

Almost half of all stalkers are or become unemployed during the stalking, but basically, stalkers are from all social classes and can be everything from homemakers to employees, self-employed persons and corporate managers.

Source: Spitzberg, B.H. & Cupach, W.R (2007): The State of the Art of Stalking: Taking stock of the Emerging literature. In: Aggression and Violent Behavior, 12, pp. 64-86