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Why Do Stalkers Stalk?

Stalking can be a terrifying and traumatic experience. We often work with stalking victims to help them pick up the pieces of what the stalker has broken. We can even aid stalking victims to create a safety plan to get out of a stalker’s grip.

Many of our stalking survivor clients have the same question: Why did this happen to me? It’s not your fault. Stalking is a behaviour that resides in the stalker, not the victim, and there is very little you can do to avoid becoming a target of a dedicated stalker. However, understanding why stalkers stalk—what motivates their dangerous and intimidating behaviour—may help you make wise relationship decisions, and could even empower you to recognise stalking early, before it becomes a life-threatening emergency.

Mental Illness

Not all stalkers are mentally ill, and most mentally ill people are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators of violence. However, some people have a mental illness that interferes with their ability to have normal relationships, or that causes them to have delusional beliefs about their relationships. These stalkers can be especially dangerous, since they will ignore even the police, so if you believe someone is stalking you due to their mental illness, seek immediate legal assistance.

A Desire for Control

Most stalkers know their victims, and either had or wanted to have a romantic relationship with them at some point. For these stalkers, stalking is about retaining control over the victim. Some people equate control with love or are willing to substitute control when the other party does not like them. These stalkers can become violent when their desires are ignored or left unmet, so if you are concerned that a former romantic interest may be stalking you, you need immediate help.

A Sense of Entitlement

Many stalkers see their needs as simply more important than the needs of others. This feeling of entitlement compels them to engage in stalking behaviour. After all, if the other person says no, that doesn’t matter. What is important is how it makes the stalker feel—at least, that’s how the stalker views it. These stalkers will ignore polite requests to stop calling, insisting that you should take their calls or do what they want for no reason other than that it’s what they want. In most cases, the only way to get the stalking to stop is to involve the authorities.

Poor Social Skills

Some stalking is not particularly intrusive, only crossing the line occasionally. For example, a former romantic interest might call you every day or a friend might send you too many messages on the Internet. In these cases, the stalking is not a threat, just a source of annoyance. People who don’t understand boundaries and who cannot take subtle cues often lack social skills. You will have to be clear and direct, yet gentle. Occasionally, these stalkers escalate to other, more aggressive, forms of stalking, so be prepared to seek help if that occurs.

Social Media

Social media doesn’t directly cause stalking, but it does make it easier for people to stalk one another. People who might not otherwise engage in stalking may do so on social media since it’s easy to track another person with the mere click of a button or swipe of a phone. Protecting your social media account by making everything private and only friending people you know can help protect you from this form of stalking.

Stalking can rob you of your sense of self and safety, but you don’t have to suffer in silence. Let Three Seas help you break free from stalking while addressing the ways stalking has undermined your well-being.