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Friday, 1 September, 2000, 23:48 GMT 00:48 UK
Five 'types' of stalker identified
Woman
Four out of five stalkers are men
Every stalker can fit into one of five different groups, according to psychologists.

A study carried out in Australia also suggests that each group should receive a different form of treatment depending on which category they fit into.

The researchers say many stalkers have personality or mental disorders and may have social problems or an obsessive nature.

"Rejected" stalkers are usually an ex-partner but can also be a family member or a friend.

They often claim to be seeking reconciliation but they are the most likely to become violent.

"Intimacy seekers" are in love with their victims and are seeking to start a relationship. They are oblivious or indifferent to their victim's lack of interest and have high rates of major mental disorders.

Types of Stalkers
Incompetent suitors: want a date
Intimacy seekers: want an intimate relationship
Predatory: are sexual deviants
Rejected: are often ex-partners
Resentful: believe their victims have mistreated them

"Incompetent" suitors are seeking a first date but are not in love with their victims. They usually have social problems and are so narcissistic they cannot believe anyone wouldn't fall at their feet at the snap of their fingers.

"Resentful" stalkers harass their victims with the sole intention of causing fear and apprehension.

They are sometimes suffering from a paranoid illness and stalk people like lawyers or doctors who they perceive to have failed them in some way.

"Predatory" stalkers follow their victims in preparation for an assault, usually sexual. They can stalk for weeks or months and they are sustained by a sense of power and control.

Four out of five stalkers are men and 75% of victims are women.

Professor Paul Mullen, from Monash University in Australia and one of the authors, added: "When men are stalked it is often by another man. Women who stalk fix on both male and female targets.

"Stalkers and their victims can be drawn from every walk of life and every social stratum."

Victims

Previous studies have suggested that victims of stalkers suffer from depression, sleep loss, and stress.

They can restrict their social lives, reduce the time they spend at work or stop working completely, move home and may even contemplate suicide.

"Those forms of harassment that create fear also tend to cause psychological and social damage to the victim," said Professor Mullen.


Victims of stalkers always have one eye over their shoulder

Victim Support spokeswoman

"The targets of persistent stalking are exposed to a chronic stress, which is often experienced as sufficiently intimidating to induce almost constant apprehension and fear."

Prof Mullen said a mixture of punishment, such as imprisonment, and therapy can help stalkers to stop.

He added that being able to place the stalkers in one of the five categories can help psychologists to decide which treatment may be most effective in stopping their actions.

According to Victim Support, stalking is a growing problem in the UK.

A spokeswoman said many victims of stalkers are depressed and nervous.

"There is no typical reaction but people are often very depressed and anxious.

"Victims of stalkers always have one eye over their shoulder and don't really know what will happen next."

Legislation brought in three years ago protects people against stalking. But according to Victim Support it has not been 100% effective.

"It is still quite difficult to prove and it is difficult to secure a conviction. There are still a lot of grey areas," said the spokeswoman.

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01 Aug 00 | UK
Stalkers' register proposed
23 Mar 00 | Scotland
Stalking law inquiry begins
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