Stalking is a crime of terror. It is one part threat and one part waiting for the threat to be carried out. The victim of stalking has no way to resolve the threat and terror she feels. (Most reported cases involve male stalkers and female victims.) Stalking is also far more common than most people believe.
Understanding stalkers is paramount to protecting your staff, visitors and possibly preventing workplace violence. Stalkers come in all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life and every socioeconomic background. There have been several killings by stalkers at workplaces after employees who have been fired returned to stalk and eventually kill those who fired them.
There is one thing all stalkers have in common: obsession and delusion. While there is no cookie-cutter description, there are some general categories. By understanding a stalker’s motivations, employers or other employees may anticipate risk and prevent a workplace incident before it happens.
8 Types of Physical Stalkers
- The Love-Lost Stalker: This person believes their relationship is about to end, so they seek revenge on the person who has wronged them. They are usually jealous and possessive and may become violent.
- The Resentful Stalker: This person believes that they have been humiliated, and they often seek revenge against anyone who may have hurt them. They are often paranoid and believe striking back will make them feel better. They are the most dangerous because they can be obsessive. Workplace stalkers usually fit into this category.
- The Predatory Stalker: This stalker plans their attacks. They often have low self-esteem and poor social skills. They usually engage in voyeurism, follow their victims, and may place obscene phone calls.
- The Intimacy Stalker: This stalker believes their victim is in love with them. They may be a loner and see their victim as a partner in a love relationship that doesn’t exist. They often send gifts, call, or show up uninvited to the victim’s workplace. As rejection ensues, they may become violent.
- The Casual Acquaintance Stalker: This stalker can become delusional from a seemingly casual encounter, believing that the person they just met is “meant for them.” They see even a small gesture or act of kindness as a sign. These stalkers can be very dangerous and often commit rape, sexual assault, and even homicide. The victim’s workplace is often a target because they know the victim goes there every day.
- The Stranger Stalker: This stalker picks a victim at random. This can be especially frightening because of the anonymity involved. The stalker may engage in fantasy about the victim, but the victim has no idea who is stalking them or what might happen. This pattern of behavior can also fall into cyberstalking.
- The Serial Stalker: This stalker is motivated by a pattern of behavior. They are obsessive and have stalked others in the past.
- The False Victim: This is the opposite of most stalkers, as false victims use various situations to attract attention to themselves. They may harass their own family and friends to fabricate false evidence or witness reports. This type of stalker firmly believes that he or she is the real victim.
Federal law defines cyberstalking as crimes committed on the internet that place a victim in reasonable fear of death or physical harm or causes emotional distress to the victim or the victim’s immediate family.
25% of approximately 3.3 million victims have been stalked by a perpetrator using email, instant messaging, or spyware, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Stalking Victimization in the United States report.
Protecting Employees Who are Being Stalked
Being aware and putting security measures in place might save you and your employees from a violent encounter.
If an employee is being stalked, take the necessary precautions to protect them and your workforce.
- Notify reception and security about a potential stalker.
- Ensure employees have security protection when coming and going to the parking lot.
- Keep all entry doors locked and train employees not to allow tailgating.
- Consider installing security cameras.
- Regularly check all employees’ workplace computers for spyware.
- At least once a year, train employees about the risks associated with sharing too much of their life on social media. Review your electronic communications policy.
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