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9-Stalking

Until 1993, a survivor of domestic violence who was being stalked in Oregon by her abuser had little or no legal protection against the stalking unless she met the criteria for a temporary restraining order. The 1993 Oregon Legislature made stalking a crime and created protections for victims. However, the courts later ruled that law unconstitutional. The 1995 Legislature reworked the troublesome provisions and passed another anti-stalking law.

The law now defines stalking as knowingly alarming or coercing another person or a member of that person's immediate family or household by engaging in repeated and unwanted contact with the other person. The stalking behavior must meet a standard of "objective reasonableness" - that is, the behavior must be such that any person in the victim's position (or in the position of the victim's household) would reasonably feel alarmed or coerced by it.

A person who is being stalked can get protection under the law by making a complaint to any law enforcement officer and requesting an Officer's Citation. The request must include a sworn statement from the victim - or from the victim's parent or guardian, if appropriate - describing the stalking.

The Officer's Citation is issued when the officer has "probable cause" to believe that the alleged stalker has made repeated, unwelcome contact with the victim and that it is reasonable for the victim to be alarmed for her own safety and/or the safety of members of her immediate family or household.

The Officer's Citation tells the alleged stalker to appear in court within three court-business days under penalty of arrest - for a hearing at which the alleged stalker must show cause as to why a judicial stalking order should not be issued. During that three-day period before the court hearing, the victim is protected under the Officer's Citation.

The Officer's Citation also includes a copy of the stalking complaint and notifies the victim of the time and place of the hearing.

The protective order will be granted if the victim appears at the hearing and the court determines that:

v  The respondent (the stalker) has intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly made repeated and unwanted contact with the petitioner (the victim) or with members of the victim's immediate family or household and, as a result, alarmed or coerced the victim, and

v  It is objectively reasonable for the victim to have been alarmed.

Unless the court limits the duration of the protective order, it is permanent.

The court can order the stalker to undergo a mental health evaluation and can move to commit the stalker if there is probable cause to believe he is dangerous to himself or others or is unable to care for himself.

The law sets criminal and civil penalties for stalking. A stalker may be convicted of a misdemeanor unless the stalker has a prior conviction for stalking or has violated a stalking protective order, in which case the latest stalking offense can be filed as a felony. The victim also may file a civil lawsuit against the stalker for money to be paid as compensatory and punitive damages.

TYPES OF STALKERS

Nearly 90% of stalkers are male. Most stalkers know their victims (75% of whom are female); 60% are current or former intimate partners. Male victims tend to be stalked by strangers and acquaintances rather than intimates. Most stalkers are late teens to middle-aged. Most have above-average intelligence. They come from every socio-economic background. Many stalkers are anti-social, manipulative, deceptive, obsessive-compulsive, and have a history of failed relationships. Historically, psychologists have divided stalkers into three broad categories, based on the apparent motivation of the stalker. These categories are:

  • Love Obsession: This type of stalker develops a fixation on another person with whom they have no personal relationship. The target may be a casual acquaintance or even a complete stranger. Stalkers who ‘fall in love’ with a student in their class or a professor fall into this category. These stalkers seem to want to live out a fantasy with their victims.
  • Erotomania: This type of stalker holds a delusional belief (a paranoid disorder) that they are being loved by their target, even if it is not expressed. The target is often a well-known person, such as a student-leader or acclaimed athlete
  • Simple Obsession: This type of stalker has some previous or current personal or romantic relationship with the victim. These include all intimate partner cases, as well as intimate and casual dating relationships, co-workers, and casual friends. Rejection often triggers this type of stalking. Stalkers turn to threats and violence as a means of reestablishing control of the victim.

It is important to note that these are clinical classifications of stalkers. In addition to the clinical classifications, stalkers also may be classified based on their relationship with the victim.

  • Intimate or Former Intimate Stalking: The stalker and victim may be married or divorced, current or former cohabitants, serious or casual sexual partners, or former sexual partners. A history of intimate partner violence may exist.
  • Acquaintance Stalking: The stalker and victim may know each other casually, either through formal or informal contact. For example, they may be co-workers or neighbors, or they may have dated once or twice but were not sexual partners.
  • Stranger Stalking: The stalker and victim do not know each other at all. Cases involving celebrities and other public figures generally fall into this category.

Other categories of stalkers include:

  • The Rejected: As a result of a relationship dissolution (i.e. estrangement, disruptions, break-ups) from an ex-partner (but inclusive of a parent, friend, or work associate) this type of stalker can be observed desiring a mixture of reconciliation and revenge. This individual often experiences feelings of loss, frustration, anger, jealousy, malevolence, and depression.
  • The Intimacy Seeker: These stalkers pursue an intimate relationship with an individual perceived as their true love, but their attentions are not wanted by the object of their affection.
  • The Incompetent: These intellectually limited and socially incompetent individuals desire intimacy, but the object of their affection does not reciprocate these feelings. They often lack sufficient skills in courting rituals. They may also display a sense of entitlement: believing they deserve a partner, but lack the ability or desire to engage in subdued, preliminary interpersonal relations. Another aspect of these stalkers is that they may have had previous stalking victims. Unlike the intimacy seekers, those in the incompetent category do not view the victim as having unique qualities; they are not infatuated with the victim, only attracted, and do not assert that the affection is mutual.
  • The Resentful : The goal of this stalker is to frighten and distress the victim. These stalkers may also experience feelings of injustice and desire revenge.
  • The Predatory : The power and control that comes from stalking a victim gives these stalkers a great deal of enjoyment. The stalker often strives to learn more about the victim, and compared to the previous four categories, are more likely to have histories of sexual offense convictions.

Cyber-stalking

Cyberstalking is using the Internet, email, or other electronic communications to stalk someone. Examples of cyberstalking include:

  • Sending unwanted, frightening, or obscene emails, text messages, or instant messages (IMs)
  • Harassing or threatening someone in a chat room
  • Posting improper messages on a message board
  • Tracking your computer and Internet use
  • Sending electronic viruses
  • Pretending to be you in a chat room

SAFETY PLANNING FOR STALKING

  1. Erase yourself from the public: Delete/change your e-mail addresses. Close all social networking accounts. Set your internet browser firewall to HIGH security. Change your phone numbers. Be vigilant. 
  2. Choose a safety-check person who knows where you are at all times and check in with them. DON'T tell other people where you are or where you are going.
  3. Find a safe place to stay. Make sure you and your children are safe. (shelter, with family)
  4. Keep a log of the stalking activity. Note the time, location and action of the behavior. After three incidents have been logged you can call the police and ask them to issue a "stalking citation". After which a judge will follow up by hearing the case and possibly ordering a "stalking order". (see above)
  5. Follow up. Don't "let it go", you never know when stalking may turn in to homicide.

If you are cyberstalked:

  • Send the person a clear, written warning not to contact you again
  • If the stalking continues, get help from the police. You also can contact a domestic violence shelter for support and suggestions.
  • Print out copies of evidence such as emails. Keep a record of the stalking and any contact with police. 
  • Consider blocking messages from the harasser
  • Change your email address
  • File a complaint with the person's Internet Service Provider (ISP)
Never post online profiles or messages with details that could be used to identify or locate you (such as age, sex, address, workplace, phone number, school, or places you hang out)

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