Experts say stalkers often know their victims

Sara Williams


Credit: DKS Editors

Stalking can start simply.

A bossy boyfriend insists his girlfriend order chicken at a restaurant. If she refuses, he gets angry.

He’s sure she wants chicken – he’s sure he knows everything about her.

Barbara Buchanan, a psychologist at Western Reserve Psychological Associates, said stalkers become outraged that their acquaintance or partner could say “no.”

The stalker’s partner becomes less of an equal person and more an object of the stalker’s desires and goals, Buchanan said.

Crime prevention officer Alice Ickes said she thinks stalking is a problem for students.

Telephone harassment, keyed cars and slashed tires are borderline stalking incidents. They don’t fit neatly into the stalking law, Ickes said.

She said individuals who commit these types of crimes have the potential to become stalkers, and problems should be dealt with before stalking begins.

Counseling services, campus police and resident assistants are resources on campus that can help or halt stalking problems.

According to The National Center for Victims of Crime, common victims of stalking are women who have left an abusive partner, and 80 percent of stalking victims on college campuses knew their stalker beforehand. But sometimes, it’s more about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Possessing a characteristic of interest to a stalker could lead to an obsession, according to the center.

Incidents of voyeurism, emotional abuse and sexual battery can combine into stalking, Buchanan said.

“Stalking fills a lot of time for a sick person,” Buchanan said. “They don’t have to face that no one wants them and they are lonely.”

Stalkers often feel access into a home or private life is owed to them.

Unreturned attention or rebuffs can also turn into an obsession in the mind of a stalker.

“We have to learn to pay attention to the gut meter,” Buchanan said. “If you get the willies from your gut – pay attention.”

Contact student life reporter Sara Williams at [email protected].