I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
Stalking is a crime and stalkers are criminals.
This simple truth is often ignored by mental health practitioners, by law enforcement agencies and by the media.
The horrid consequences of stalking are typically underestimated and stalkers are mocked as eccentric and lonely weird weirdos.
Yet stalking affects one-fifth of all women in an unknown number of men and often ends in violence and bloodshed.
A 1997 review paper titled Stalking: An Overview of the Problem written by Karen Abrams, Gail Erlick Robinson, defines stalking this way. Stalking or criminal harassment is defined as the willful, malicious and repeated following or harassing of another person, usually requiring a credible threat of violence against the victim or the victim's family.
Harris refers to willful conduct directed at a person that seriously alarms, noise or distresses the person and which serves no legitimate purpose.
Typically the behavior involves such things as loitering near the victim, approaching, making multiple phone calls, constantly surveying, harassing the victim's employer or children, harming a pet, interfering with personal property, sabotaging dates and sending threatening or sexually suggestive gifts or letters.
Harassment usually escalates, often beginning with phone calls that gradually become more threatening and aggressive in nature and frequently ends in violent acts.
In essence, the offender's behavior is terrorizing, intimidating and threatening and restricts the freedom and controls the victim.
In the United States, continues the authors, there are individual state laws but no unified federal anti-stalking laws.
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, it is a crime to knowingly or recklessly harass another person in any of the following ways.
By repeatedly following or communicating either directly or indirectly with that person or anyone known to them, by watching where that person or anyone known to them resides, works or happens to be, and by engaging in any threatening conduct directed at that person or his or her family, if any of these cause the person to reasonably fear for his or her safety.
In both the United States and Canada, anti-stalking laws are in a state of flux.
Many criminals, and therefore many stalkers, suffer from personality disorders, most prevalently the antisocial personality disorder, formerly known as psychopathy.
Comorbidity, a cocktail of mental health disorders, is very frequent among stalkers.
Most stalkers abuse substances such as alcohol or drugs, and they are prone to violence or to other forms of aggression.
Antisocial personality disorder was formerly called psychopathy or more colloquially sociopathy.
Some scholars, such as Robert Hare, still distinguish psychopathy from mere antisocial behavior.
The disorder appears in early adolescence, but criminal behavior and substance abuse often abate with age, usually by the fourth or fifth decade of life.
Antisocial personality disorder may have genetic or hereditary determinants and afflicts mainly men.
Scientific activity is different in psychopaths than in the average normal population.
The diagnosis is controversial and regarded by some scholars as scientifically unfounded or culturally bound.
Psychopaths regard other people as objects to be manipulated, in instruments of gratification and utility.
They have no discernible conscience. They are devoid of empathy. They find it difficult to perceive other people's nonverbal cues, needs, emotions and preferences.
Consequently, the psychopath rejects other people's rights and his commensurate obligations to them.
The psychopath is impulsive, reckless, irresponsible, and unable to postpone gratification.
He often rationalizes his behavior, showing an utter absence of remorse for hurting or defrauding others.
The psychopath's primitive defense mechanisms include splitting the view of the world and people in it as either all good or all evil, projection, they attribute their own shortcomings to others, and projective identification.
They force others to behave the way they expect them to.
The psychopath fails to comply with social norms, hence the criminal acts, the deceitfulness, an identity theft, the use of aliases, the constant lying, the conning of even his nearest and dearest for gain or pleasure.
Psychopaths are unreliable.
They do not honor their undertakings, obligations, contracts and responsibilities. They rarely hold the job for long. They almost never repay their debts. They have indicative, remorseless, ruthless, driven, dangerous, aggressive, violent, irritable and sometimes prone to magical thinking. They seldom plan for the long and medium terms, believing themselves to be immune to the consequences of their own actions.
Many psychopaths are outright bullies.
Michigan psychologist Donald B Saunders distinguishes between three types of aggressors, family only, generally violent, most likely to suffer from antisocial personality disorder, and emotionally volatile.
In an interview he granted to Psychology Today, Saunders described the generally violent type this way.
Type 2 men, generally violent, use violence outside their home as well as in it.
Their violence is severe and tied to alcohol. They have high rates of arrest for drunk driving and violence.
Most have been abused as children and have rigid attitudes about sex roles.
These men, Saunders explains, are calculating. They have a history with the criminal justice system and they know what they can get away with.
Bullies feel inadequate and they compensate for it by being violent, verbally, psychologically or physically. Some bullies suffer from personality and other mental health disorders.
They feel entitled to special treatment, they seek attention, they lack empathy, they're rightful and envious, they exploit and then discard their co-workers or other people, friends, family members.
Bullies are insincere, they're haunting, unreliable and they lack empathy and sensitivity to the emotions, needs and preferences of others whom they regard and treat as mere objects or instruments of gratification. Bullies are ruthless, cold and have alloplastic defenses and an outside locus of control.
In other words, they blame others for their failures, defeats or misfortunes.
Bullies have low frustration and tolerance thresholds. They get bored and anxious easily. They're violently impatient, emotionally labile, unstable, erratic and untrustworthy. They lack self-discipline, egotistic, exploitative, rapacious, opportunistic, driven, reckless and callous. Bullies are emotionally immature and they are control freaks. They are consummate liars and deceivingly charming.
Bullies dress, talk and behave normally. Many of them are persuasive, manipulative or even charismatic. They are socially adept, light and often fun to be around and the center of attention.
Only a prolonged and intensive interaction with a bully, sometimes as a victim, exposes his or her dysfunction.
Though ruthless, typically violent, the psychopath is a calculating machine out to maximize his gratification and personal profit.
Psychopaths lack empathy and may even be sadistic, but they understand well and instantly the language of carrots and sticks.
So what is the best coping strategy?
Convince your psychopath that messing with your life or with your nearest is going to cost him dearly.
Do not threaten him, simply be unequivocal and firm about your desire to be left in peace and alone and your intentions to evolve the law should he stalk, harass or threaten you.
Give him the choice between being left alone and becoming the target of multiple arrests, restraining orders or worse.
Take extreme precautions at all times, meet him accompanied by someone and only in public places and only if you have no other choice.
Exercise contact and interact with him through professionals, via your lawyers, accountants, therapists, police officers, judges, evaluators.
Document every contact, every conversation. Try to commit everything to paper. You may need it as evidence, tape your phone calls with him, your conversations with him.
Educate your children to be on their guard and to exercise caution and good judgment with regards to him.
Keep fully posted and update and inform your local law enforcement agencies, your friends, the media and anyone else who would listen.
Be careful with your personal information, provide only the bare and necessary minimum to anyone who asks. Remember, he has ways of finding out everything about you, especially in the computer age.
Under no circumstances, succumb to his romantic advances, accept his gifts, respond to personal communications, show interest in his affairs, help him out, gossip about him or with him, send him messages directly or through third parties.
Do none of these things, maintain the no contact rule.
Equally, do not seek revenge, do not provoke him, punish him, taunt him, disparage him, bad mouth or gossip about him or your relationship.