1.4 Stalking and domestic violence

The term ‘stalking’ means repeated harassment or other forms of invasion of a person's privacy in a manner that arouses fear in its target person. Stalking may include such acts as repeated physical following, unwanted contact by various means of communication, observing a person's actions closely for an extended period of time, contacting family members, friends, or associates of a target inappropriately and ‘cyber-stalking’ (using the internet as a tool for harassment).

In some European countries special laws against stalking can be found, for example in Austria (July 2006), Germany (March 2007) and UK (1997, Protection from Harassment Act). There are various typologies of stalkers. Two types of stalkers are of importance in the context of domestic violence:
  • Rejected stalkers pursue their victims in order to reverse, correct, or avenge a rejection (e.g. divorce, separation, termination);
  • Resentful stalkers want to frighten and distress the victim out of a sense of grievance. They want retribution for their experienced of pain through separation.

The “rejected stalker” is angry, feels rejected by the partner and is emotionally dependent on her/him. S/he cannot accept the rejection or cannot believe that s/he has been rejected. Those perpetrators usually do not show mental disorders and know pretty well when they are at an advantage and when not. This means that they are responsive to legal sanctions (Mullen/Pathé/Purcell 2001).
The ‘resentful stalker’ gains a personal kind of satisfaction since s/he experiences power and control over the victim. S/he considers her/himself a victim experiencing pain. Her/his aim is to fight against experienced injustice. Her/his aim is to frighten and intimidate the victim. S/he usually uses threats and less physical attacks. S/he is not responsive to legal sanctions and views them as a prolongation of her/his experience of unjustness. S/he tries to avoid legal sanctions and further may show aspects of a paranoid personality.

 

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European Commission and the German Federal Ministry of Family, Seniors, Women and Youth.

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