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Am I a Stalker?

Occasionally, I receive e-mails from individuals who want to know whether or not their behavior is considered "stalking."  These individuals may be concerned that their behaviors have become inappropriate or extreme, or perhaps these individuals were accused of engaging in stalking behavior.

As indicated on the Definitions page, stalking has been defined as "the willful, malicious and repeated following and harassing of another person" (Meloy, 1998).

If you are not sure whether or not your behavior classifies as stalking ("menacing by stalking" in some states), refer to the laws for your state, province, or country.  If this is still not clear, an attorney may be able to provide you with additional information.  Legal Resources are provided as a place for you to start.

Stalking typically involves a persistent pattern of conduct that is not wanted by the person to whom it is directed, and may include, but is not limited to, any of the following behaviors:

Stalking behavior can best be conceptualized as existing on a continuum, from low intensity to high intensity.  In other words, at one end of the range the behaviors are mild, less intrusive and non-persistent behaviors perceived by others as inappropriate, problematic, and harassing.  At the extreme end of the continuum are severe, persistent, or aggressive forms of pursuant behaviors.

 

 

Stalking Behavior Continuum

Low intensity, less intrusive, non-persistent or low frequency

Inappropriate, problematic, harassing

  Severe in intensity, persistent, aggressive

Inappropriate, problematic, harassing

 

Interestingly, sometimes an individual is not the best judge of his or her behaviors and has to rely on the objective observations and feedback of others.  A closely trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional can help a person take a step back and more clearly assess the impact one's behavior is having on oneself and on others.

Can a mental health professional be helpful?

Mental health professionals are trained to help people sort through their difficulties, understand their thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and learn how to manage a variety of concerns, including, but not limited to substance use, anxiety, grief/loss, depression, anger, and problematic stressors.

Sometimes people give "mixed signals."

Occasionally, in the act of establishing a relationship with someone, or during a break-up from a relationship, the communication one receives can be vague or seemingly contradictory.  For instance, on the one hand, the individual might appear to you to want to have a relationship, but on the other hand he or she is indicating having no interest in a relationship.

Speaking with a mental health professional can offer an opportunity to talk to someone about the situation and receive objective feedback.