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Stalkers can be driven by several different reasons, and most have stalked more than one person in their lifetime. Stalkers are obsessed with their victims, and this obsession is expressed in many ways. Some common reasons for this obsession include power, control, and sometimes revenge. Most stalkers don’t take responsibility for their actions and blame others for making them do what they do. Relationship violence perpetrators often stalk their victims during the course of the relationship and especially after the victim leaves the relationships.

Types of Stalkers and General Characteristics

Love Obsession Stalkers

This category is characterized by stalkers who develop a love obsession or fixation on another person with whom they have no personal relationship. The target may be only a casual acquaintance or even a complete stranger. The stalker begins to make contact with the victim in a variety of ways that may initially seem harmless, but their continued presence generates fear and terror for the victim. “Peeping Toms” should not be taken lightly, and can pose a very real threat to their victims. This category represents about 20-25 percent (20-25%) of all stalking cases. Stalkers in this category include those who develop fixations on regular, ordinary people-­ including classmates, their instructors, casual acquaintances or people they pass on campus.

The vast majority of love obsessional stalkers suffer from a mental disorder. Regardless of the specific disorder, nearly all display some delusional thought patterns and behaviors. Since most are unable to develop normal personal relationships through more conventional and socially acceptable means, they are have a life of fantasy relationships with persons they hardly know, if at all. They then attempt to act out their fictional plots in the real world.

They believe they can make the object of their affection love them. They desperately want to establish a positive personal relationship with their victim. When the victim refuses to follow the script or doesn't respond as the stalker hopes, they may attempt to force the victim to comply by use of threats and intimidation. When threats and intimidation fail, some stalkers turn to violence.

Simple Obsession Stalkers

This second category represents 70-80 percent (70-80%) of all stalking cases and is distinguished by the fact that some previous personal or romantic relationship existed between the stalker and the victim before the stalking behavior began. Virtually all relationship violence cases involving stalking fall under this rubric, as do casual dating relationships. Simple Obsession stalkers exhibit a variety of characteristics, including desire for extreme control, obsessive behavior, vengeful attitudes, an inability to handle rejection, and an assumption of little or no responsibility for their actions.

The self-esteem of simple obsession stalkers is often closely tied to their relationship with their partner. In many cases, such stalkers bolster their own self-esteem by dominating and intimidating their mates. They often charm their perspective victim at first, but begin to slowly take over and control their lives. Exercising power over another gives them some sense of power in a world where they otherwise feel powerless. Stalkers turn to threats and violence as a means of reestablishing control of the victim.

Once the victim literally becomes the stalker's primary source of self-esteem, their greatest fear becomes the loss of this person. Their own self-worth is so closely tied to the victim that when they are deprived of that person, they may feel that their own life is without worth. It is exactly this dynamic that makes simple obsession stalkers so dangerous. In the most acute cases, such stalkers will literally stop at nothing to regain their "lost possession" --their partner-- and in so doing, regain their lost self-esteem. Rejection often triggers this type of stalking.  Stalkers are the most dangerous when their victims determine to physically remove themselves from the offender's presence on a permanent basis by leaving the relationship. Indeed, stalking cases which emerge from relationship /dating violence situations constitute the most common and potentially lethal class of stalking cases.

(Adapted from www.ncvc.org , 2008)