Victims & Survivors need to know... RESTRAINING ORDERS ARE NOT THE BE-ALL ANSWER!
Psychopaths & Narcissists as well as other pathologicals often ignore or breach the restraining order -- and police far too often do not follow up!
The increase in stalking cases a result of determined harassers looking for alternative methods to target victims
When it comes to harassment, there is a vast range of behavior. Much of it will not justify (or win) any lawsuits, but this doesn’t change the nature of what it is. And quite a few experts have described categories of harassers, and types of harassment, to help make some sense out of the confusion that most people feel about the issue.
Real harassers are abusers or predators who are out to exploit, and care only about their own needs and agendas.
A real harasser is someone who will continue to try to harass or predate despite sexual or other harassment law, and even after being given education about the seriousness of their actions, or the effects of their actions. In most cases, they will simply blame the victim. They rarely take responsibility themselves. They will just change their tactics so that they can continue to harass and exploit in such a way that the victim/s, or the law, can’t do anything about it.
One method for real harassers is stalking. Most forms of stalking are forms of sexual harassment because they are attempts to force a relationship with someone who is unwilling or unavailable. Stalking is the extreme, but covert, version of refusing to take ”No,” or “Leave me alone!” for an answer–you know, behaviors that were the catalysts for sexual harassment law.
Stalking has always been a problem, but experts will tell you that it is clearly on the rise.
I think the increase in stalking is partially a result of sexual harassment law, and real sexual harassers looking for ways to target their victims without fear of consequence for their actions. Because it is covert, it helps them get around sexual harassment law. It enables them to harass anonymously, and to more easily mask their motives and intentions. It also makes gathering evidence next to impossible for the victim, and without concrete evidence, there is no hope for them to even get an investigation.
On top of this, it makes the victim look paranoid, if not crazy, if they should report the problem to anyone.
In it’s most subtle forms (i.e. surveillance, sending anonymous “love” mail/ emails, hang-up phone calls), stalking can be like a chinese water torture. However, most stalking methods are more extreme, invasive, and destructive. (Breaking and entering, phone tapping, computer hacking, character defamation and slander, obscene mail or phone calls, etc.) Some stalkers will try to organize groups of people to assist them in their harassment campaign – called gang stalking or organized stalking. They usually seek out people in their victim’s community, utilizing the victim’s ”real world” community and/or Internet communities. In fact, stalkers often work to take control of, or destroy, a victim’s support network, resources, and options. This leaves the victim vulnerable, or even dependent on the stalker for survival, at least in the mind of the stalker.
Being stalked is NOT flattering – it is a form of psychological abuse and violence. And while stalking motives are usually sexual (or love obsessional), the stalking behaviors themselves may not be–that is another way real harassers can use it to get around sexual harassment law. (For example, watching someone over an extended period of time isn’t overtly sexual, at least not in of itself.)
Moreover, the psychological damage to the victim can be devastating. One expert writes,
”Stalking is a form of mental assault, in which the perpetrator repeatedly, unwantedly, and disruptively breaks into the life-world of the victim, with whom he (or she) has no relationship (or no longer has)….Moreover, the separated acts that make up the intrusion cannot by themselves cause the mental abuse, but do taken together (cumulative effect).”(Rokkers)
To most stalking victims, being stalked is like being put through a long, slow rape. For gang stalking victims, it’s like a gang rape. (The very insightful judge in the Christina Orozco case referred to her actions as akin to “murder.”)
And being stalked can be very frightening, regardless of whether or not the stalker’s activities are overtly violent. Physical attacks, even murders, can occur after long periods of ”more passive” stalking activities. Often, the violence is precipitated by the stalker’s being forced to face they have been rejected by their target.
Besides suffering the psychological damage, and damage to life, reputation, relationships, and options, most stalking victims live in fear that something will push their stalkers over the edge to physical violence.
Unfortunately, if a state or country recognizes stalking at all, this is mostly in the context of direct/overt violence, or clearly escalating violence. So, if a stalker avoids overtly violent acts, they can pretty much do as they please. In other words, if the stalker does not threaten or attack, a stalking victim is out of luck. They will not even be able to get a restraining order.
As long as they use stalking to disguise their motives, activities, and/or their identities, they are free from worry about being held accountable by sexual harassment law. And as long as they keep their stalking activities from being/seeming overtly violent, they will suffer no consequence from stalking law. Even better (for them), they can operate for as long as they wish.
And there is nothing the victim can do about it. (Suicides have been reported as victims use this as the only means they have to bringing an end to the harassment.)
It also makes stalking a good retaliation tactic for harassers who have been disciplined (i.e. been demoted, lost job) as many are using this as a way of getting revenge against an harassment target who filed a grievance against them – retaliation laws do not include stalking, either.
In my own situation, I took a course from the female professor who turned out to be a lesbian who quickly became interested in me. (That I’m not a lesbian didn’t deter her as she became obsessed with getting me to “try it” with her.) She began by making a pass, which she clearly saw right off the bat was a mistake, particularly since she did it in front of witnesses. But like most real harassers, she was not willing to give up. She simply revised her methods and began stalking me with an extraordinary determination. It is still amazing to me how far she went, and the depth and breadth or her obsession.
She used classic stalking tactics, such as surveillance and character defamation, the latter enabling her to destroy not only my reputation, but all my relationships and options, both personal and professional. She used cyberstalking extensively in her pursuit and surveillance, using this to watch me and try to interact with me at numerous Internet forums. She even organized groups of people to assist her (gang stalking), enlisting people not only in my “real world” but also in Internet communities I frequented, or she thought I might join. Because she was a department chair and a psychologist, no one questioned her character or motives.
Current stalking laws are woefully inadequate, and don’t even begin to confront the problem, let alone deal with it.
But even if the laws are revised to protect victims from the psychological violence of stalking, real harassers will simply find other ways to abuse. Any stumbling block placed before them, they will get around. It is a game to them. It is in their nature.