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Mind of a Stalker: Why Torment Someone?

Stalkers are lonely and lack self-esteem, yet they feel very, very important.

The Person Least Likely ... continued...


"The stalker is usually an isolated and shy person, one who lives alone, lacks any type of important intimate relationship -- not just sexual, but friends or family, too," Moore tells WebMD. "There's also a narcissistic personality disorder and very low self-esteem. The stalker feels that they're the most important person in the world."


Many people stalk someone they have only met briefly -- someone they don't really know, or barely know. The stalker may also focus on a celebrity, especially if they've seen him or her in person -- at a public appearance like a concert. "They develop convoluted thoughts about this person. They feel this person is the answer to their dreams," says Moore.


Stalkers write countless letters or emails to their victims, begging for attention. They make repeated phone calls, send gifts, flowers, candies, cards. They secretly follow the victim, either by car or in an insidious way -- by getting access to the victim's email.


"We've seen this in many relationships. The stalker figures out your password and reads all your email," Moore tells WebMD. "Many people use the same password for many things -- the ATM, various email accounts, and web sites. Stalkers are often smart enough figure that out and use it to get into email. They even get into the victim's bank account, find out which ATM they use, find out up to the minute where they went to eat, when they shopped."

When to Be Concerned

The red flags:


  • You immediately start getting several phone calls or emails right after meeting this person.

  • The person is clingy, controlling, or upset if you want to spend time with friends and family.


"Don't make any sudden moves," says Moore. "Don't tell them 'I don't want anything do with you.' By rejecting that person, there is a chance of violence. If you reject that person, often times they feel angry, threatened. There is the possibility of violence."


Take action:


  • Tell everyone you know that this is going on -- your employer, friends, family.

  • Gently but firmly tell the person you've decided to move on. Don't get drawn into discussions of why. Just say, "This situation isn't right for me" or "I'm not ready yet" -- whatever you need to say, but say it gently.


If this doesn't work, you may need to take legal action, Moore says. File a police report, file a restraining order, change your email and ATM passwords. "Their fantasy is that you love them. You really need to be on the offensive. There's no harm in changing passwords."


Caution: "Never, ever underestimate a threat. Don't take it lightly, even if it's in an email. Take it to the authorities. Ignore it at your own peril. It will only get worse," he says.

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