The Analyzation of Stalking as a Deviant Behavior
Wilmington University ?
The United States did not see stalking as a deviant behavior until death occurred in the 1960’s. There is now several studies and reports revealing details about victims and predators when it comes to this topic. The sociological constructionist perspective voluntarism aligns with this behavior. It’s been documented that technology such as (GPS) Global Positioning System, tracking devices located on social media, computer e-mails, and texting have all aided stalkers in terrorizing their victims. On the contrary, law enforcement officers have used the same devices to identify criminals. Studies conducted have revealed the characteristics of stalking victims and stalkers. Unfortunately, other countries have not taken the liberty to create laws against this type of criminal activity. Fortunately, in the United States, there are organizations and legal teams that aid in helping victims who have or are dealing with this deviant behavior called stalking. This is an issue that awareness has surrounded and if one is blind to it there is an abundance of information to educate them on this topic.
The Analyzation of Stalking as a Deviant Behavior
According to Thio, Taylor, & Schwartz (2013), some sociologist says deviance is a violation of any social rule, while others argue that deviance involves more than rule violation. It also has the quality of provoking disapproval, anger, indignation (p. 3). Constantly watching someone and monitoring their whereabouts cross the line and entail stalking. Fortunately, the key to knowing about this issue is recognizing what the behavior patterns for it entails. According to National Center for Victims of Crime (2012), stalkers do things like constantly call you, follow you and show up wherever you are, send unwanted texts or e-mails, damage your property, monitor your phone calls, use technology to track where you go, and threaten to hurt you (p. 2). Unfortunately, this behavior is mostly tied to someone suffering from mental anguish due to a separation from a relationship, friendship, or marriage. Therefore, analyzing the history, support groups, path of stalking and obtaining helpful knowledge can help with understanding this social deviance stalking.
History of Stalking
Even though, celebrities deal with stalking on a regular in society today this has become a norm. Fortunately, there are boundaries that cannot be crossed by law when observing celebrities. Moreover, when you’re a law-abiding citizen in society and you encounter a predicament such as stalking there are laws set forth to protect you. Like any law past there had to be a foundation that provoked the investigation, incident, and follow through by the federal government to solidify a law to protect citizens from this deviance called stalking.
Forensic cases that predated the crime of stalking have shaped the contours of law in the United States. The murder of Tarasoff at University of California, Berkeley, in 1969 by Poddar who suffered from a delusional disorder brought to the mental health profession third-party warnings, and the attempt to assassinate President Regan in 1981 by Hinckley who was also obsessed with Jodie Foster, changed the federal insanity defense (Meloy, 1999).
In 1989 shooting death of movie star Rebecca Shaefer by an obsessed fan drew national attention in the United States to the stalking and prompted the state of California to pass the nations first antistalking law in 1990. By law, stalking is defined as the willful, repeated, and malicious following or harassment of another person. Since 1990 twenty other states have passed similar laws. The Florida Anti-stalking law of 1992 makes it a first-degree misdemeanor to repeatedly follow or harass another person in a malicious manner. It is also a third-degree felony to stalk someone while making threats of physical harm (Coleman, 1997).
Characteristics of Victims and Stalkers
Research findings are relatively clear about several aspects of stalking, including:
• Stalking victims have several psychological, and social problems, some of which may be the result of stalking added to existing vulnerability.
• People in highly visible jobs, vulnerable people who have a likelihood of engaging with single people appear to be at very high risk
• 103 studies reveal 75% of victims are females being stalked
• Victims are as young as two and old as eighty-two, the largest group of victims are between the ages 18 and 30
• 72% of stalkers are males
• Stalkers tend to be older than other criminals
• A stalkers age seems to range from 35 to 40 years old
• Victims are found across the socioeconomic spectrum but appear to be highly educated or have a high-level profession (Sheridan, Blaauw, ; Davies, 2003, pp. 149-154)
• Current or ex-intimate partners make up large, if not the most, perpetrators among women reporting stalking victimization
• Partner stalking often occur during relationships as well as after separation or divorce from abusive relationships
• Partner stalking is dangerous because it associates violence, including potentially lethal violence
• Stalking is associated with extensive victim distress
• Some evidence suggests that partner stalking is often not perceived as serious (Cole, Logan, Shannon, ; Walker, 2006, p. 4).
The psychodynamics of a stalker and social theory. According to Meloy (1999), The social context for stalking seems to be chronic sexual matting failure, social isolation, loneliness, or a major loss. Embedded in this social reality is a narcissistic character pathology that is aligned with a borderline level of a personality disorder. This psychology foresees certain defenses, emotions, and thoughts of the stalker. Its phenotypic variants, such as projection, denial, projective identification, idealization, and devaluation are apparent. There are certain emotions, such as rage, envy, jealousy, and shame, that are easily stimulated. Particularly, when narcissistic supplies and desires attention or control and its denied or withdrawn, then thoughts are filled with narcissistic fantasies in relation to the desired person, marked by beliefs that one is loved, admired by, or destined to be with a certain person. In the world of the stalker, rejection stimulates shame and humiliation, which is quickly defended against in some cases with dangerous rage. This is when the behavior may turn deadly (pp. 87-88).
According to Thio et al., (2013) Constructionist Perspective believes in voluntarism deviance as a voluntary act, an expression of free will and choice making ability, that determines their own behavior (p.9). Stalkers usually commit the act of stalking because they have gravitated towards someone on their own free will rather they were in a relationship or just became obsessed is a part of it. For instance, murders see themselves as morally superior to their victims. The killing gives the murders a reason to believe they are defending their dignity and respectability because their victims have humiliated them by taunting or insulting them (Thio et al., 2013, p.10). Most stalkers feel watching a person constantly gives them power over their victim just like murders. Coincidentally, some stalkers even result in murdering their victims as mentioned before.
Stalking in other cultures. According to Sheridan et al., (2003) stalking should be examined in Nonwestern countries to identify whether it is a global problem. Many countries have not yet legislated against stalking. Two serious cases in Uzbekistan noted that the victims were not protected by criminal law (p. 158). The structure in America when it comes to crime is usually on point. Not to mention if there is a grey area about behavior that is not understood there will more than likely be a study or research conducted. Moreover, we have celebrities that are followed on social media in the millions and are watched on TV and by paparazzi a lot. Therefore, strange behavior around them is noted quickly. Other countries are not bombarded by celebrities and their appearance on TV. Stalking may not be a label in other countries.
The technology used for and against stalking. Technology can aid in stalking tremendously. According to Mason ; Magnet (2012), telephone and computer technologies used by abusers to monitor activities and movements of their victims are electronic records, global positioning systems, web search engines, text messaging as well as social media tools such as Facebook and Instagram (p. 107). Times have changed and to stalk a person you don’t have to use your vehicle or walk behind them. Twenty years ago, a stalker had to really put in work to track down a person who didn’t want to be found. A cell phone is all a stalker may need in the new millennium to track someone. According to Mason ; Magnet (2012), Global Positioning Systems use satellites and can provide real-time positioning are often used to locate and follow victims anywhere. Unfortunately, simple tracking systems used in Facebook and Twitter are highly accessible to computer users anytime and anywhere (p. 108). At the same time, law enforcement has used the same tactics to apprehend criminals. Mason ; Magnet (2012) states police have also included social media in the catching of criminals. Social media is incorporated into police surveillance practices. Police now ask the public to upload photos if they identify a criminal. These photos are used to arrest citizens (p. 111).
Groups advocating against stalking. There are several groups advocating against stalking. This is helpful for the victims dealing with a situation such as stalking or abuse. These groups are qualified to invest time and energy into a person who is willing to provide information needed to aid in protecting them and/or prosecuting the person that may be harassing them. In addition, there’s easy access to many of the organizations who cater to victims enduring stalking from an unwanted person. For example, the internet provides multiple organizations for a person to research and also seek help for situations they are involved in or have overcome. Safe hope provides advocacy and support to all survivors and secondary victims of domestic abuse, sexual violence, and stalking. For instance, there’s a 24-hour Help Line to supportive services and professional training. They offer crisis intervention, advocacy, and support for victims (Safehope, n.d.). Legal Voice pursues justice for all women and girls in the Northwest region, through ground-breaking litigation, and legislative advocacy. They use their power structure to dismantle sexism and oppression, specifically advocating for the Northeast region’s most marginalized communities (Legal Voice, n.d.).
Nova was founded in 1975, it’s the oldest national victim assistance program. They advocate for victims by connecting them with services and resources. While providing skill-based training to victim advocates and crisis responders. They will ensure the highest standards and professional core competencies are met and maintained by those working directly with crime victims through certified and credentialing programs. There promoting public policy initiatives that protect the rights of crime victims and serve as the national voice for all crime victims (National Organization, 2018).
Overall, reviewing the start and origin of stalking, organizations who help victims, the debt stalking may take, and secure helpful information can help with understanding stalking and how it relates to deviant behavior. The origin of every crime had to start somewhere to set rules and regulations forward to handle such deviant behavior like stalking. The United States has done a great job with labeling deviant behaviors, and stalking is a label well received by many. Although, this crime is still prevalent today there are several organizations that advocate against this crime. Not to mention the same technology stalkers use to pursue their victims is also used by law enforcement to apprehend criminals. Equally important is the support those seeking help against a stalker can easily obtain access to organizations advocating against stalking.
Legal Voice. (n.d.). Retrieved June 19, 2018 from http://www.legalvoice.org/about
Coleman, F. L. (1997). Stalking behavior and the cycle of domestic violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.,12.3, 1-9. Retrieved from http://jiv.sagepub.com.mylibrary.wilmu.edu/
Cole, J., Logan, T., Shannon, L., ; Walker, R. (2006). Partner stalking how women respond, cope, and survive. New York: Springer Pub.
Mason, C., ; Magnet, S. (2012). Surveillance studies and violence against women. Surveillance ; Society,10(2), 105-118. Retrieved from http://www.surveillance-and-society.org
Meloy, J. R. (1999). Stalking an old behavior, a new crime. The Psychiatric Clinics of North America,22, 1st ser., 85-99.
Sheridan, L. P., Blaauw, E., ; Davies, G. M. (2003). Stalking knowns and unknowns. Trauma Violence ; Abuse,4(2), 148-162. doi:10.1177/1524838002250766
Thio, A., Taylor, J. D., ; Schwartz, M. D. (2013). Deviant Behavior (11th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Safehope. (n.d.). Retrieved June 19, 2018 from http://www.safehope.net/who-we-are/
National Center for Victims of Crime. (2012). Brochure. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice
National Organization for Victim Assistance. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.trynova.org/who-we-are/