Forget me Not: Stalkers, Modus Operandi and Perceived Motivations

  • Jenny KorkodeilouEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Victims and Victimology book series (PSVV)


Are stalkers mentally ill and pathologically obsessed with their idols and objects of attention? Are they jealous and possessive prior intimate partners seeking to re-establish a relationship or take revenge and control over their partners? This chapter contextualises the experiences of the victims who were interviewed for my study by providing basic demographic information and a discussion of the contextual and motivational characteristics of their pursuit. Victims provided interesting and often insightful observations and interpretations about their stalkers, the methods and tools the latter used to unsettle, disempower and intimidate them and the potential motivations of their behaviour. Their accounts indicate that stalkers comprise a rather heterogenous group of perpetrators, they often use a wide range of tactics and tools to harass and destabilise their targets and their motivations may range from seeking attention and making their presence felt to taking revenge and reasserting power and control.


  1. Anderson, C. A., & Anderson, K. B. (2008). Men Who Target Women: Specificity of Target, Generality of Aggressive Behavior. Aggressive Behavior, 34(6), 605–622.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Ballinger, A. (2007). Masculinity in the Dock: Legal Responses to Male Violence and Female Retaliation in England and Wales, 1900–1965. Social and Legal Studies, 16(4), 459–481.Google Scholar
  3. BBC News. (2017). Stalked Vicar Says Lancashire Police Made It “Worse”. Available at: Accessed 20 Nov 2017.
  4. BBC News. (2019). He Said He Was Close Enough to Smell My Hair. Available at: Accessed 9 Apr 2019.
  5. Bendlin, M., & Sheridan, L. (2019). Nonfatal Strangulation in a Sample of Domestically Violent Stalkers: The Importance of Recognising Coercively Controlling Behaviors. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 46(11), 1528–1541.Google Scholar
  6. Bjerregaard, B. (2000). An Empirical Study of Stalking Victimization. Violence and Victims, 15(4), 389–406.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  7. Björklund, K., Häkkänen-Nyholm, H., Sheridan, L., & Roberts, K. (2009). The Prevalence of Stalking Among Finnish University Students. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 25(4), 684–698.Google Scholar
  8. Bond, E., & Tyrrell, K. (2018). Understanding Revenge Pornography: A National Survey of Police Officers and Staff in England and Wales. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1–16.Google Scholar
  9. Bosman, J., Taylor, K., & Arango, T. (2019). A Common Trait Among Mass Shooters: Hatred Towards Women. The New York Times. Available at: Accessed 14 Aug 2019.
  10. Brewster, M. (1998). An Exploration of the Experiences and Needs of Former Intimate Stalking Victims. Final Report Submitted to the National Institute of Justice.Google Scholar
  11. Budd, T., & Mattinson, J. (2000). The Extent and the Nature of Stalking: Findings from the 1998 British Crime Survey. London: Home Office.Google Scholar
  12. Burgess, A. W., Baker, T., Greening, D., Hartman, C. R., Burgess, A. G., Douglas, J. E., & Halloran, R. (1997). Stalking Behaviours Within Domestic Violence. Journal of Family Violence, 12(4), 389–403.Google Scholar
  13. Campbell, J., & Moore, R. (2011). Self-Perceptions of Stalking Victimization and Impacts on Victim Reporting. Police Practice and Research, 12(6), 506–517.Google Scholar
  14. Catanesi, R., Carabellese, F., La Tegola, D., & Alfarano, E. (2013). Coexistence and Independence Between a Mental Disorder and Female Stalking. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 58(1), 251–254.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Cook, S., & Parrott, D. (2009). Exploring a Taxonomy for Aggression Against Women: Can It Aid Conceptual Clarity? Aggressive Behavior, 35, 462–476.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Crossman, K. A., Hardesty, J. L., & Raffaelli, M. (2016). “He Could Scare Me Without Laying Hand on Me”: Mothers’ Experiences of Nonviolent Coercive Control During Marriage and After Separation. Violence Against Women, 22(4), 454–473.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Davis, K. E., Ace, A., & Andra, M. (2000). Stalking Perpetrators and Psychological Maltreatment of Partners: Anger-Jealousy, Attachment Insecurity, Need for Control, and Break-Up Context. Violence and Victims, 15(4), 407–425.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Davis, K. E., Coker, A. L., & Sanderson, M. (2002). Physical and Mental Health Effects of Being Stalked for Men and Women. Violence and Victims, 17(4), 429–443.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Day, E. (2013, February 17). The Stalking Cure. The Guardian, pp. 17–20.Google Scholar
  20. Dobash, R. E., Dobash, R. P., & Cavanagh, K. (2009). “Out of the Blue”: Men Who Murder an Intimate Partner. Feminist Criminology, 4(3), 194–225.Google Scholar
  21. Driscoll, M. (2016). There Are Hundreds of Stalkers No One Sees. The Times. Available at: Accessed 14 Feb 2016.
  22. Duntley, J. D., & Buss, D. M. (2012). The Evolution of Stalking. Sex Roles, 66(5–6), 311–327.Google Scholar
  23. Edwards, R. (2009). Stalker Executed Mother with a Cattle Gun Hours After She Called the Police for Help. The Telegraph. Available at: Accessed 13 Nov 2009.
  24. Farnham, F. R., James, D. V., & Cantrell, P. (2000). Association Between Violence, Psychosis, and Relationship to Victim in Stalkers. The Lancet, 355(9199), 199.Google Scholar
  25. Fine, R. (1997). Being Stalked: A Memoir. London: Chatto and Windus.Google Scholar
  26. Fletcher, H. (2011, October). Stalking and Harassment—A Study of Perpetrators. A Briefing from NAPO the Trade Union and Professional Association for Family Court and Probation Staff. London: NAPO.Google Scholar
  27. Freidl, W., Neuberger, I., Schönberger, S., & Raml, R. (2011). Stalking und Gesundheit – eine österreichische Prävalenzstudie [Stalking and Health—An Austrian Prevalence Study]. Gesundheitswesen, 73(4), 264–265.Google Scholar
  28. Fremouw, W. J., Westrup, D., & Pennypacker, J. (1997). Stalking on Campus: The Prevalence and Strategies for Coping with Stalking. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 42(4), 14178J.Google Scholar
  29. Gardner, C. B. (2000). Stalking. In B. D. Clifton (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Criminology and Deviant Behavior (Vol. II, pp. 480–482). Philadelphia, PA; Hove: Brunner/Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Gelsthorpe, L., & Morris, A. (1988). Feminism and Criminology in Britain. British Journal of Criminology, 28(2), 93–110.Google Scholar
  31. Goodmark, L. (2018). Decriminalizing Domestic Violence. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  32. Hall, D. M. (1998). The Victims of Stalking. In J. R. Meloy (Ed.), The Psychology of Stalking (pp. 113–137). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  33. Harris, B. A., & Woodlock, D. (2019). Digital Coercive Control: Insights from Two Landmark Domestic Violence Studies. British Journal of Criminology, 59(3), 530–550.Google Scholar
  34. Hayes, S., & Jeffries, S. (2015). Romantic Terrorism: An Auto-Ethnography of Domestic Violence, Victimisation and Survival. Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  35. Keale, A. (with Jane Smith). (2017). If You Love Me. London: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  36. Kuehner, C., Gass, P., & Dressing, H. (2012). Mediating Effects of Stalking Victimization on Gender Differences in Mental Health. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27(2), 199–221.Google Scholar
  37. Kurbjuweit, D. (2018). Fear (I. Taylor, Trans.). London: Orion Books.Google Scholar
  38. Langhinrichsen-Rohling, J. (2012). Gender and Stalking: Current Intersections and Future Directions. Sex Roles, 66, 418–426.Google Scholar
  39. Lasdun, J. (2013). Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked. London: Jonathan Cape.Google Scholar
  40. Logan, T. K., & Cole, J. (2011). Exploring the Intersection of Partner Stalking and Sexual Abuse. Violence Against Women, 17(7), 904–924.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  41. Logan, T. K., Shannon, L., Cole, J., & Swanberg, J. (2007). Partner Stalking and Implications for Women’s Employment. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 22, 268–291.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Logan, T. K., & Walker, R. (2009). Psychological Dominance or “Business as Usual”? Trauma, Violence and Abuse, 10(3), 247–270.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Løkkegaard, S. S., Hansen, N. B., Wolf, N. M., & Elklit, A. (2019). When Daddy Stalks Mommy: Experiences of Intimate Partner Stalking and Involvement of Social and Legal Authorities When Stalker and Victim Have Children Together. Violence Against Women, 25(14), 1759–1777.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Lowney, K. S., & Best, J. (1995). Stalking Strangers and Lovers: Changing Media Typifications of a New Crime Problem. In J. Best (Ed.), Images of Issues: Typifying Contemporary Social Problems (2nd ed., pp. 33–57). New York: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  45. Lynch, K. R., Jackson, D. B., & Logan, T. K. (2019). Coercive Control, Stalking, and Guns: Professionals’ Perceived Risk of Potentially Fatal Intimate Partner Gun Violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1–22.Google Scholar
  46. Lynch, K. R., & Logan, T. K. (2018). “You Better Say Your Prayers and Get Ready”: Guns Within the Context of Partner Abuse. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 33(4), 686–711.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Malvern, J. (2018). I Am Terrified My Stalker Will Never Stop Harassing Me, Says Maitlis. The Sunday Times. Available at: Accessed 18 Jan 2018.
  48. Marías, J. (2014). The Infatuations (M. J. Costa, Trans.). London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  49. McEwan, T. E., Mullen, P. E., MacKenzie, R. D., & Ogloff, J. R. P. (2009). Violence in Stalking Situations. Psychological Medicine, 39(9), 1469–1478.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. McEwan, T. E., Mullen, P. E., & Purcell, R. (2007). Identifying Risk Factors in Stalking: A Review of Current Research. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 30, 1–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. McFarlane, J., Campbell, J. C., & Watson, K. (2002). Intimate Partner Stalking and Femicide: Urgent Implications for Women’s Safety. Behavioural Sciences and the Law, 20(1–2), 51–68.Google Scholar
  52. McVeigh, T. (2016, April 17). ‘I Was Asleep: He Steamed into the Bedroom and Started Screaming’: Lily Allen on Being Stalked, and How the Police Failed to Do Enough to Help. The Observer, pp. 8–9.Google Scholar
  53. Melton, H. C. (2007). Stalking in the Context of Intimate Partner Abuse: In the Victims’ Words. Feminist Criminology, 2(4), 347–363.Google Scholar
  54. Miller, L. (2012). Stalking: Patterns, Motives, and Intervention Strategies. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 17(6), 495–506.Google Scholar
  55. Miller, S. L., & Smolter, N. L. (2011). “Paper Abuse”: When All Else Fails, Batterers Use Procedural Stalking. Violence Against Women, 17(5), 637–650.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Mohandie, K., Meloy, J. R., McGowan, M. G., & Williams, J. (2006). The RECON Typology of Stalking: Reliability and Validity Upon a Large Sample of North American Stalkers. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 51(1), 147–155.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Morris, S., Anderson, S., & Murray, L. (2002). Stalking and Harassment in Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive Social Research.Google Scholar
  58. Morrison, K. A. (2008). Differentiating Between Physically Violent and Nonviolent Stalkers: An Examination of Canadian Cases. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 53(3), 742–751.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. Mullen, P. E., Pathé, M., & Purcell, R. (2009). Stalkers and Their Victims (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  60. Nijdam-Jones, A., Rosenfeld, B., Gerbrandij, J., Quick, E., & Galietta, M. (2018). Psychopathology of Staking Offenders: Examining the Clinical, Demographic, and Stalking Characteristics of a Community-Based Sample. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 45(5), 712–731.Google Scholar
  61. Pathé, M., & Mullen, P. E. (1997). The Impact of Stalkers on Their Victims. British Journal of Psychiatry, 170(1), 12–17.Google Scholar
  62. Piper, K. (2011). Beautiful. London: Ebury Press.Google Scholar
  63. Purcell, R., Pathé, M., & Mullen, P. E. (2002). The Prevalence and Nature of Stalking in the Australian Community. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 36, 114–120.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. Purcell, R., Pathé, M., & Mullen, P. E. (2005). Association Between Stalking Victimisation and Psychiatric Morbidity in a Random Community Sample. British Journal of Psychiatry, 187(5), 416–420.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. Quinn, B. (2019). Cyberstalking Victim Urges Social Media Firms to Tackle Problem. The Guardian. Available at: Accessed 25 Feb 2019.
  66. Reyns, B. W. (2019). Online Pursuit in the Twilight Zone: Cyberstalking Perpetration by College Students. Victims and Offenders, 14(2), 183–198.Google Scholar
  67. Reyns, B. W., Henson, B., & Fisher, B. S. (2011). Being Pursued Online: Applying Cyberlifestyle-Routine Activities Theory to Cyberstalking Victimization. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 38(11), 1149–1169.Google Scholar
  68. Reyns, B. W., Henson, B., Fisher, B. S., Fox, K. A., & Nobles, M. R. (2016). A Gendered Lifestyle-Routine Activity Approach to Explaining Victimization in Canada. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 31(9), 1719–1743.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. Saunders, D. G., Kurko, J. F., Barlow, K., & Crane, C. E. (2011). What Attracts Men Who Batter to Their Partners? An Exploratory Study. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 26(14), 2747–2763.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  70. Schlesinger, L. B. (2006). Celebrity Stalking, Homicide and Suicide: A Psychological Autopsy. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 50(1), 39–46.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  71. Sheridan, L., Davies, G., & Boon, J. (2001). The Course and Nature of Stalking: A Victim Perspective. The Howard Journal, 40(3), 215–234.Google Scholar
  72. Sinclair, H. C., & Frieze, I. H. (2005). When Courtship Persistence Becomes Intrusive Pursuit: Comparing Rejecter and Pursuer Perspectives of Unrequited Attraction. Sex Roles, 52(11/12), 839–852.Google Scholar
  73. Smith, J. (2019). Home Grown: How Domestic Violence Turns Men into Terrorists. London: Quercus Editions Ltd.Google Scholar
  74. Smythe, A. (2019). Domestic Abusers ‘Sewing GPS Trackers into Teddy Bears’. BBC News. Available at: Accessed 20 Mar 2019.
  75. Stark, E. (2007). Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  76. Stark, E. (2013). The Dangers of Dangerousness Assessment. Journal of Family and Intimate Partner Violence Quarterly, 6(2), 13–22.Google Scholar
  77. Storey, J. E., Hart, S. D., Reid Meloy, J., & Reavis, J. A. (2009). Psychopathy and Stalking. Law and Human Behaviour, 33(3), 237–246.Google Scholar
  78. Taylor-Dunn, H., Bowen, E., & Gilchrist, E. A. (2018). Reporting Harassment and Stalking to the Police: A Qualitative Study of Victims’ Experiences. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1–28.Google Scholar
  79. The Times. (2017, April 24). Failure to Act Against Stalkers Is Linked to Killings. The Times, p. 8.Google Scholar
  80. The Telegraph. (2019). Mechanic Saves Stalking Victim When He Finds Tracker Under Her Car During MoT. The Telegraph. Available at: Accessed 12 Jan 2019.
  81. Thomas, K. A., Joshi, M., & Sorenson, S. B. (2014). “Do You Know What It Feels Like to Drown?”: Strangulation as Coercive Control in Intimate Relationships. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 38(1), 124–137.Google Scholar
  82. Thompson, C. M., Stewart, A. L., & Dennison, S. M. (2020). Using Dynamic Contextual Factors to Better Understand the Etiology and Escalation of Stalking Violence. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 47(1), 99–122.Google Scholar
  83. Tidy, J. (2019). Stalkerware: The Software That Spies on Your Partner. BBC News. Available at: Accessed 25 Oct 2019.
  84. Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. (1998). Stalking in America: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey. Washington: National Institute of Justice and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.Google Scholar
  85. Weare, S. (2018). ‘I Feel Permanently Traumatized by It’: Physical and Emotional Impacts Reported by Men Forced to Penetrate Women in the United Kingdom. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1–26.Google Scholar
  86. Weiss, K. (2010). Male Sexual Victimisation: Examining Men’s Experiences of Rape and Sexual Assault. Men and Masculinities, 12, 275–298.Google Scholar
  87. Whyte, S., Petch, E., Penny, C., & Reiss, D. (2008). Who Stalks? A Description of Patients at a High Security Hospital with a History of Stalking Behaviour. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 18, 27–38.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  88. Zona, M. A., Sharma, K. K., & Lane, J. (1993). A Comparative Study of Erotomanic and Obsessional Subjects in a Forensic Sample. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 38(4), 894–903.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Law and CriminologyRoyal Holloway University of LondonEgham, Surrey, EnglandUK

Personalised recommendations