Justina Matthew is a Finance writer with extensive experience working for a digital marketing company as a senior writer.
1. It's Not Always a Stranger.
Sometimes, creepy stalkers aren't strangers. They can be people you know.
You may believe that the sibling of a high school classmate or buddy is too young to be a stalker, but this is not always the case. Stalkers are frequently immature and unstable, and they may not even be aware that what they are doing is inappropriate. They may see someone as "just pals" even though they've been stalking them for years. At the heart of stalking is the stalker's urge to have complete control over another person's life and keep them close at all times so they don't leave or forget about them.
It could also be an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend who refuses to take no for an answer (or doesn't understand what "no" means), a teacher who abuses his power over students by threatening them with bad grades if they don't agree to date him/her, or even just someone from work who keeps calling after hours because he thinks it'll get him promoted up the corporate ladder faster than his peers because of some weird obsession with being liked by everyone around him.
2. They Could Have a Mental Illness.
If you believe that only the mentally ill are capable of stalking, you are mistaken. While some stalkers do suffer from mental problems, the majority do not. Many persons who participate in this kind of conduct have never been diagnosed with anything. Stalking isn't usually caused by mental illness, and self-diagnosis isn't advised.
Still, if you suspect that a stalker might be mentally ill, it's important to get help from a professional if you do, there are some things to keep in mind about this possibility:
- Anxiety disorders: These include Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). These conditions can cause intense feelings of worry about everyday events or activities; such concerns may be debilitating enough to interfere with regular life functions. While these disorders can lead to many kinds of compulsive behaviors (such as excessive cleaning), social media stalking has been observed among sufferers as well.
- Substance abuse disorders: People with substance abuse problems are prone to impulsivity and sensation seeking, which could make social media stalking enticing.
- Borderline personality disorder (BPD): This is a pervasive pattern of instability that occurs in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior lasting at least five years.
3. Their Harassment May Escalate.
For the person being stalked, the harassment may escalate. The stalker may use more sophisticated tactics and tools to track you down, perhaps even trying to contact your friends and family. They could also start contacting you directly by phone or email rather than just through social media sites.
The situation can become very frightening at this point because it's no longer just a matter of using public information about their victim; now they're getting personal information from their victim's personal circles as well (such as email addresses).
4. They May Have Issues With Reality.
Stalkers on social media may have a problem with reality. For starters, social media is a fantasy realm, and stalkers frequently consider it as more real than the "real world." They may also have an exaggerated feeling of entitlement, believing that online connections should be just as deep and significant as real-life ones.
The online world is a form of virtual reality that allows people to live out their fantasies or escape from their problems by creating an alternate identity. It's not uncommon for people who log into social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to feel like they're living two lives—one where they're happy and popular, the other where they struggle socially or emotionally but are hiding their pain behind a veil of digital anonymity.
Stalkers thrive on this kind of duality because it helps them justify their behavior while also making them feel special: "I'm so good at stalking someone that I can pretend to be someone else entirely!"
5. They May Get Physical.
If you're worried that a stalker is getting close to you physically, the best thing you can do is call the police. It's not unheard of for stalkers to become violent when they feel cornered or trapped by law enforcement, so it's important that you don't feel alone in this situation—and there are lots of resources available if things get hairy.
6. It can be difficult to prove their behavior is stalking.
Stalking is a complex phenomenon that often involves subtle, indirect, or insidious behaviors. As such, it's not easy to define, and it could be difficult to prove in court.
If you are being stalked online by someone you know (who uses the same social media platform as you), you might have more luck reporting the situation than if your stalker was someone unrelated to your offline life — especially if he or she has no criminal record of any kind. However, if your stalker does have an existing criminal record, proving what exactly happened between the two of you may help convince authorities that his/her actions represent an escalation into something more threatening than mere nuisance behavior (a common legal definition of stalking).
7. They are almost always male.
Men make up the vast majority of stalkers on social media. Surprisingly, men account for more than 80% of all stalkers . Stalking can affect both men and women, although men are more likely to be stalked by a stranger, and women are more likely to be stalked by a close friend.
There's also some evidence that suggests that men use technology in order to get information about their victims more often than women do.
8. They may consider themselves your lover.
If you've ever been stalked before, you may have noticed that your stalker may be fixated on you. They might spend a lot of time thinking about you and how wonderful it would be to be with you.
Stalkers can also experience delusions and believe that their victims are actually their lovers. This is known as erotomania, or the belief that someone is in love with them when there's no evidence for this claim. This isn't just an isolated incident for social media stalkers; it's common for all types of stalkers to experience these kinds of delusional beliefs about their victims' feelings toward them.
This is a symptom of mental illness—the same kind of illness that makes it difficult for people who suffer from mental illnesses like schizophrenia, Othello or bipolar disorder to distinguish between what's real versus what they imagine in their mind's eye (or even another dimension). So while many people think they can help themselves by simply blocking someone on social media, this action only further fuels the delusionary fire inside the stalker’s mind—and often ends up making things worse down the line if not addressed properly at the first sign(s).
9. They can go through extreme measures.
They could use the knowledge they acquire on the internet to get closer to their objectives. This could entail checking your phone and email, as well as following you around wherever you go.
They may try to befriend you by pretending they're interested in getting to know you better or helping you out with something important (like a job). They might even invite themselves over to your house or ask for a ride somewhere. You should be cautious if someone who doesn't know you suddenly starts contacting you out of the blue—especially if they start asking questions about other people close to you, such as "What does he/she look like?, or Where does he/she live?"
10. Stalkers can be persistent, even if you ignore them.
If you're being harassed on social media, there are several things you can do to deal with it:
- Ignore the person's messages.
- Block them.
- Unfriend them and delete their details from your account.
This is an extreme move that should be used only after all other options have been exhausted—if someone is pestering you online, they can continue to bother you even after you've blocked or unfriended them! It's the same with canceling your account; if you want to, go ahead and do it! Keep in mind that deleting your profile doesn't guarantee that the harassment will stop entirely since stalkers tend to dig up information about their victims online (for example by finding old photos posted on Facebook), so don't expect that deleting one piece of evidence will stop everything else from happening too. But at least now they won't be able to send messages directly through Facebook itself anymore either!
If someone is stalking you through social media, he or she might not stop until you get help from a third party like law enforcement agencies or a mental health professional.
If this person has been contacted by the police and told to leave you alone, but continues to harass you online, it may be time for more drastic measures.