Stalking is a relatively recent phenomenon. Attention to stalking began in the late 1980s in the United States following the death of actress Rebecca Schaeffer, who was killed by a fan, R. J. Bardo. The young man had become obsessed with the woman and had harassed her for years, leading to the tragic end.
The word stalking derives from the verb to stalk, which literally translates as to chase, a term that etymologically belongs to the language of hunting: the stalker is the predator who pursues a victim, i.e. his prey. A stalker is a nagging harasser1 who engages in a set of repeated and intrusive behaviours of surveillance and control, seeking contact and communication with a victim who is annoyed and/or worried by such unwelcome attention and behaviour. At the basis of the stalker’s behaviour there is a dysfunction of the relationship and interpersonal communication.
Women victims of stalking report a number of disorders as a consequence of repeated harassment, and it is the persecutory behaviour that often forces them to radically change their habits and daily routines.
The psychological consequences observed in stalked persons can be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, somatisation, and sexual aversion.2 These disorders, like others that may occur, may be temporary and related to the individual’s ability to adapt to the criminal act suffered. Emotionally, stalking victims experience shame, guilt, fear, anxiety, anger… They often tend to isolate themselves, change their lifestyle, and display avoidance behaviour. It is clear, therefore, that the consequences of stalking are social as well as psychological, not to mention physical. Victims may suffer from eating disorders, sleep disorders, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, smoking. Victims whose lives are deeply marked by fear. “We live in fear, and this is how we do not live’ Buddha.
Curci, Galeazzi, Secchi, La sindrome delle molestie assillanti (stalking), Bollati Boringhieri
Gargiulo B.C., Damiani R., The stalker, or the lurking persecutor. Classification, assessment and psycho-behavioural profiles, Franco Angeli