Have you ever been stalked or been afraid that someone is stalking you? It's a terrifying experience.
Psychiatrist and stalking expert, Dr. Doreen Orion, on obsessive love and stalkers. Learn what to do if you become a victim of stalking and how to tell if a stalker will become violent.
Dr. Doreen Orion: Guest speaker.
David: HealthyPlace.com moderator.
The people in blue are audience members.
BEGINNING OF CHAT TRANSCRIPT
David: Good Evening. I'm David Roberts. I'm the moderator for tonight's conference. I want to welcome everyone to HealthyPlace.com. Tonight, our topic is on "Stalking and Obsessive Love". We have a wonderful guest: Psychiatrist and stalking expert, Dr. Doreen Orion author of the book: "I Know You Really Love Me: A Psychiatrist's Journal of Erotomania, Stalking and Obsessive Love".
We'll be talking about why stalkers do what they do, the different types of stalkers and their impacts on victims. Also, learn what to do if you become a victim of a stalker.
Good Evening, Dr. Orion and welcome to HealthyPlace.com. Thank you for agreeing to be our guest. You were a victim of a stalker yourself. Can you share the details of that with us?
Dr. Orion: I've been stalked for over ten years by a former patient I treated for 2 weeks.
David: What happened?
Dr. Orion: This person has erotomania - the delusional belief that another is in love with you. She has followed me home, peeked in our window, sent numerous notes and letters. She even moved to Colorado from Arizona, following my husband and I.
David: That must be very frightening. How are you dealing with that, emotionally?
Dr. Orion: It's a process. At first, I was definitely in denial that it was happening. Then I became angry as well as afraid. My emotions vary depending on what's going on with the stalker, where she is, etc. I'm very fortunate that I have a wonderful support system.
David: Why is it that you couldn't simply have this person arrested and taken away?
Dr. Orion: I wish it were as simple as that, and that is a large part of why I wrote my book; to help educate law enforcement as well as victims. In many states, even today, unless a stalker makes a direct threat, the police do not arrest.
David: Dr. Orion, I'm assuming there are different reasons why people stalk. Can you elaborate on that and also on the types of people, personality-wise, who do this type of thing?
Dr. Orion: In the case of the person stalking me, she is delusional, psychotic. Those types are often the most difficult to stop because they simply do not understand that the victim truly wants no contact.
David: What about the other types?
Dr. Orion: The more common type of stalker is one who has been in a relationship with the victim and can't let go. These people are extremely narcissistic - they want what they want and they do not care if the victim does not want the same.
David: I was sharing my personal story with someone in the lobby earlier tonight. I dated a woman about 6 years ago. I ended the relationship. First, the phone calls came at all hours with the hang-ups. Then, it escalated to the point when I walked outside my house one morning, my windshield was hammered in. I called the police and nothing could be done. Then one night, I came home and she had broken a window in the rear of my house and was inside sitting in the living room waiting for me. I share that story because when I announced the conference I heard from several people who shared their relationship "stalking" story with me.
Here are a couple of audience questions:
xtatic: Are there things you can do to get out of a relationship; where you think the person will become obsessive? Is there anything you can do to to make the situation lessen?
Dr. Orion: You have to be firm and clear. Don't try to be overly "nice." You shouldn't be obnoxious, but being too nice can send the wrong message. Women, particularly, often want to "let the guy down easy." They are concerned about his feelings. So when he starts making the obsessive calls or turning up at her work, she's "nice" and tries to reason with him. That's just giving him what he wants; contact. I also wanted to respond to what you said earlier: Every time I speak at professional conferences on stalking, so many people tell me their stories. So, what you experienced in people sharing their's is very common. About 8% U.S. women will be stalked some time in their lives.
David: You were stalked by a woman, as was I. Is it unusual that women are the stalkers?
Dr. Orion: Yes. It seems to be that an overwhelming majority of stalkers are male (in the 80%s). However, I also believe that women stalking men are underreported.
DawnA: Is there a profile of a stalker?
Dr. Orion: There is no one stalker profile and one of the big problems in researching the stalking literature is that no 2 research centers can agree on what to call different types of stalkers. The only exception is erotomania, which I've described above, since that is the only psychiatric diagnosis routinely associated with stalking.
David: Can a person only find out that another person, maybe the person they are dating, is a potential stalker when the "breakup" comes, or are there some early warning signs?
Dr. Orion: I'll use the pronoun "he," since male stalkers are more prevalent: A man who will later stalk a woman, has been in a relationship which is frequently controlling, while the relationship is going on. i.e., he might tell her what to wear or that she can't see her female friends. It is also not unusual for stalking behavior to begin before the relationship ends, i.e. he might show up at her place of work to make sure she's really there or listen in on her phone calls.