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I've had peripheral contact with stalking on multiple occasions. I have two useful tips.

The first one is that stalkers try to convince themselves that the object of their desire would love them back if they only had a chance. When they learn otherwise, desire can easily flip to hatred, then to attempts to destroy a life. Therefore if you are being stalked and can avoid letting the stalker know how you feel about it, do that. You can see that one in play in this case where she pursued him for years, without the nasty behavior, until she realized that he didn't love her. Then she turned vindictive.

The second tip is that if you're going to stalk someone, don't stalk a psychiatrist. It is very, very hard for anyone other than a psychiatrist to get someone committed to an institution until after the stalker has committed a conventional crime. However if you're stalking a psychiatrist, the psychiatrist can, as a professional psychiatrist, evaluate you and decide to institutionalize you. And whatever institution you go to - which is generally associated with said psychiatrist - is likely to support the psychiatrist in that evaluation.




As a corollary to your awesome "don't stalk a psychiatrist" tip — if you're going to stalk someone, don't stalk a federal agent!

A close friend was stalked for years by someone who sent increasingly threatening e-mails to him, his ex-girlfriend, and her family with varying From: lines.

Local police in three different states were pretty sure my friend was the culprit because he knew a lot about computers. He got a restraining order and a pretty harsh interrogation; under the stress, he ended up failing out of university. The stalker got away with this stuff for years and never got close to getting caught.

The bad guy's mistake was to start sending e-mail with a "From:" line of a Department of Homeland Security agent. Turns out the FBI knows their stuff and does not tolerate this nonsense, and they unravelled the situation within about a week.

It also turns out that "impersonating a federal agent" is much worse than ordinary stalking — the bad guy is serving a 15-year prison sentence.


That's an awesome finish to that story.

Anonymous stalking has always struck me as self-defeating. You want attention drawn to your existence, but don't want to admit who you are? How is that useful?


"Anonymous stalking has always struck me as self-defeating. You want attention drawn to your existence, but don't want to admit who you are? How is that useful?"

Because it could be anyone, knowing specifically who is harassing you leads you to understand the limits of someone's power (and giving you avenues of law enforcement escalation) versus driving someone batty with suspicion and mistrust.


I've experienced that flip. It's scary. I should have never rejected the stalker.

I've been told, and believe, that the only course of action for the stalked is to COMPLETELY IGNORE the stalker, until something threatening and legally actionable happens.

Anything else you do, positive or negative, simply adds fuel to the fire.

It really sucks and makes you feel helpless, but the legal system simply doesn't offer any refuge for stalking victims unless it passes a certain threat threshold.

After about a year of ignoring him, my stalker got bored. But I still fear his return. I got a single tweet from him about 6months ago that made me worry for a bit, but it was just 1 single tweet and didn't continue.


Agree, completely ignore a stalker, BUT save a record of every contact made. If you have a trusted third party, or two, periodically give them copies of everything, so that if things escalate they can vouch for you and the ongoing nature of the harassment.

---

Edit: Thinking about it more, I retract the "ignore comment", and replace it with "use your judgement", as the best response will vary with the situation. I stand by the "keep a record" comment.


In the UK, stalking is now specifically a criminal offence (since late last year):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20482930


That law does seem like it would be effective, but it also seems hugely broad. Just reading it it seems like you can accuse anyone of "stalking" even after contacting you a couple of times...

I'm not saying such laws aren't good, I'm just saying that the way that particular one is written means that it couple potentially overly criminalise a lot of situations.


It wouldn't be the first time that something has been over-criminalized, but you can read what the Home Office is saying about the new measures here:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/about-us/corporate-publications...

Note that because this was introduced as a "patch" to a 1997 act, it's very hard to understand what the law now actually says. If only they'd use version control ...


This is in line with advice that other people that I know have received.

I am glad that it seems to have worked out for you.


>"...avoid letting the stalker know how you feel about it..."

No, this is not always the right answer. What you're saying is basically, "lead the stalker on."

How to handle the stalker depends on what kind of mental illness (if any) they are afflicted with. Depending on what's going on in the stalker's head, they may often fly off the handle, get angry, but then (fairly quickly) find a new target to focus their energy on. With many people, the longer you draw the rejection out, the worse it gets.

Here's some better advice: get in contact with a good lawyer and a good psychologist. Frankly, it's a little irresponsible for you to be handing out advice like this.


Is this based on your experience?


Contacting professionals seems like sound advice regardless of his personal experience.


I presume that that comment was directed at the, "...it's a little irresponsible..." bit. Not the contacting professionals part.

I am all for contacting professionals. Stalking is potentially a life or death matter. You don't want to go with random advice from random people on the internet.

That said, if your professionals offer advice similar to what professionals in the past have told people that I know, this will be the basic message. Once someone has formed an extreme enough obsession that it becomes stalking, there is no easy way to let them down. Nobody can predict who will flip out, or what manner that will take. The legal system does not offer effective protection against people who have not actually broken the law yet.

Therefore people that I know who have talked to professionals in the field have been told that if the stalker has not yet turned negative, cut off contact, and be careful to avoid confronting the stalker with how unwelcome the attention is.


"Depending on what's going on in the stalker's head, they may often fly off the handle, get angry, but then (fairly quickly) find a new target to focus their energy on. With many people, the longer you draw the rejection out, the worse it gets."

And your advocacy of confrontation is also highly irresponsible. Take your own advice.


I don't know whether you're just unnecessarily petty or if you genuinely failed to understand, but I'll assume that I wasn't clear enough.

I never advocated confrontation - not by a long shot. I said that being direct may sometimes be necessary. I thought it was pretty clear that the only advice I gave is to contact a professional.


I'm not being petty, if your only advice is to contact a professional, discussing the positives and negatives of contact runs contrary to and distracts from your intentions.


There's a difference between ignoring and leading someone on.


Scorched earth, like Saddam's army torching Kuwaiti oil fields as they retreated in desert storm. If they can't have it, no one can, I guess.


This happened to my bicycle. A thief tried to break the lock, didn't succeed, and instead decided to kick in the wheels and knife the saddle. That left me with €100 damage, almost the cost of the bicycle (a simple city bicycle).


"Therefore if you are being stalked and can avoid letting the stalker know how you feel about it, do that."

I suppose it does keep it from progressing to the vindictive stages, but they'll still continue at that stage for years, possibly even decades. People that fixated don't just "get bored", especially after sunk cost.


If you're stalked, is it possible to ask the opinion of psychiatrists before starting legal procedures in order to give more credit to your claims ?


No psychiatrist is going to institutionalize SOMEONE ELSE because of YOUR testimony.

No legal procedures exist to put down a stalker until after an actual crime has been committed. Really, really, REALLY liking someone is not a crime.


Almost true. In most cases of stalking, you're right, because there is no evidence of mental illness.

To your point--no psychiatrist will institutionalize someone on your testimony, but a judge might. Depending on the state, a judge can send a person on a 72-hour court order to a psychiatric facility on the basis of an affidavit from a concerned party. If you can convince the judge, which in my state is apparently not difficult, the person wins a psychiatric admission.


I would receive advice from someone who has dealt with these issues before even thinking about such a course of advice.

"Lock em up!" feels like a great idea. Until you wonder what happens between them hearing about it, and showing up in court. Or after they are released from the psychiatric admission.

This is a plan that can backfire..badly.


> No legal procedures exist to put down a stalker until after an actual crime has been committed.

That's not really true without jurisdiction filter on the assertion: there are jurisdictions in which harassment itself is a crime (in all circumstances, not just for protected categories or e.g. in the workplace). For instance, the UK with the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.


Psychiatrists can have more kinds of opinions than 'institutionalise this person'.




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