Are you a woman in Portsmouth (England) and a target of sadistic stalking?
“Eh, of what ?”
If you follow this link: https://www.le.ac.uk/press/ebulletin/archive/speaker_sheridan.html, you can find out more about the phenomenon “sadistic stalking” (forensic psychologist Lorraine Sheridan’s British work). At the bottom of this web page, you can find the main points.
It concerns a highly manipulative pattern of positive and negative behaviours (which can lead to trauma-bonding, better known as the Stockholm syndrome) and the gradual but steady loss of the victim’s control over almost all areas of her life. It is usually carried out by someone the stalker barely knows or may not even know at all.
Victims of sadistic stalking are generally slowly but very deliberately isolated by their stalkers, their lives often torn to shreds in the course of years.
What does this mean in real life?
That you’re not alone! There are up to 45 women in Portsmouth right now – maybe more – who are in the same kind of nightmare as you are!
According to National Stalking Advocacy Service Paladin (see this page: https://paladinservice.co.uk/key-facts-and-figures/ ), “data from the Crime Survey of England and Wales shows up to 700, 000 women are stalked each year (2009-12)”. That could include 90,300 victims of sadistic stalking, then, if 12.9% of those cases concern sadistic stalking, as in Sheridan’s study.
The size of the combined populations of England (53.01 million in 2011) and Wales (approximately 3,063,456 in 2011) was 56,063,456. 700,000 stalked women represent a little over 1% of that total population, but that population also contains minors and men. So let’s say that about 0.5% of women is stalked.
(This excludes stalking that is 100% cyberstalking.)
There is almost no help for these women. The digital age has made it much more expensive and complicated for police to investigate stalking. As sadistic stalking tends to involve one or more unknown stalkers (and is often very subtle and skilled as well as engineered to make the victim sound crazy), police officers particularly cannot afford to allocate resources to investigating such cases.
If I assume that stalking is evenly distributed geographically, which it won’t be as some stalkers are more likely to operate in surroundings that make stalking easier, then I arrive at the following estimate for Portsmouth, where I live.
Portsmouth’s population in 2010 was 207,100. The working age population was 145,000. If I take 50% of that as the number of women, I end up with up to about 360 stalked women in Portsmouth alone. If 12.9% of those cases concern sadistic stalking, as in Sheridan’s study, then about 45 women in Portsmouth were targeted by sadistic stalkers in 2010/2011.
Sadistic stalking can go on for decades, and nobody can help you put a stop to it. There is a lot of fancy talk out there, but in reality, when you are being stalked like this, you are largely on your own.
You may even run into the bullshit opinion that there are no stalked women, only psychotic and hysteric women and attention-seeking women.
It’s not true that only young and attractive women get stalked. You can get stalked because you remind a man of his mother of because you are having a bad hair day.
So in real life, you may find yourself being forced to live a nightmare, on your own, your health likely to decline under the prolonged stress. You can develop things such as skin infections (fungal or bacterial).
You may even suffer a heart attack as you may often be confronted with acts of cruelty. This can be shocking.
I am no longer often angry with stalkers because I’ve come to realize that they can’t help what they are doing. It’s complicated. We provide medical care to people with kidney problems, but not to people with brain differences that can for example be caused by severe childhood abuse. Apparently, such differences in the brain can result in stalking behaviours like these.
But here is the thing.
If 45 or so women in Portsmouth alone are being targeted by sadistic stalkers, we should be able to make a fist – or rather, a circle of connected hands – and support each other. That way, we could instantly put a stop to one of the key objectives of sadistic stalking – isolating the victim.
You may have been hiding the fact that you are being stalked because when you talk about it, you usually sound like a complete lunatic yet when people believe you, they become scared.
Friends and acquaintances disappear and those who don’t disappear by themselves will be pushed away by the stalkers. They may call friends, relatives and acquaintances, pretend to be someone else and give them a reason to stay away from you.
You may feel guilty about being stalked, even though you know that you did nothing to deserve it.
You may feel like you should have been able to prevent it, somehow, even though on a rational level, you know that there is nothing you could have done differently that would have made a difference.
You may be experiencing disbelief. “This can’t possibly be happening. So it must be me. Am I merely imaging things? Am I going crazy?” This may be more common at the start of being stalked, when you notice things that make no sense, things that – so you think – can’t really be true. Such as people taking photos of you, (some of) your postal mail disappearing or the feeling that someone has been in your home, or just a vague indescribable feeling of uneasiness that you can have when someone has been in your home but you don’t realize it.
And if you are a foreigner, you may not even be sure if what is happening could be “British humour” or not. British humour is often slightly sadistic, too, after all. Designed to trigger “Schadenfreude”. Are anonymous people around playing pranks on you, perhaps? You may also find yourself tripped up by British slang that you didn’t recognize as such.
You are bound to feel alone and powerless and you may often walk around with a frown on your face, looking and feeling angry or scared or frustrated or bewildered. You may have become a bit zombie-like – because that is what prolonged powerlessness can do, for various reasons. Some people may think that you’re really odd, for instance, people at supermarket tills.
But you are not alone.
Earlier today, before I started writing this page, I passed a woman on my way to the Aldi and I wondered “Is she one of them?” I looked at her, deliberately, and she looked back and smiled. She was about my age.
A few years ago, the Portsmouth News reported the suicide of a 54-year-old women in Southsea. I was 55 at the time. I am still wondering if she too was a victim of sadistic stalking. Stalkers may target several people simultaneously. Perhaps it helps obscure what they are doing, makes them look less fixated on one person.
So let’s find each other and start supporting each other. All 45 of us or whatever the number for Portsmouth is in reality, and many of the others too, for instance those who have delusional fixation stalkers or stalkers who are a mix of these two stalking types, and others as well.
The other two stalking behaviours in Sheridan’s taxonomy (ex-partner stalking/harassment and infatuation harassment) appear to be a bit different, often less secretive, and more clearly to see for others.
With some stalkers, telling them off in a stern tone works, but it can encourage other stalkers.
By the way, the advice to have no contact with a stalker has become meaningless in the digital age. There is no way of knowing that “Carl Patterson” who you don’t know is really, say, “Pete Jefferson” who you do know and if you suspect it, you will sound paranoid as this example is so obvious. If the example is less obvious, you will still sound paranoid.
Apart from that, you will be trying to make your life work in spite of being stalked and you can’t do that without trying to find out who and what you are dealing with, and finding out whether it might be possible to negotiate.
Let’s connect. We could meet every Saturday at 11:00 or 14:00 in the HIVE at the public library in Guildhall Square. I don’t know yet if I will get around to starting this myself in Portsmouth, but if I do, I will post details on this page later.
Women and men in other locations can do this too, of course. Track each other down and start supporting each other.
I am aware of the risk that meeting like this might also attract stalkers or, say, people with narcissistic personality disorder who feel better about themselves when they hear about other people’s misery, but I think those of us who are being stalked and certainly those who have been stalked for many years have learned enough about stalking behaviours to recognize any wolves in our midst. And we could set up a safety net for ourselves, too. Plus, there can be safety in being visible to the public.
Stalkers don’t necessarily mean harm, but it’s impossible to know what is going through the mind of anyone who is stalking you. That creates a big chunk of the problem, of the life-stealing in stalking in general.
Once we join hands, however, we can say “We’ve got this.” and feel strong and in control again, instead of “possibly crazy”, powerless and vulnerable.
I mean, heck, isn’t this an obvious solution?!
That said, please read the disclaimer at the bottom of this web page. I cannot protect anyone from anything, nor guarantee anything, and cannot be held liable for the results of any decisions you make or don’t make or steps you take or don’t take.
I wish everyone well, and I wish nobody any harm of any kind.
Some general advice follows, however.
- The first thing to do if you have any type of stalker? Secure your home. Change locks, add extra locks, make shimmying the locks take up so much time that it becomes very unattractive.
- Second thing to do? Stop posting anything online. Do not share any wishes, hopes and frustrations etc online. No photos of your home etc either. No remarks about friends or relatives.
- Impossible if you are your own boss. A solution is to hire someone to handle social media for you. Keep that away from your own computers and e-mail addresses. Outsource it. Do not postpone this if you can afford it. It may safeguard your income. Once you’ve lost your income, it’s too late.
- Another complication is not being able to ignore e-mails etc from strangers if you are your own boss. Here too, outsourcing may help and it is worth the expense. Use one general e-mail address for enquiries and outsource the handling of e-mails to that address.
- Do the same thing for phone calls. Engage a company that can answer your phone for you. Use one number for general inquiries, and then redirect your calls to that secretarial service.
- The third thing to do is to make it hard for your stalker to isolate you. As soon as you know or suspect that you are being stalked, tell friends, colleagues, relatives and acquaintances about it, calmly. (Don’t explain in detail what is going on. Merely say that you have an anonymous stalker. That’s right, even if you have a suspicion of who it might be or know who it is.) Tell them not to pay any attention to anyone contacting them and for example claiming to be a good friend who wants to help you with something behind your back. That way, they don’t end up gaslighting you too, without knowing it, which would be likely to make you distance yourself from them. Tell them to call you – they know your voice – if they receive strange e-mails from you and tell them not to give up if they find it hard to reach you by phone or e-mail. Dead/disconnected line, weird message on phone line, no response to e-mails. Also, if you don’t do this now, the isolation you’ll eventually experience can make you want to share things online, or even vent online, which makes you more vulnerable and gives the stalker more of what he or she wants. If you do slip up, delete it as soon as you can.)
(19 March 2019)
If you are looking for legal recourse, you have three options, namely public prosecution, private prosecution or civil proceedings.
You can forget about public prosecution. You need to cooperation of police and CPS for that and you are never going to get that unless you’ve been physically attacked (and/or killed) and by then, it’s too late. Your chances of successful private prosecution are slim as well, as you need permission for that and it’s rarely granted. Civil recovery is your best option. The point? Spare yourself the effort of doing what is usually recommended and the ensuing immense frustration. British police are not going to help you, and a 2017 report by two British watchdogs agrees. Police had failed all the victims in all the cases that the report had looked at.
Please see the disclaimer. I wrote the above on the basis of my personal experiences in Britain. I am not a lawyer.
More later. I am writing a paper on the topic.