Do an internet search on “Ina Steiner” or check out this Wikipedia page. Learn about the ordeal she and her husband went through when very powerful staff at a very powerful company (eBay) didn’t like some of the couple’s critical blog posts. Those eBay folks, one of them a former police captain, then resorted to sadistic stalking tactics to try to get Ms Steiner and her husband to shut up and maybe also to punish them. Sadism isn’t sweet, but it can be a sign of malignant psychopathy. Nothing funny or flattering or romantic about it.
Can you see that stalking is often devastating, destructive and traumatic? Even often at least to some degree for the person who is doing the stalking?
Stranger-stalking is often supported by society’s otherization of targets and caused by society’s prolonged otherization of perpetrators. It’s frequently long-term.
Stalking victims are often rejected and become profoundly otherized because of how the human brain functions. Its metabolism, its high energy consumption and its need to use the available energy as efficiently as possible make it tend to use often-used neural pathways, just like it is easier to drive in the existing tracks in a deeply rutted road and follow the crowds than to drive against them.
When you express something that clashes with other people’s beliefs and expectations of how the world works, it tends to make those other people experience you, the saying the things that don’t match their expectations and beliefs, as a threat. It feels less threatening to them to assume that there is simply something wrong with you.
People expect what they are familiar with and they tend to fear the unfamiliar. When my phones kept overheating as a result of hacking and as a result of our WhatsApp calls being recorded on my phone and the data ending up on a third party’s equipment, as crazy as that sounds, when my phone cut out because its temperature got too high, the other person assumed that the phone had cut out because my phone credit had run out. He was aware of the stalking and hacking, but it had resulted in financial problems and it was easier for his brain to assume that my phone credit had suddenly run out. That was within his expectations of how the world works.
Heck, perhaps the hacker simply switched off the phone. He also once kept cutting the connection, no matter what communication channel I used after I mentioned that loved reconnecting with an old friend in the States who I had hoped to start cooperating with in a professional context. This might point toward it being an autistic person poking fun and having turned what is normally seen as a weakness into an art form. Except, at first sight, the sadism in it appears to be deliberate. That would not be typical for autism at all. He’s likely simply not aware of the potential negative consequences of such actions for others, which then would make it not deliberate at all and, yes, point toward autism. But it could also be deliberate, an expression of anger built up over a lifetime of otherization of an autistic person. Or it could of course not be an autistic person at all but a callous one and the activity intended to harm. After all, while this particular incident can still be seen as humorous, many other things that have happened within this context were purely sadistic and/or destructive or obstructive.
Mention “hacking” and even scientists may respond irrationally and instead of letting you use one of their clean laptops and give you a clean USB stick to take home may ask you to use your compromised equipment (and hook it up to their wifi). That’s because you are saying something that clashes with their expectations of safety and security, their need for it, and that feels threatening to them. As there is nobody else, you become the personification of that threat. They don’t want you near their equipment. This does not happen consciously.
Keep that in mind.
The guy in the above photos is a communications expert. In these photos, he’s arriving at a courthouse for stalking one of his (by then former) colleagues. Fast forward to the present. He’s in prison for life. For years, he engaged in so-called sadistic stalking (also known as resentful stalking). He later tried to kill a different woman. How many women had he stalked before?
He stalked a woman in Gosport and Fareham in the English county of Hampshire. She was a colleague who just like him was working at the Navy. She was married. Among other things, this guy bugged the couple’s bedroom. He also did crazy things like break into her home, take some of her birth control pills and put them in a cup at their place of work.
Now imagine that you’re the victim and you have to tell people what someone else is doing. You’re going to sound crazy but you are merely describing someone else’s strange behavior. If you were to describe a robbery, then nobody in their right mind would accuse you of being a robber or of being crazy. Because people experience hearing about that as less threatening.
Here’s another example. In August 2022, I found my little bottle with CoQ10 capsules sitting empty on the kitchen counter. Because the capsules had been sticking together, I’d had to take them all out the previous time I wanted one. I separated them, kept one and put the remaining three back. That’s why I knew that the bottle should not have been empty. There’s no point in telling anyone about something like this, is there?
Her name is Tracey Morgan, but she was called Mrs Sant when the stalking began. She worked at the Navy.
After her husband left this woman – because of the stalking – and her job had evaporated, she moved back in with her parents.
This guy then relocated too and started stalked her in the county in which her parents were living after her husband left her because of the stalking.
Her stalker did other bizarre things besides take a number of birth control pills from her home and leave them in a cup at her work. He also disabled her car and then helped her with it, took underwear from her home and draped it over a car’s antenna or mirror, and other nutty things such as cause leaks in her home when the woman and her husband were on holiday abroad.
He was a communications specialist for the Royal Navy so he also bugged her home, including her bedroom. The man who kidnapped Natascha Kampusch and kept her imprisoned for eight years also was a communications specialist (see here).
In the above video, I talk about how you may be able to identify that you’ve just become the target of long-term stranger-stalking. The police often holds it against stalking targets that they didn’t instantly realize what they were dealing with and didn’t “vanish off the surface of the earth” at that point or that they tried to find out who and what on earth they were dealing with by trying to engage with the entity impacting their life.
(You may think that the last thing you should do is antagonize whoever it is, and you may be right, but in some cases, pushing a stalker away by being loud and verbally aggressive is the only thing that will get him to move on. Or it may reveal his or her identity.)
At the moment, the only way you, as a stalking target, can stop persistent stranger-stalking is to relocate across a great distance, overnight (without announcement), to a place that you have no connections to, cut off all contact with people you used to know, abandon your old hobbies as well as whatever your profession was and start living under an assumed name. If you’re in a highly regulated country with excessive administration and registration (such as the Netherlands), this will be extra challenging, because a hacker can quickly find you by hacking into a database (through technology or via social engineering) and he doesn’t need to do this himself; he can for example hire a hacker to do it for him.
Ms Morgan’s stalker was sent to prison several times – which is rare in cases of stalking – but he changed his last name to that of one of Ms Morgan’s boyfriends – which is very easy to do if you’re English; you can just do it, even if you want to change your full name to “DK” – and then encountered another woman, Lorraine Nicholson, who had heard of this stalker under his old name but was not aware of this stalker’s new name.
When Ms Nicholson found out who he was, he tried to kill her. It sounded like an act of despair. She has since been forced to live with a permanent reminder of the attack, but at least it’s stopped his angry rampage forever.
But why did he do what he did?
How do we solve the devastating problem of long-term stranger-stalking?
I haven’t been able to find out whether a psychiatric diagnosis was ever made in the case of Tracey Morgan’s stalker.
I suspect that such stalkers see the world differently and have communications habits that they see as natural and normal but that tend to upset and worry others. They get rebuffed and otherized and they end up getting angry as well as desperate.
I’ve not only been arguing for a while now that there should be separate organizations (globally, not just in England) that deal with all cases of stalking and harassment, but also that brain scans should become a regular feature of health assessments (and should be taken along with fingerprints, too). Because only then, for example, people with brain abnormalities that stop them from having emotional empathy can receive the support that they need. It could also help identify which people can be successfully rehabilitated (treated, supported).
Neurofeedback is a cheap but often effective approach that was pushed into the shadows by big pharma. It could help stalkers modulate their destructive behaviors. Has anyone ever looked into this? I doubt it. It might have worked wonders for this guy who stalked Tracey Morgan, but we’ll never know. (Bessel van der Kolk may be a good source for feedback on that.)
It sounded like this particular stalker had succumbed to desperate feelings of misery and loneliness and somehow blamed Ms Morgan and Ms Nicholson for how he felt. The anger and resentment these stalkers feel, it seems to be utterly overwhelming for them and drive them to despair.
As I mentioned, I haven’t been able to find out anything about the state of this guy’s mental health, the workings of his brain (structure) or his history, but this dude struck me as a very sad and very angry character, not so much as a cunning manipulator.
He was still fairly young (later 30s) at the time, however. The older such men get, the more stalking experience they gain, and the angrier and more calculating they become. Neural pathways become reinforced. Stalking becomes their occupation.
Cognitive deficits often play a role and that means that society and the health professions are also to blame for not supporting some people enough so that they can function well in society.
There are similarities between the stalking of Laurisa Anello and the stalking of Tracey Morgan (initially Mrs Sant). A film was made about the former. Both cases led to new legislation.
The parents of Laurisa Anello have said that the film accurately represents their experiences. You can see several times how Laurisa Anello’s stalker (called Curtis in the film; his real name does not matter) simply doesn’t GET things. You can also see him get very frustrated at one point when Mrs Anello asks loudly and angrily “Do you hear me?” and he retorts “I hear! I hear!”
Of her stalker, Tracey Morgan has said that one excuse he used for a silent phone call included the following:
“I believe that I spoke to the Plaintiff’s mother on 4th June 1995 at work and at home. In fact my recollection is that Mrs Morgan did most of the speaking and she told me amongst other thing to ‘drop dead’. I telephoned again the following day, June 5th 1995 and on that occasion the Plaintiff answered the telephone. I remained silent on this one occasion because I had been expecting Mrs Morgan not the Plaintiff and was taken aback.”
She added “Had this not been so distressing, some of his excuses are laughable.”
He openly admits that he is stalking her, that he was making calls to her mother. He doesn’t get it, focuses purely on the truthfulness of the facts.
My stalker stood under my window one night yelling that he was true. What on earth was he going on about?
These stalkers cause the same kind of anger and frustration in their victims as they have experienced their entire lives. There is a major communication disconnect. They always get it wrong.
I see this with my own stalker too. He uses The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry as a guideline for how to communicate with people and also for how to treat women he cares about. He places them under a glass cover, so to speak, cuts them off from the world, controls everything in their lives. He plays with words such as provider. Having an account with a provider. What is a good provider? What is he supposed to provide? Bandwidth? Is he supposed to tell her what to do all the time, as if she is a little girl and he is her dad? He has no idea.
There is also entitlement, however. A feeling of ownership. As if you are his rabbit or his fluffy toy.
How on earth do you get through to someone like that without making him angry? There is so much anger and resentment in him.
And even if you can get through to the person, what do you do next? There is zero support for you from the rest of the world. Me, I am in a country where I don’t even know anyone, in a small, highly insular town.
What people often fail to understand is that stalking frequently takes up more time than a full-time job. This is another reason why stalking targets can sound crazy when they talk about what is being done to them.
Also, this particular man operated before the internet and mobile phone use took off. Nowadays, there are so many ways to target victims and remain completely undetected. The average police officer has zero IT knowledge (but most police officers think that they are experts on the matter, as well as on the matter of mental health, and they are usually too quick to “assess” any woman who reports stalking as mentally unstable, a liar, an attention-seeking female, or simply getting old and no longer able to keep up, so that they can dismiss her report).
Some stalkers hire and trick others – flying monkeys – to harass their targets, abuse and obstruct them, orchestrating the destruction of their targets, but staying on the sidelines themselves, thus escaping scrutiny. The victim usually gets discredited as when she dares report what is going on.
Even the police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland themselves have admitted that stalking victims are failed as a rule. (See references at bottom of this page.)
In today’s world, with the majority of people worldwide still believing that women aren’t fully fledged human beings, that is no surprise as most stalkers are men and most stalking targets are women.
So something needs to change.
That police forces may have stalking clinics now is of no use if reports of stalking are habitually dismissed.
According to forensic psychologist Kerry Daynes (whose books I recommend), on Twitter in July 2022, a new approach is being tested. Is it? Really? Keep reading. (She was stalked, too, by the way, but she seems to have overlooked that most stalking targets are not in her kind of position and get habitually dismissed.)
Info on IASUs: https://justiceinnovation.org/project/anti-stalking-unit
The development of IASUs began BEFORE the police concluded that stalking victims were being failed as rule, however. It raises questions. More here: https://justiceinnovation.org/project/harm-reduction-unit
This is about for example this Hampshire-based anti-stalking clinic that I have already mentioned a few times in recent years. Such a clinic is fairly useless if stalking targets continue to be dismissed when they report stalking.
These long-term stranger-stalkers have a problem that they require help with and nobody seems to be giving them the professional, nonjudgmental support that they need.
This problem may start at a young age with an inability to communicate in such a way that others understand the person’s harmless intentions. What eventually follows is anger over what they see as rejection and an inability to see the deleterious effect that their actions can have on someone else. There will be feelings of loneliness and despair about being misunderstood. But they are far from stupid. They learn from their experiences and they will also learn to use their actions to punish their targets if they want to, as an outlet for their anger and frustration.
Women are usually made to deal with stranger-stalking and its consequences all by themselves.
If these women are fortunate, they were in some kind of high-status position when the stalking started because then they are more likely to be believed and supported.
If not, they are usually met with at least doubt and often with scorn and ridicule. Contempt.
STOP for a second. Think about this. Do you feel what it must be like for these women?
If you can feel that, then you can also begin to imagine what the situation may be like for stalkers who would like to stop what they do and learn to communicate better, for example.
Maybe you can now even begin to grasp why some men stalk women who they don’t know or barely know, what they are so angry about, why they feel so rejected by society in general and by women in particular.
Even my very capable and bossy middle sister once confessed to me that she felt so deprived of love and appreciation during a certain time in her life that any man who gave her some kindness and attention almost made her want to drop to her knees and beg “please, please, please”. My sister is not autistic or learning-disabled – she’s very intelligent – and she always was a stickler for etiquette. So my sister never acted on such urges. Also, she said this around four decades ago, long before she got married.
But what if your brain ticks a little differently, but you manage to function well enough in society so that nobody realizes that your brain ticks a little differently and there is no one to mediate for you? At work, you can hide behind a mask of learned habits but the rest of your life is a desert.
When I was 16 or 17, a young man approached me on a ferry in Greece, grabbed my hand and kissed it. I don’t know what drove him to do that but – though there was a split second of hesitation on my side – it was clear to me that he meant no harm. Someone was with him, in the background. What happens if the same person does this as a grown man in his early or mid twenties, with the same mindset, but looking like a normal grown man?
When I was 33 and living in Florida, I was “pursued” (too strong a word in this particular case) by a janitor for a while. I realized that things were getting out of control when he started leaving gifts for me on my bicycle, which I used to commute and parked at the university. He had a kind colleague who exchanged a meaningful silent glance with me and gently steered him away. There was nothing “wrong” with the janitor as far as I could tell; he had a childlike enthusiasm, but wasn’t very intelligent and therefore missed the ability to detect certain nuances. And thanks to Florida’s high humidity, I looked like I was not even 20 yet, which surely didn’t help. What would have happened if that colleague had not been there?
When I was 15, one of the boys in my high-school class very sneakily managed to leave a sticker in my French book, saying “my sweetheart”, in German, adorned with pink hearts. Behavior like that was of course cool (=”okay”) among teenagers back then, but it is not something that adults are supposed to do.
Neurotypicals somehow learn this along the way, but neuro-a-typicals don’t always. There is no good explanation for why teenagers can do this kind of stuff but adults cannot (unless they are already in a relationship). There is no logic in this.
There is no support for the targets of stalking behaviors that come from strangers. They are left to wrestle with this stranglehold on their lives on their own. They have to figure out entirely on their own who and what they are dealing with. When they ask for support, they are often dismissed as having an anxiety problem. Put differently: “It’s all in your head, ma’m.”
This means that there is even less – less than zero – support for people who engage in these kinds of behaviors, have learned that they are problematic and would like to learn to modify them.
Because stalking makes no sense, not from the side of stalkers either. It is a very costly behavior. For the perpetrators, it’s very much high-risk and immensely time-consuming.
It is still not well understood, but often sensationalized.
People with Asperger’s can sometimes become what the rest of us consider “obsessed” with another person and study that person and even experiment with the person as if it concerns a guinea pig in a cage.
“What will the guinea pig do if I stop giving it food? Eat through the walls of its cage? What compromises will the person make? Will the person’s character change?” They don’t mean harm, but want to learn everything about the guinea pig, including whether the guinea pig is a good or a bad person.
IBCCES, that’s the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards. There are people who mediate in courts, who serve as advocates for autistic people. IBCCES can provide training (and a certificate) to that end.
This is a former police officer’s website.
People with Asperger’s do not necessarily want to be rigid and controlling, but they can have trouble with what we call “boundaries” in the west. They can infringe upon other people’s “territories” and do various other things without realizing how intensely that may affect that other person.
Similarly, they may not see other people as individuals in their own right. I suspect that their egos can be so fluid that they sometimes perceive other people as not really separate from themselves. They “feel” other people’s presence rather than see them as beings with physical boundaries and they often don’t attach much significance to what a person looks like. (This may also be why autistic people, if they engage in stalking behaviors, take photos. They may not recognize a person if that person changes her appearance, so I understand.)
They certainly see other people differently than neurotypicals do and while they may not really “like” other people, they do like having a certain presence around, like having the presence of another soul in their vicinity. They like a certain feeling rather than a certain person, maybe.
All of these things can create tension and clashes very early on and may eventually build up into a lot of resentment (feel slighted when they get rebuffed because they don’t understand what on earth they are supposed to have done wrong). That’s the impression or feeling I have come away with while thinking about this.
Other people may target strangers or people who, they feel, have rejected them, whether or not this has any ties to reality as seen by the world at large, including the target.
Yet others are so attracted to another person’s kindness that they feel that they cannot live without that person and do not understand why their attention makes the object of their fascination and gratitude feel hampered and perhaps even scared. They are like birds and other wildlife who keep visiting a lush garden or the person who rehabilitated them after they fell ill or were injured.
I believe that harassment and stalking behaviors coming from strangers, perhaps specifically so-called sadistic stalking – also called resentful stalking – are along the same spectrum that also includes cases of abduction (kidnapping) and illegal imprisonment, such as of Natascha Kampusch (kidnapped at 10 years old and held for eight years, who escaped) and perhaps also that of Jaycee Dugard (abducted at the age of 11 and held for eighteen years, who was found and identified).
When called stalkers, many people who engage in stranger-stalking tend to feel offended.
However, stalking is simply the term for a persistent obsession and often also interference with people who are chosen rather randomly and in whose lives these “stalkers” do not feature otherwise. They usually don’t come over for tea and they don’t meet at Starbucks, but they may have met at a joint meal with a group of friends and strangers or perhaps have had coffee together once, within a very neutral context.
We – the others – have no way of knowing what the intentions of “stalkers” are and that uncertainty alone can create a great deal of anxiety and even fear.
Some stalkers deliberately try to upset and scare the people their targets, or even brainwash them by isolating them and controlling every aspect of their lives. This frequently happens in so-called sadistic or resentful stalking, but also in cases of abusive relationships or of kidnapping of for example a young person and then keeping the person for years, which I see as an extension of stalking behaviors.
There are just as many stalkers who have no idea that they’re causing an immense amount of distress.
The behavior of some of these stalkers strikes me as that of a very small child that wants something and is oblivious to anything else.
Below is a rather complete typology of stalking behaviors. Not all forensic psychologists include the category “sadistic stalking”, but some do mention “resentful stalking”, which boils down to the same.
It sometimes happens that communities in which people who believe that this is hilarious simulate that someone has a sadistic stalker. The effects of that on the victim are the same. So-called gang stalking is a relatively new phenomenon made possible by the advent of smartphones and the internet age in general (not to mention CCTV networks).
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BBC News (2017) Shana Grice murder: Stalker ex-boyfriend jailed for life. BBC News.
BBC News. (2018) Molly McLaren trial: Joshua Stimpson jailed for murder.
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Ditum, S. (2018) A joint report by the Inspectorate of Constabulary and the CPS released last July looked at 112 cases of stalking and found that not one of them had been dealt with properly. The Independent.
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Miller, R. W. (2018) A 19-year-old stalking victim was fined for ‘wasting police time’ — and then she was killed
Morris, S. (2017) Police failed to protect Bijan Ebrahimi prior to his murder, IPCC says. The Guardian.
Morris, S. (2018) Council officials face investigation over Bijan Ebrahimi case. The Guardian.
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Roberts, R. (2017) Ex-boyfriend who murdered Shana Grice ‘stalked 13 other young women and girls but police took no action’. The Independent.
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Sheridan, L, Davies, G.M. and Boon, J. (2001) The Course and Nature of Stalking: A Victim Perspective. The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice
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