What to do if you're being stalked: Advice from an expert

A stalking expert and police psychologist explains the four common categories of stalkers and gives guidance on some practical steps for those who think they may be being stalked

“48 Hours” and correspondent Erin Moriarty investigate the horrors of stalking and how CBS’ “NCIS” star Pauley Perrette is fighting to change the laws to protect victims in a special two-hour broadcast, “Stalked.”


Clinical Police and Forensic Psychologist Kris Mohandie offers advice for victims of stalking:

IGNORING A STALKER CAN BE DANGEROUS

Mohandie says a common reaction to stalking behaviors can be for the victim to ignore the stalker’s menacing behavior and hope they go away. Unfortunately, he says, this doesn’t work with stalkers who are already violating the boundaries of normal behavior and making their targets feel unsafe. While Mohandie cautions that you should NOT engage with your stalker directly, he recommends the following:

  • be alert and proactive to protect yourself from the possible threat.
  • avoid all contact
  • enhance security measures in their lives, such as locks, alarms and security cameras, and says victims should
  • inform key people in their life of the potential threat. 
  • save and document all messages, voicemails, letters, and cards. 
  • photograph and document things that are damaged and quickly get that information to law enforcement so that police can begin to intervene in the process. 

Early intervention is key, he says. Mohandie reminds viewers that stalking is a crime and should be treated that way. As always, if you require emergency assistance, call 911 immediately.

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THE FOUR KINDS OF STALKERS

Psychologist Kris Mohandie has been consulting on stalking and threat cases for over 25 years. He says he defines a stalker as someone who is obsessed with the victim and involved in an unwanted pursuit.

Mohandie says there are basically four kinds of stalkers:

  • There’s the public figure stalker, who has not had any prior relationship with their victim.
  • There’s the private stranger stalker who crosses paths with a victim in some way and then that person becomes a target.
  • There’s the acquaintance stalker, who pursues maybe a co-worker or classmate or someone else in their life—that group of stalkers, the acquaintance group—has about a 50 percent risk of violence. Even for stalkers who are in the groups with a lower risk of violence, Mohandie says you have to understand the risks.

“Now, don’t let that deceive you, because you don’t know which per cent, you know, you’re gonna be dealing with in a particular case,” he told “48 Hours.” “You still have to look at the particulars of a case to determine if it’s gonna be a dangerous stalker or not.”

The most common type of stalker is also the most dangerous

The fourth category of stalker Mohandie describes as intimate stalkers, and he says these are the most common and the most dangerous. He says the risk of violence from an intimate stalker is about 74 percent. Violence could be anything from pushing and shoving to a more violent assault. He notes that many domestic violence homicides have a stalking component. Victims of domestic violence can find more information here.