Lurking in the shadows

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Aug 232004
 
Authors: Amy Hochevar

Laurie King knew something was strange.

While unloading some boxes into her home near campus she noticed a man lurking in the bushes. Initially she brushed it off, but as night fell her fears became reality.

The man never left.

Finally, she yelled out, “I can see you,” hoping he would leave. He still did not move. Instead, he dropped on his knees and started crawling around her house, prowling like an animal.

“I was intimidated and terrified,” said King, 35, a Fort Collins resident. “Then I was really angry.”

King was a victim of a delusional stalker, a situation that can be common.

There were 12 stalker cases reported on campus between August and May last year, said Joan Williams, records manager for the CSU Police Department.

About 8 percent of all American women and 2 percent of all American men are stalked each year, a figure that results in about 1 million women and 400,000 men becoming stalking victims each year, according to Dr. Doreen Orion’s book “I Know You Really Love Me.”

Just as King did not know her stalker, many stalkers randomly choose their victims or are only acquainted with them. Still, a majority of stalkers have been in relationships with their victims, wrote Orion, a psychiatrist.

Still, anyone can be stalker.

Stalkers are categorized into three different groups: delusional, intimate and vengeful. Delusional and intimate stalkers are most common and become obsessed with their victims, while vengeful stalkers become angry easily and tend to be a coworker or a boss.

Delusional stalkers such the man near King’s home are people who have had little, if any, contact with their victims. They may have a mental illness or believe their victims love them and that they are destined to be together.

In contrast, intimate stalkers have been in a previous relationship with the victim and refuse to believe the relationship ended. The victims sometimes feel sorry for them, and many of the situations last for months or years.

Orion wrote the best way to communicate with a stalker is to simply tell him or her “no” and have no further communication.

However, another effective step is to call the police and request a restraining order.

“If you think there is a problem, get immediate help,” said Lt. Karl Swenson of CSUPD.

Swenson handles cases involving victims who are being harassed on campus. He said most of the time when the perpetrator is asked to stop it does not work and the case usually results in criminal charges.

For King, calling the police not only helped the immediate situation, but also resulted in a background check revealing that her stalker had five arrest warrants, including one for burglary.

“When I was on the phone with the police I felt like I was in control,” King said.

King believes she was lucky but hates to think about what could have happened if she had not had her phone later that night.

“It was all just really strange.”

GRAPHIC:

If you find yourself in this type of situation there are certain steps you can follow:

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