Online Stalking

Steven Burky was accused of stalking Jennifer Garner, pictured at right with her husband, Ben Affleck. Photo courtesy of The Sydney Morning Herald,

Stalking is nothing new. There have always been people who become obsessed with others, and those obsessions often become unhealthy and lead to stalking. In days past, stalkers would literally have to go out and drive around or walk around to follow their victims, but now with modern technology and the internet, stalkers have a number of new tools at their disposal and they can find their victims without having to leave home. For this reason, it is vitally important that you exercise caution when you’re online and make sure you don’t give a stalker an open invitation.

According to, there are 5 main types of stalkers, and each can be dangerous. The first type is called the Intimacy seeker. These stalkers are the type that imagines elaborate fantasies of a relationship with someone, usually a person they know they don’t have a real chance with. They give in to these fantasies and begin to track their victim through social media and other means. The second type is referred to as the Incompetent Suitor. These stalkers are typically unattached males who are socially inept, and they tend to seek sexual relationships. They fix their sights on a particular woman and feel driven to constantly contact her and try everything they can to achieve the relationship they seek. The third type are those that have been Rejected. These stalkers are born from the end of a relationship. They start out wanting to reconicile the relationship, but then they start resenting the fact that the relationship ended in the first place. They often fluctuate between the two, and the stalking develops as a means of maintaining contact and acts as a substitute for the relationship.

The remaining two types are arguably the worst. The Resentful stalker is one who desires control, usually because he’s been passed over for promotion, discriminated against, or has felt a lack of control for some other reason. The need to attain control or perhaps the need for retribution triggers the desire to begin stalking. Once started, the feeling of having control is what spurs them on to continue. Finally, there are Predatory stalkers. These stalkers are purely sadistic. They feel a thrill when planning and carrying out the stalking of their victims. These stalkers don’t simply settle for stalking alone. Their ultimate goal is to sexually assault their victims. Rapists and pedophiles are two examples of predatory stalkers.

According to, There are some tactics that all stalkers share, and you need to be aware of them, and there are a number of warning signs that can help you to know when someone might be a potential stalker. Knowing the warning signs and tactics that stalkers employ will give you the knowledge you need to help prevent yourself from becoming a victim. Have a look below for details and for some other resources that will help you to break free of a stalker or give you the ability to help someone you know who is in a similar situation.

Common Tactics for Stalkers

  • Monitoring you and friends– using social media to look at what you post, your photos, where you go, who you go with etc.
  • Spyware – installing spy software on your phone or computer
  • Sending text messages – sending hurtful or threatening messages to you repeatedly
  • Account takeovers/hacking – accessing your online accounts using hacker techniques
  • Denigration – sending, posting, or publishing cruel rumors and untrue statements about you to damage your reputation
  • Distribute photos or videos – distributing photos or videos in order to embarrass you
  • Exclusion – contacting or inviting everyone but you
  • Flaming – posting an abusive response so everyone can see it
  • Outing – telling people something embarrassing about you
  • Threats and Dissemination – they threaten you and then tell others about it
  • Confidence tricks– getting you to reveal information about yourself and then using against you
  • Impersonation – pretending to be you either online in chat rooms or message boards, via email, etc.
  • Spaming– signing you up for junk email
  • Trolling – saying something online to provoke you into responding
  • Bullying by proxy – getting others to join them in bullying you

Warning Signs: When Your Partner Starts Stalking You

  • They become demanding/controlling,and they want to know who you are texting, e-mailing, and what you are saying to them.  They are suspicious, perhaps even paranoid.
  • They are contacting you multiple times a day asking you to confirm where you are. If you are at an unusual place and they seem to know it,  they might have put some gps location software on your phone.
  • They start sending aggressive, abusive or threatening texts.
  • They start to contact your friends and family trying to check up on you, get information about you, or trying to damage those relationships.
  • They start to spread rumors, put abusive, embarrassing comments online via social networks, forums etc.
  • They seem to know information that you haven’t told them, or they know what you do online such as which websites you’ve gone to, people you’ve chatted with or e-mails you’ve sent, etc.  They could possibly have installed spyware on your computer.
  • Your passwords stop working or keep changing.
  • You find e-mails marked read that you haven’t read, or e-mails sent from your account that you know you haven’t sent.
  • Money starts going missing from your online bank account, or you notice goods being bought via online stores you use.
  • Information is deleted such as friend’s contacts, computer files, e-mails.

Warning Signs: When a Stranger or Acquaintance Starts Stalking You

  • They start contacting you multiple times a day.
  • They are anxious to move from a dating site to private e-mails, texting, or telephone calls.
  • They keep asking for personal information such as where you work, where you went to school, etc.
  • They agree with everything you say as if they think you’re “soul mates”.
  • They start talking about how much they like you only after a few chats.
  • They seem to be too interested too soon.
  • If you block them, they try to contact you using another different account.
  • They keep changing their story or maybe it just doesn’t all add up. If you aren’t sure what to think, a good test would be to tell a friend what he/she told you and get their response. Your friends should have a more objective view of the situation.
  • They become demanding/controlling, wanting to know who your friends are, why you haven’t been online at certain times, etc.
  • They know things about you that you didn’t tell them.
  • They seem to know when and where you are online. They say things like “I know you were online because I saw your posts” or they always showing up in the same chat rooms that you’re in.
  • They start adding your friends and family to their list, even though they don’t know them.
  • They talk about you a lot in forums and online. Sometimes they will make up stories about you or describe going on imaginary dates with you.


National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7
1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) 24/7
To be connected to the rape crisis center nearest to you, dial
1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline 24/7
1-866-331-8453 (TTY)
You can also chat live on-line with a trained Peer Advocate from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. (CST) daily.

National Resources

State Resources

Tribal Resources

Online Resources

Other Resources


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