Stalking will affect one in five women, says expert

Stalking expert Lorraine Sheridan says that ex-partner harassment is the most common type of stalking behaviour. Picture: Bruce Hunt www.communitypix.com.au d399179
Stalking expert Lorraine Sheridan says that ex-partner harassment is the most common type of stalking behaviour. Picture: Bruce Hunt www.communitypix.com.au d399179

The Curtin University researcher has dedicated her life to understanding the physical and mental behaviours of those who have become infatuated by another’s presence.

After completing a PhD in Stalking and Psychology in the UK, Ms Sheridan went on to work with police detectives and celebrities around the world.

As a psychological profiler, Ms Sheridan says she is able to identify a stalker before the victim can, which has led her to work on more than 5000 stalking cases worldwide.

Although she says a stalker can sometimes be hard to identify, the past two decades have allowed her to become accustomed to the traits associated with these offenders.

Ms Sheridan spoke with the Canning Times about the four types of stalkers she had identified through her research ” ex-partner harassment/stalking (50 per cent), infatuation harassment (18.5 per cent), delusional fixation stalking (15.3 per cent) and sadistic stalking (12.9 per cent)

‘Stalking is hard to define as it often comprises behaviours that, when taken on their own, appear routine and harmless, like telephoning someone or walking past their house,’ Ms Sheridan said.

‘We tend to label something as ‘stalking’ when it is unwanted and repeated but there are many risk assessment tools that can help us identify potentially dangerous cases but the best predictor is the level of fear that the victim feels.

‘I worked on a case where the stalker had harassed his victim for 43 years.

‘Unfortunately she died and at her funeral, which the stalker attended, I could see he had switched his attentions to her daughter.’

Stalking is an offence in Western Australia.

A person who is found guilty faces up to eight years in jail and/or a hefty fine.

Over the past three years, Ms Sheridan has co-written three books relating to stalking and psychosexual obsession.

Fact Box

Ex partner
Linked to relationship bitterness
Verbal threats, property damage
Custody/property/finance issues
Infatuation
Typically teenage or mid-life 
Focus on romantic fantasy
Intense yearning
Delusional fixation
Victim at high risk of physical/sexual assault
Bombarding with calls/letters/visits
Sadistic
Offender obsessively targets victim 
Broadens targets to family/friends to isolate/control victim