Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Fleeing Stalking and Violence

Update (August 13, 2017): The immigration judge granted the young woman asylum last Monday! She was released to family in the area, and is currently figuring out next steps.


I'm writing a forensic psychological report for an asylum seeker. She is fleeing a violent stalker in her country of origin. I am doing research and here are some of my notes...
  • Stalking seems to have common roots in a mixture of psychological processes that include frustration, aggression and the desire to control the target. 
  • Stalking refers to wilful, malicious and repeated following or harassing another person. Stalkers often persecute their victims by unwanted communication (phone calls, texts), camp outside the victim’s home or workplace, spread rumors about the victim. 
  • In many cases innocent parties and the target’s circle of friends and associated become victims of the stalker’s behavior. 
  • The various forms of harassment are done to gain control over the victim. 
  • Wright et al (1996) found that many stalkers were seeking possession of the victim, angry and retaliating against the victim, whom he perceived as rejecting him.
Canter, D.V. and Ioannou, M. (2004) A multivariate model of stalking behaviours. Behavormetrika, 31(2), 113-130. 
  • Similar to domestic violence relationships, power and control play a role in stalking situations. 
  • Psychological control and social control are the most common forms reported by victims. 
  • Physical assault during the stalking and financially controlling behaviors are also reported (Brewster, 2003). 
  • An objective observer might not understand the rationale for stalking once the perpetrator is clear that reconciliation has been ruled out as a possibility. In trying to make sense of stalking behavior, it is clear that the desire to control the former partner is a great, if not the most important, motivating factor. 
Brewster, M.P. (2003). Journal of Family Violence, 18(4), 207-217. 
  • Domestic violence research suggests that stalking may play a role in the “cycle of violence.” 
  • The cycle of violence is a three-stage process used to explain spouse battering. The first stage is called the tension-building phase, in which unresolved conflict and unexpressed anger collect and there is a sense of “walking on eggshells.” The tension continues to build to the second stage, called the explosion phase. During this stage, the actual abuse incident occurs, which may involve emotional, verbal, and/or physical abuse. This stage is followed by a honeymoon period. The abuser seeks forgiveness in a contrite manner, almost as if courting his partner, and promises never to let the abuse occur again. The cycle begins again as tension rebuilds. 
  • When the woman leaves an abusive relationship to stop the cycle, she is the most vulnerable to extreme acts of violence. When the male realizes that his usual methods of control are no longer effective, he is likely to resort to more extreme acts of violence. It is at this point that the woman is also at risk of being the focus of repeated, unwanted attention and harassment as he tries to “win her back.” The attention may take many forms and become progressively more violent when these efforts are not successful in reunifying the relationship. 
Coleman, F.L. (1997). Stalking behavior and the cycle of domestic violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 12(3), 420-432.


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