Upstate News

March 27, 2008
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

SUNY Upstate forensic psychiatrist offers safety strategies for victims of stalking

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The chances of a woman being stalked are an estimated 1 in 14; for men, it is 1 in 50. The five types of stalkers and safety strategies for victims and for legal and clinical professionals who treat the stalker and the stalked are included in a book co-authored by SUNY Upstate Medical University forensic psychiatrist James Knoll, M.D.

Knoll, one of the nation’s leading experts on stalking intervention, joined 16 of the world’s most prominent forensic psychiatrists in coauthoring the book, Stalking: Psychiatric Perspectives and Practical Approaches, recently published by Oxford Press.

Knoll’s contribution to the book discusses the five stalker types and which of these types is capable of violence; strategies to help victims protect themselves; and legal and safety issues that victims and the professional community must consider before taking actions that might endanger stalking victims.

“The book offers safety strategies for victims,” said Knoll, “For example, we advise them to build a safety network and to vary daily routines. In addition, victims should not develop a false sense of security if an order of protection is obtained. It is also important for them to take personal responsibility by becoming familiar with local stalking laws, resources, and law enforcement policies,” he added.

In the book, Knoll discuses the five stalker types and which are more prone to violent acts:

? Rejected stalkers are the most common and dangerous type of stalker who pursues the victim, often a former intimate partner, after a relationship ends. These stalkers likely have a history of criminal assault.

? Intimacy-seeking stalkers want an intimate relationship with a victim they believe is their “true love.” They are typically unperturbed by legal sanctions and often require court-mandated psychiatric treatment.

? Incompetent stalkers know the victim is disinterested but forge ahead in hopes that their behavior will lead to a relationship. Despite needing legal sanctions and possible mental health treatment and social skills training, they are likely to continue their pattern of stalking with other victims.

? Resentful stalkers intend to frighten and distress the victim. Legal sanctions may inflame this type of stalker.

? Predatory stalkers prepare for a sexual assault and must be secured in a correctional or forensic setting to address their propensity for violence.

“We also offer scientifically and clinically proven strategies that the professional community can use in treating both the stalked and the stalker,” he said. For example, managing stalking victims’ risk is best accomplished through a multidisciplinary team effort, such as teaching victims appropriate safety strategies and offering comprehensive treatment to those who develop anxiety and depressive disorders, Knoll said.

Stalking: Psychiatric Perspectives and Practical Approaches covers several areas of stalking, including juvenile stalkers, presidential stalkers, adolescent obsessional followers, cyberstalkers and celebrity stalkers.

In addition to stalking, Knoll has testified and presented nationally on such topics as serial murder, filicide and murder suicide, correctional suicide risk assessment and the insanity defense. He has served as a consultant to the Capital Defenders Office in Death Penalty Cases and is a consulting forensic examiner for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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