The serious stalkers’ handbook

What do Lauren McCluskey, Shana Grice, Bijan Ebrahimi, Molly McLaren and Katerina Makunova have in common? Two things. They’re all dead. And police failed each of them.

Police “fucked” Bijan and Shana “in the arse” big time. Shana was fined for having wasted police time when she reported her concerns. Bijan was viciously targeted by police because he was not British. Police did not even know that Katerina had contacted them five times when she was found dead and apparently still maintain that she “fell on a knife”. Unwittingly, a police officer egged on Molly’s killer who then hinted that he was going to kill her, but apparently the police officer missed the hint. Police did not have the expertise at hand to analyse the IT evidence in Lauren’s case.

Conventional advice is to collect all evidence, keep records and go to police when you are being seriously stalked and harassed.

This advice likely comes from people who have no experience with the reality of such situations.

Collecting all evidence and keeping records mainly serves to emphasize how powerless you are. It can gobble up a lot of your time and attention, but what will police do with it? Nothing, usually. Police select what they accept — if they accept anything — and prefer things that can be scanned into computer systems (where they can be accessed and deleted by hackers and flying monkeys as well as by stalkers who work at the police).

Stalkers sometimes even hand police evidence of what they have been doing, fully aware that police officers are highly likely to overlook it.

If you are seriously concerned about being stalked and/or harassed, there is only one thing you can do. Disappear into thin air, one way or another.

Going to police is a waste of time and effort at best. In most cases, it will first enrage your stalker and then empower him when he sees that police do nothing or, worse, start targeting his target too.

Most police officers consider themselves “the” experts in all areas of life, including law, IT and psychiatry, but the reality is that their level of knowledge is usually literally the same as that of the industrious takeaway owner who does not even have a website or the meth addict who begs on the streets.

Attention for mental health — health issues related to brain functioning — lags behind on attention for purely physical health — health issues that do not affect brain functioning much. The killer of one of the five people who are now dead because police failed them had indicated that something was wrong with him and that he needed help. He got none.

Police have no business in mental health. Police have no business in cardiac surgeries and appendectomies either.

Police currently are forced to waste a lot of time on silly “he said she said” situations that contain no threat. Police have no idea how to assess the level of threat.

What we need is national specialized organizations — separate from police — that contain specialized psychologists, specialized psychiatrists, experienced investigators (who do not target victims because that is so much cheaper and so much easier to do than to investigate 21st-century stalking but actually do their job), and high-level IT professionals.

The case of Lauren McCluskey makes the need for the latter clear. (She’d received spoofed messages, but police were not able to do anything with them because they lacked the expertise.)

Also, police currently take anything printed as “proof”. It is easy to go to police and give them fabricated “printed evidence” that shows that any person is stalking and harassing you. You set up a yahoo account in the other person’s name, send yourself some threatening messages, print them and take them to police. Police officers take that at face value. It is usually the only kind of “evidence” they will accept.

You can do something similar with text messages.

If you know how to push the police’s buttons, this will soon get your “stalker’s” DNA and fingerprints into the police system. Then you stalk the person (the victim) on eBay and as soon as he or she offers something, you make sure you get it because you may then be able to use it as evidence that he or she has been in your home, for example. The victim will likely have no clue, and neither will police.

This is an example of a kind of behaviour people with certain structural brain disorders (certain personality disorders) might engage in to punish a victim for a perceived slight, such as the victim not having been interesting in sex during a chance meeting at a pub.

So what we may also need are changes in legislation that allow carrying out brain scans, as disorders like narcissistic personality disorder as well as psychopathy are usually discernible on brain scans. This has to come with an advantage for people with such conditions, such as lifelong weekly supportive counselling sessions or more advanced therapies once we have them.

People whose brains are structurally different usually cannot make such a difference disappear at will, though some may be able to control an empathy or compassion switch in the brain.

Changing the law to allow brain scans obviously requires a thorough ethics discussion first, but we should also keep in mind that we do not hesitate to offer treatment to people with more easily discernible physical conditions. Not providing support to people with brain-related conditions that affect personality could be seen as discrimination. And police are already taking DNA and fingerprints as standard procedure in many situations, also of people who may not have committed any crimes at all.

If you are seriously concerned about being stalked and/or harassed, there is currently only one thing you can do. Disappear into thin air, one way or another, and as soon as possible. Alternatively, you can wait for the stalker to lose his (or her) marbles and kill you so that police may eventually apprehend him (or her). We — as society — can do better.