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Roses or Red Flags? Forensic Psychologist Decodes Stalker Patterns

It might be easy to dismiss a stalker’s behaviour as ordinary, like too many text messages or flowers at your door, but forensic psychologists say it’s important to know where to draw the line.

In Victoria alone there were about 2,500 police reports of stalking per year between 2011 and 2020.

Forensic psychologist Troy McEwan is an expert in behavioural science and spoke on the Crime Insiders podcast about what stalking really looks like.

Forensic psychologist Troy McEwan spoke on the Crime Insiders podcast:

“I think there’s a misunderstanding that stalking isn’t very common and it’s not very serious. And occasionally bad things happen […] and it’s just an inaccurate understanding,” McEwan said.

McEwan said people often don’t realise they are being stalked, because the behaviour can be excused as normal.

“Making telephone calls is not inherently problematic. Sending text messages is not inherently problematic. Leaving flowers is not inherently problematic. The problem of stalking is the cumulativeness and the unwantedness of the behaviour,” she said.

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Is Martha from Baby Reindeer an ‘intimacy-seeking stalker’? Forensic psychologists say she is. There are five types of stalkers, each distinguished by their motivations and methods. Behavioural science expert Troy McEwan outlines them on the latest episode of Crime Insiders.

♬ original sound – LiSTNR Crime Team

Host of the Crime Insiders: Forensics podcast Kathryn Fox asked McEwan about reporting a stalker.

“People say, you’re overreacting, you’re overemotional, you’re overly sensitive, you’re feeling guilty. You didn’t end things properly,” Kathryn Fox said, “If your friends and family don’t take you seriously, how do you get the police to?”

McEwan said that when reporting a stalker, it’s important to call it what it is. 

 “It’s really important to use the word stalking. If you’ve experienced this repeated pattern of intrusions into your life and it’s making you scared. Chances are it’s stalking,” McEwan said.

If you or someone you know is being stalked, you can call 1800RESPECT or visit https://www.1800respect.org.au/violence-and-abuse/stalking.

If you haven’t yet, listen to Troy McEwan Part 1 on the five types of stalkers:

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