Due to ESG's specialist services and experience, we have been selected to provide security and safety articles for the NZ Herald on a wide range of topics from personal and business safety through to counter terrorism
ESG specialise in counter stalking services and assist individuals to plan, manage and resolve stalker related issues.
1. The following link relates to a story written by ESG to assist you identify, manage and survive a stalking event. This story appeared in the online NZ Herald on the 4th of July 2017, please click the link below or enter the URL into your browser to go direct to the article:
2. ESG's Managing Director was interviewed for a TV3 programme on Ex Partner Stalking on the 8th of October, 2019. Click the link below to go direct to the programme or enter the URL into your browser to go direct to the programme:
If you think you are being stalked, in the first instance contact the police and a trusted family member or friend.
You should not automatically engage a private investigator, but if required, should seek professional advice from a stalking specialist who can assist you to formulate a cost effective SRP 'Stalker Resolution Plan', to move forward and manage your security. Not all private investigators are knowledgeable about stalking, and surveillance and investigation services can be expensive. This may be one aspect of the plan that is engaged, however it should not be rushed into, there other important agencies to be contacted and aspects addressed first to ensure your safety.
What is stalking?
Officially, stalking is defined as "the malicious and repeated following or harassing of another person". From a legal perspective, it is included in NZ law under "harassment" and "private nuisance", offences that sound much less traumatic than that of actual stalking. The base offence committed by a "stalker" will generally default to harassment and this is covered under Section 8 of the Harassment Act 1997 and is punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years.
The sad thing is that it is often the associated acts perpetrated by the offender that hold the greater penalties, acts that often include serious assaults, burglary, sexual offences and in extreme cases, homicide. Stalking can include persistent unwanted contact, following the victim, phone calls and gifts.
As with many aspects of our lives, technology is part of stalking and the increasing trend is that of cyber stalking. Cyber stalking is classed as "the repeated use of electronic communications to harass or frighten someone" and includes contact by way of emails, text messages and any of the numerous social media mediums.
I believe the reason cyber stalking is on the increase is technology encourages less personal interaction within society, so many people aren't learning the face-to-face skills that assist them to manage relationships, deal with feelings and resolve rejection and/or anger.
Why do people stalk?
There are many reasons why a person stalks another. Some of the more common reasons include:
• Infatuation with the intended victim;
• Honest belief a special relationship exists between them and the victim;
• To intimidate the victim;
• As a form of protest;
• Precursor to the commission of a crime;
• To either control or remain in control of the victim
• To achieve fame in an otherwise "meaningless" life (often linked to celebrity homicides)
• To advertise themselves to the victim, to make them stand out from a crowd in the hope the victim will build a relationship with them.
Who are stalkers?
So we now move to trying to understanding who stalkers are and what makes them such a potential threat. By having this understanding, we remove a part of that "unknown" element, enabling us to identify what we are dealing with and therefore how best to mitigate or manage the situation and our safety.
It is important to note anyone can be a stalker. Male, female, family, neighbour, work colleague, former partner, associate or stranger. The make-up of a stalker is not a simple black and white topic, it is the opposite, a totally grey area made up of a wide range of social, personal and mental health issues that all come together, to varying degrees.
Psychologists the world over have managed to condense the stalker psyche to between five and seven "types". Stalkers may be classified under one, or a combination of any of the below types.
The six main recognised types of stalker are:
The Rejected Suitor
This stalker is normally an ex-partner, lover, family member or friend who has been rejected at some level by the victim. "Domestic stalking", the main type experienced in New Zealand, falls into this category. About 80% of these stalkers have some form of personality disorder and their narcissistic tendencies create an honest belief this is a relationship "that is supposed to be", hence their persistence even if rejected.
Their approach to the victim will often swing between reconciliation and revenge, the latter when they feel the relationship is not progressing as they expect. This section of stalkers are, in the main, men who react badly to a relationship ending. They are often persistent and violent and will look for some way to punish the victim.
Court orders and the like will be seen only as a means to prevent them dominating the victim, resulting in enhancing the stalker's will to prevail. That said, court orders are necessary to provide the victim with some form of legal support primarily to assist future police action. Domestic related homicides and murder suicide scenarios often fall into this category.
The Intimacy Seeker
The intimacy-seeking stalker's aim is to establish a relationship with their "true love" regardless of the fact no relationship exists, or that the victim is simply not interested. In this case the stalker will create a relationship that to them, is "as real as it gets". They believe they have a special and unique relationship with their victim. Even when faced with the reality of their victim having a husband or partner, they will only see the individual as an imposter. Their grasp of reality can be limited.
Studies have determined that more than half of intimacy seekers are delusional, believing their love was reciprocated. Nearly a third had a personality disorder and a delusional belief their persistence would ultimately be successful. Intimacy seekers justify their behaviour with an honest belief that they must be together with the victim at almost any cost, so often legal action against them is ineffectual.
The Incompetent Suitor
While this type of stalker can be male or female, the incompetent suitor is more typically a man, one who has been rejected after asking a woman or partner for a date. They are often found to be socially inept, and once rejected, can commence stalking the victim in the hope their persistent behaviour will be seen in a positive light and convince the victim to begin a relationship.
They are individuals who want a date or relationship but do not have the required social skills. This type of stalker is becoming more prevalent with the increase in social media and online dating sites.
Not having the face to face social skills required to form natural relationships, they tend to gravitate towards social media and online dating to fill that void where any interaction is done remotely.
The Resentful Stalker
These individuals express anger in response to a perception that they have been humiliated or treated unfairly by the victim, the object of their obsession. As mentioned previously, stalkers may possess one of these stalking types, or they can have, or progress to, a combination of types. The resentful stalker may purely be an individual responding to an initial general act of humiliation or unfair treatment by the victim.
The second possibility is this resentful type of stalking may have commenced as one of the other four types detailed here, but as a result of the victim humiliating the stalker within their social network or on social media for his previous actions, the stalker's response would then start to include aspects of revenge.
In worst case scenarios, this progression can lead to crimes being committed against the victim aimed at 'punishing' the victim, crimes that can include damage to property, violence towards the victims' pets, assault, rape and homicide.
While this type of stalker thrives on having a sense of control and or power over the victim, often they will have a genuine belief that they are the victim in the whole affair. This in turn provides them with a perceived level of justification for their actions.
The Predatory Stalker
These stalkers are generally the smallest of the five groups but have a higher chance of being someone totally unknown. Past examples of this type of stalking have commenced by mere chance meetings between the stalker and the victim, such as sitting next to each other on a bus, meeting at a social event or even being seen walking in the street.
This type of stalker is generally intelligent, calculated and meticulous in their gathering of information about the victim. They can be personable and experienced in building trusting relationships.
They derive pleasure from this "planning phase" and will often fantasise about what they want to do to or with the victim. The actual offending will be conducted to their plan. Many will have prior convictions for sexual related offences.
Too often, this type of stalking ends in violence when the stalker realises the only way they will get what they want is by force.
This offender targets high profile personalities and individuals, who in the main include celebrities or politicians. There reasons for stalking can be wide-ranging and can commence with them either being a fan or supporter, or in complete opposition to the victim.
In the case of being a fan or supporter, circumstances could arise where they feel betrayed, belittled, rejected, humiliated or otherwise let down by actions or statements made by the victim, whether or not those actions or statements directly impact the stalker.
In the case of opposition, they may support a celebrity or politician who is in competition with the victim and see themselves as being the only one who take the necessary action to effectively "get rid of" the competition. This response can take the course of threats, intimidation, damage or, in extreme cases, violence.
The most extreme reason for celebrity stalking is to gain fame, or rather infamy. Generally committed by individuals of low self-esteem with limited or no lifetime achievements, this offender stalks their victim purely to make a name for themselves. Hollywood stars, musicians and politicians are often the preferred targets.
So, what is your chance of being stalked in New Zealand? And if you are, who will the offender be? These questions are hard to determine in New Zealand as, unlike other countries, there is no specific stalking data captured. Stalking has been blended into harassment and private nuisance legislation which covers a wide range of offences.
While data from the UK, US and Australia varies somewhat overall, their environments are similar to that of New Zealand so is being used to provide a general idea of what New Zealand may be experiencing. This information shows:
• You are more likely to be stalked by a former or current intimate partner;
• In descending order, the other groups from where a stalker can come include acquaintances, strangers, current or former colleagues and family;
• Women are more likely to be stalked than men, with the global average being around 1 in every 4-7 women stalked, and 1 in every 6-13 males;
• Both men and women stalk;
Anyone can be a stalker. Age, race, social status, criminal history, education, relationship to the victim have no impact on who can be a stalker;
• Stalkers often suffer from low self-esteem, psychological illness, drug dependency, sociopathic tendencies, depression and delusions;
• The cause of a stalker's actions are more likely to be linked to a mental health issue rather than purely criminal intent;
• Some act of physical violence is reported in approximately 44% of cases worldwide, with an estimated 15% of cases resulting in a homicide;
• The average length for a stalking episode is between six months and two years, with the longest lasting 43 years;
• Any continued unwanted or concerning contact lasting more than two weeks should be considered a serious issue;
• There is no one way to resolve a stalking situation;
• Cyber stalking is on the increase globally
Affects of stalking on a victim
The psychological affect of stalking on the victim is often the most traumatic impact on the victim.
In the cases of stranger stalking, for the victim it's not knowing who is stalking them, where they are, why they are stalking or the final aim that is the most traumatic.
It is estimated that one in eight victims who are the subject of stalking miss work because of the stalking, and one in seven victims will move residences. Victims of stalkers have also shown to have higher rates of anxiety, fear, paranoia, isolation, insomnia and depression as compared with the general population.
The sad by-product of stalking was many victims lose the support of those around them, with friends and family withdrawing from the victim because they felt the stalking was consuming the victim and they could not see an end to it. The affects can be lasting and can impact the victim long after the offending has stopped.
• Learn how to identify stalking behaviours and personalities
• Limit your pubic profile, particularly on social media
• Be proactive in maintaining your residential and personal security
• Alter daily or weekly routines
• Seek advice from the police or a stalking specialist if you have concerns
Basic steps to manage your safety if you think you are being stalked
• Advise the police of any suspected stalking as soon as you become aware of it;
• If the individual is known to you, let them know you are not interested and want them to stop. Do not do this in person. Phone, text or email them;
• Always be polite if interacting with them
• Keep a diary of all concerning activity, attempted contacts or advances;
• Retain any notes, gifts, emails or texts sent by the stalker;
• You should never put yourself in a position where you are alone with the stalker. If you need to meet them take a friend and have the meeting in a public place;
• Alter your daily or weekly routines
• Advise schools and day-cares of the issue as appropriate
• Remove or limit all social media profiles until the matter is resolved;
• Regularly change passwords on emails, social media and other mediums to prevent hacking;
• Do not refer to the stalking or stalker on social media in any derogatory way;
• Do not respond to unwanted advances or signs of affection;
• Do not accept any gifts
• Remove yourself from the general electoral roll;
• Lock your vehicle in a garage or ensure it is alarmed;
• Talk to someone you trust about your concerns, but don't tell everyone as this could get back to the stalker and force them to do something they may not normally have considered (violence). This is a particular concern if the stalker is part of your social circle;
• Screen all telephone communications by letting all calls go to voice mail;
• Consider changing your phone number
• Change your email address and or social media tags;
• Do not reply or communicate with the stalker once you have told them you are not interested. They will attempt to make you feel pity for them as a ruse to initiate contact or meet with you;
• Speak with your local district court or police regarding appropriate restraining orders
• Seek professional advice on counter stalking techniques. Exercise caution as the industry is full of self-professed experts.
• If you believe are in immediate danger, call 111.
The best way to prevent stalking is to be proactive. Be aware of your personal safety, adopt sound security and safety practises, seek professional advice if required (don't try to deal with it alone), and ensure you talk about your concerns with a family member, friend, the police and/or other professionals.
Remember humans are capable of anything. Don't become a statistic. Many stalkers have underlying psychological issues that you alone cannot resolve.
Security and Safety Tips
This section is designed to provide free advice and information on specific security, protection and safety concerns.
All of the information provided on this page is supported by ESG's professional training and client assistance programmes.
Should you have any further queries or wish to recieve a confidential, no obligation visit from one of our risk management specialists, please do not hesitate to contact us direct.
The Team at Executive Security
HOW TO SURVIVE A
Due to our extensive security and protection experience, ESG were invited to write and article in response to the recent UK terrorist attacks by the NZ Herald. The online article can be read by clicking the link below. Alternatively the narrative of the article is outlined below, with a copy of the newspaper article featured under 'News Flash 2' on our News page.
CLICK THE BELOW LINK TO GO DIRECT TO THE ONLINE ARTICLE:
On an almost daily basis, somewhere in the world, we are increasingly exposed to the violent acts of criminals, extremists and terrorists.
As we sit in our lounges contemplating our futures and the current global situation, we can all unfortunately be assured of one thing based on history and current global trends, and that is that the world will never be safer than it is today.
In many ways, the thing we hold dearest, democracy, may in fact be our greatest threat, allowing environments where extremists' views are tolerated to a degree.
Governments and security services the world over struggle to mitigate evolving threats, often playing catch-up regarding new terrorism techniques, perpetrators and cells.
As a former member of the Prime Minister's protection team we were well aware that to protect the Prime Minister and other dignitaries, we had to get it right every minute of every day. On the other hand, the bad guys only have to get it right once.
This is now the massive task facing security services the world over, trying to pre-empt an ever-increasing, ever evolving and often unknown threat.
So globally, we find ourselves in the current situation where rightfully, security is now seen as everyone's responsibility, at an individual, community and national level. We have now entered a time in history where security awareness is to become a constant, a major part of our culture, a base technique to be exercised as we go about our daily life.
Many years ago, Albert Einstein said something that is as relevant today as it was when said, just prior to the second world war. He said, "The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing". History has shown that evil individuals and groups have always existed and today is no different. We can't change them but we can change the environment they need to operate in.
Instead of sitting by oblivious to our surroundings, we all need to be more aware, ask questions and pass on information as appropriate. Anyone who thinks this issue need not be addressed in New Zealand, is part of the problem.
The optimists among us will view what's happening globally from a self-reassured perspective, believing that our neutral stance on many global issues, remote location, societal values and general way of life will ensure the violent issues affecting the rest of the world continue to evade us.
While it is true that New Zealand is a relatively safe environment, we must measure our use of this phrase as a safe environment for us.
New Zealand is a great place to live, a welcoming country committed to global peace - we must never forget these are our values and not the values of those who may seek to do us harm.
Advancements in technology and travel combined with evolving ideologies will ensure we, like the rest of the world, should never consider ourselves immune.
We all hope that our peace, safety and way of life will be preserved, but it is not something we should assume will occur by default. Like the rest of the world we must all work to protect it, citizens, visitors and immigrants alike.
Kiwis are inherent travellers and coming from a generally low risk country many adopt the same approach to personal security when travelling abroad as they do when travelling throughout New Zealand.
It is true we must get on with life, but we must also learn to manage our safety and not rely on the fact that 'it will never happen to me'.
This article is primarily in direct response to the recent events that have occurred in the UK, however the information below is designed to be used anywhere you may find yourself facing a similar life-threatening situation.
The worst thing that can happen in a terror situation is that you freeze or make ill-informed decisions, these personal safety techniques are designed to assist your decision-making process and help maximise your safety and that of those around you.
If each time you go out you mentally practice the techniques as detailed, they will soon become second nature.
Two basic types of cover
The first is cover from view (this will only prevent you from being seen by an offender) and could involve hiding behind racks of clothing, shelving, desks, promotional hoardings or large rubbish bins, to name a few.
Cover from fire is the second type of cover and relates to more robust structures designed to stop bullets such as thick cement walls or vehicle engine bays as examples. Basically, you are looking for anything that will stop the penetration of a bullet from a firearm.
Having determined which response will give you the greatest chance of survival we will now look at how we implement these two methods.
The current acknowledged best practice promotes a 3-stage response. This response would be conducted after your appreciation of the situation and includes the stages of 'Run, Hide, Call'. In summary, this means: Run from the threat. If you can't run, hide, and finally when you are clear of the area or secured in a safe place, call emergency services. If you are unable to contact emergency services, contact a friend and let them know what you saw and where you are and get them to make contact on your behalf.
If you decide to run
If you are in an unfamiliar environment and aren't sure which way is out, look for and follow staff in uniform, officials or locals as they will know the best exit.
When running try and reduce your profile as much as you can, even if it's only hunching over slightly.
Keep monitoring your surroundings, don't just run blindly. The situation may change quickly and you could end up running towards a new threat.
Run in short bursts of 10-50m while going from cover to cover. Running in a straight line for a long time could make you an easy target.
If the initial incident involved an explosive be aware there may be a secondary device. These would normally be placed near main exit routes or routes from venues or on main roads where the offenders would expect people fleeing to use. If you can use alternative back roads, alleys or safe secondary routes do so.
Again, in the event of an IED, don't run to the most obvious meeting point, ie a nearby park, carpark or other central point. If it's obvious to you to go there then it will have been obvious to the offenders who may have placed a secondary device at that location.
Be aware that some IEDs can be triggered by cell phones, so don't use your phone until you are clear of the area, unless you are unable to move and have no choice.
If you come across armed police while running away
Do not run or charge directly at them, this may be a natural instinct but remember they will not know who you are and you could match a description of an offender.
Do not grab at them.
Drop anything you are holding that you may have had for protection.
Do not reach into jackets or bags.
Raise your hands.
Follow their instructions.
If you decide the best option is to stay put
Only stay if evacuating is not safe, the best option if possible is always to evacuate the area.
Keep calm, use all your senses to determine what is happening.
If you are with others ensure everyone keeps quiet.
Look for somewhere that will separate you from the offenders, a separate room, secure hallway, garage or other location that will form a barrier between you and the offenders.
If there are no rooms your only option may be to hide behind a counter, table, bar, car etc. Remember the offender may come in and look around so the more secluded or obscure your hiding place the better.
Start considering what your options are should the offender come in, this may include running to an identified safe area or as a last option, fighting back. If the latter is your only choice remember there are no rules, do what you must to survive.
If the room you are hiding in is dark, remove the light bulb if possible. If the offender opens the door they will not be able to see into the room.
Lock or barricade yourself in. If safe to do so secure all doors and windows with whatever you can find to prevent someone pushing their way in or looking into your location. Do this quietly and in a manner that will not attract attention.
Remain quiet and out of sight.
Ideally your position should have a second secure but optional exit point.
While playing dead has saved some people in the past, this is not generally recommended.
Plan what you would do if the offender managed to break their way in. Options may include escaping via a secondary point, using a fire extinguisher to disorientate the offender or cover your escape, or even attacking the offender.
Turn your phone to silent and dim the screen if in a darkened room.
Text your location, how many people are with you, any injuries, what you saw and what you can see to several associates and the authorities.
Be wary of anyone outside the door or in the venue walking around saying they are the police, generally tactical police units who are looking for an offender will not walk around advertising their presence.
If you are rescued by the police while hiding.
Make sure you put down anything you are carrying that you were going to use as a weapon to defend yourself.
Do not suddenly charge at the officers.
Don't make any sudden movements.
Do not reach into jackets or bags.
Do not grab at them.
Raise your hands.
Follow their instructions