Some outreach programs aim to help victims of stalking — but now one clinic is targeting the stalkers themselves. Can psychotherapy for stalkers keep their victims safe?
According to the Independent, that's what a new clinic at St. Ann's Hospital hopes to do. Says founder and psychiatrist Frank Farnham, "If we can treat stalkers we can save lives. There is a great need for a co-ordinated national service that can provide specialist advice and treatment." He also says there are four types of stalker — "rejected and resentful," "incompetent suitors," "pathologically infatuated," and "predatory." The second type, he asserts, may have autism spectrum disorders that could benefit from treatment; the fourth, unsurprisingly, is the most dangerous.
In principle, treatment for stalkers sounds like a good idea — especially if they're truly "incompetent" and just need help relating to other people. The scheme is only problematic if treatment eclipses other measures necessary to keep stalking victims safe. Melissa "Koala" Largess was rightly criticized for helping draft a sexual assault policy at Occupy Baltimore that emphasized counseling for perpetrators and seemed to discourage reporting sex crimes to the police — at the time, she said, "there are a lot of ways people can deal with assault and conflict. The way we all know is to make someone wrong and punish them instead of work with them to correct their behavior." Occupy Baltimore later drafted a new policy that emphasized respecting the wishes of victims. Survivors of stalking, like survivors of assault, have the right to know that those who commit crimes against them will be prosecuted, if that's what they want. If treating stalkers can help them rejoin society without reoffending, then more power to Farnham and his clinic. But such treatment can't take the place of giving victims the protection — and the justice — they deserve.