Stalking & Children
Stalking poses a particular problem if there are mutual children involved from the preceeding partnership. The particular problem in such cases arises when the parent affected by stalking is unable to cut off contact to the stalking parent completely, as this person still has custody and/or access rights, and arrangements must be made regarding handing over the children in change in care, as well as regarding daycare, school, visits to the doctors etc. In this context and by asking children about the way of life of the other parent, the stalking parents know a lot about the everyday routine of the persons affected and they can easily be „looked out for“, for example at the children’s school.
Matters are further complicated in these cases, as it is not easy for outsiders, as well as for involved offices and institutions, to distinguish in what repects children are being exploited and where legitimate interest stops, and where unambiguous stalking begins. In this context, it can lead to the person who stalks‘ desire for contact being unintentionally aided, and the need for protection of the victim being harmed. Joint discussions with youth welfare services, judicical conditions of mediation, and couple and family therapy are contraindicated in stalking cases.
At the same time, it must be considered that for the parent, from whom the stalking originates, the loss of a partner and restrictions in access to his/her own child can be highly threatening and can often lead to an existential crisis. A strong knock to feelings of self-worth, experiencing unfairness and the severe humiliation of losing his/her role as a parent must be worked on promptly, as the danger of an inappropriate coping through stalking and/or other treatment is increased.
In the case of escalated separation conflicts with mutual children and disputes regarding custody and access rights, the welfare of the child and the justified interests of the parents must be weighed up against the instrumentalisation of the children for stalking. In cooperation with the youth welfare services and family courts, Stop-Stalking offers both parents who stalk, as well as parents who are stalked, counselling that takes the special circumstances into consideration.
Furthermore, the affected children and young people should be offered corresponding counselling and support, either in a community counselling centre for children or families, or with an established child or youth psychotherapist.