Celebrities get away with crimes easily

Celebrity stalking - when love turns into hate

Many celebrities are victims of a stalker

The death of Rebecca Schaeffer sparked a debate in the United States about how to deal with stalkers. In response to the crime, Los Angeles police set up an anti-stalking unit. New laws were passed - first in California, then in all states of North America.

Nevertheless, Rebecca Schaeffer was not the only victim of a fan who had become a stalker. About three quarters of all celebrities are victims of a stalker at least once in their life. At least that's what Jens Hoffmann, who heads the Institute for Psychology and Threat Management in Darmstadt, says. He has been researching celebrity stalking for years.

People who are famous are often victims of stalking because their lives are played out in public. Many stalkers can identify with their star. You think your idol is perfect. Since he seems unreachable, many stalkers feel encouraged to seek contact with their star.

In Germany, too, there are relatively many cases of celebrity stalking. But only a few make it public. Many celebrities fear that they could provoke the stalker or motivate others to imitate them.

What is the difference between a stalker and a fan?

Fans usually spend a lot of time and energy on the person they admire. Sometimes they have feelings for that person too. But they know that a love affair with their star will always be a dream.

Stalkers, on the other hand, focus their entire everyday life on the celebrity. They distance themselves from their family and friends and only concern themselves with the object of their desire. Stalkers believe that the star they adore loves them too.

"I know of a case in which a stalker with packed suitcases stood in front of a celebrity's door and wanted to move in - with the firm belief that he was her husband," says Hoffmann.

That explains why stalkers keep trying to get close to their idol. They think they have a right to do so. When it comes to enforcing this right, stalkers can get very creative.

"It often happens that stalkers gain access to the personal environment of the celebrity," says Hoffmann. For example, a stalker took the job as a roadie in the crew of a musician in order to get close to his idol.

The closer it is, the greater the risk of violent assaults. This, too, distinguishes the stalker from the fan. Fans usually only wish their idol well. With stalkers, on the other hand, admiration easily turns into hatred. Some want to hurt or even kill the person they worship.

How celebrities deal with stalkers

For celebrities who are victims of a stalker, everyday life can become a burden. Especially when it is uncertain who the stalker is. "If a celebrity does not know whether the stalker is perhaps in the immediate vicinity, it is an enormous psychological burden," says Jens Hoffmann.

At the same time, the psychologist warns against publicly rejecting the stalker. "You should never give a stalker the feeling of having been turned away, because that can provoke disappointment and, in the worst case, violence," says Hoffmann.

This is especially difficult for celebrities who receive a lot of correspondence every day, including love letters. However, it would be wrong if the celebrities responded to the stalker's attempts to contact him. It is best to ignore them.

Jens Hoffmann also sees it that way. "Stalkers are often very unhappy people with low self-esteem," he says. If they were ignored, many stalkers would turn to other stars. However, this could take a long time, says Hoffmann. "I look after celebrities who have been dealing with the same stalker for eight to nine years."

There is no magic formula for dealing with stalkers. Jens Hoffmann advises those affected to get help from others. People who are the opera of a stalker should confide in the police or therapists - whether prominent or not.

Authors: Andrea Böhnke / Jennifer Dacqué

Status: 04.08.2016, 10:00