Vanessa Uwase was the first runner up in Miss Rwanda 2015 beauty pageant. The pageant put her in the limelight and she became a celebrity overnight.
This also came with a host of admirers-thanks to Uwase’s stunning looks. Unfortunately some of her admirers literally crossed the line and she found herself dealing with unrelenting stalkers.
“I had a stalker who followed me on almost every social media platform and even knew where I worked, which actually made me uncomfortable. At first, I didn’t care much until I read an article about a beauty pageant winner who was killed by her stalker,” Uwase says.
It was at that point that the former Miss Rwanda contestant realised that her stalker could just be a lot more dangerous than she imagined.
“I blocked him on all platforms and luckily, I had to leave my workplace for other reasons. He didn’t know where my home was, so I actually managed to get rid of him,” Uwase recalls her experience of dealing with a stalker.
Dealing with stalkers is a price every celebrity pays. Many international celebrities have fallen victim to this bizarre situation. Catherine Zeta-Jones received threatening letters from a stalker who was infatuated with her husband, Michael Douglas. Former television talk show host, David Letterman, also lived with it for years.But what motivates these stalkers?
And while celebrity stalking makes the news, far more frequently, it’s those living normal lives - women and men both - who are stalked by someone they know, typically a former partner or someone they’re involved with.
In Rwanda, there are no known cases of full blown psychotic stalking, but, stalking of any kind could trigger something more sinister.
Amos Furaha, a counselor at Live Again Rwanda, says that stalkers mostly do what they do based on the information they have.
“One will stalk what you avail to them, you shouldn’t give people access to your confidential information, especially if you’re popular,” he says.
He says that though he hasn’t received any particular case on stalking, it shouldn’t be a case to be taken lightly.
“I haven’t received any cases of stalkers but what I would advise is that instead of stalking, approaching the person is the best way. One shouldn’t waste time stalking someone, if you like someone let them know about it and move on,” Furaha advises.
Celebrities share their experience
Martin Kasirye, commonly known as MC Tino, says that girls stalk him a lot though he barely gives them attention since he is in a committed relationship.
“Girls stalk me a lot but I don’t give them attention because I have a girlfriend. However, sometimes I accept to meet them because it could actually be worth it,” he says.
Interestingly, the artiste admits to stalking too, especially when he has a crush on someone. He says it is a painful experience, especially if the person doesn’t share the same feelings for you.
“It hurts when the person you are interested in turns you down; I once stalked a girl on Instagram by liking all her photos, I eventually sent her a private message and gave her my WhatsApp number and after a month of communication, she told me she had a boyfriend,” Kasirye recalls.
Flora Umutoniwase, a former Miss Rwanda 2015 contestant was stalked by a guy who had a crush on her and wasn’t interested in letting go of the imaginary romance between them.
“The guy used to clog my account with endless emails and it bothered me so much. I ignored them but while silently praying that he would stop and leave me alone,” Umutoniwase says.
She adds that stalking is not only a problem for celebrities; many girls and women go through it.
“It’s not just me; I think many girls have had their fair share of stalkers. It is wise to ignore them but sometimes they can get really creepy. I mostly ignored, till he gave up,” she says.
Arisitide Mugabe, a basketball player with Patriots Basketball Club, is of the view that being stalked is inevitable as very many people have experienced it, especially public figures.
He says that he gets a lot of stalkers; however, he brushes it off easily since some of them are merely fans expressing their love.
He too admits to stalking a girl one time and as fate, or Cupid, would have it, the athlete ended up finding true love.
“I found myself stalking a girl but luckily, it worked for me and I won her heart. We have been together for two years and are still going strong,” Mugabe says.
Fatuma Umuhoza aka Nina, a singer in the duo Charlie and Nina, says that many of her fans are stalkers but and as long they respect her privacy and have boundaries, she doesn’t mind them. But some actually cross the line.
“Some stalkers are aggressive, they do it on social media; they call me all the time and even follow me home. I ignore them till they eventually give up,” she says.
Umuhoza says she doesn’t understand why some people stalk others because according to her, approaching that person is much better than beating about the bush and going through shady options.
“People stalk others for so many reasons but whatever it is, talk to the person rather than waste time. That kind of behaviour won’t reap anything in the end. I never stalk people because if I like someone, I don’t beat about the bush. I tell you straight away,” she points out.
Arthur Nkusi, a comedian, is another celebrity who has had to put up with frequent stalkers, most of whom are girls.
“I have had stalkers, especially girls, some of them actually use my photos as their profile pictures, they tag me in all their pictures, make friends with all my family members and call me all the time,” he says.
The comedian says that there’s nothing he can do about that apart from rejecting them until they eventually give up.
What does research say?
In his article, In the mind of a stalker, Robert T. Muller defines stalking as repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other behaviour directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.
He writes that, the relentless neurotic nature of the stalker can take the form of harassing their targets, calling them repeatedly, as well as sending letters and gifts. If these are ineffective, the individual may escalate to more intrusive behaviours such as spying on and unexpectedly confronting their victims.
Research tends to focus on how violating it is to bear the brunt of stalkers’ obsessions, but there is little to explain what exactly motivates the stalker and further, how to therapeutically treat these offenders.
“Researcher Katrina Baum of the National Institute of Justice in Washington conducted a national stalking victimisation study in 2009. Victims were asked what they thought motivated their stalkers to pursue them. Of 3,416,460 victims, 36.6 per cent considered stalker motivations as “retaliation, anger or spite,” 32.9 percent replied “control,” and 23.4 per cent said “mental illness or emotional instability,” Muller wrote.
He added that in reality, most stalkers do not suffer from hallucinations or delusions although many do suffer from other forms of mental illness including depression, substance abuse, and personality disorders.
How should one deal with a stalker?
I think it’s very important to avoid any contact with a person who is stalking you.
It’s obvious that the best medicine for any disease is prevention, especially when you are aware of the problem.
From my point of view, it’s wise not to call, write or speak to a person you’re aware is stalking you; that’s the best way to deal with the situation.
We all know that stalkers use personal information or other personal details to get to you.
I think it’s important to keep such information away from people you suspect might be stalking you. Whether it is your phone number, home address, email address, or where you spend most of your time.
If you can manage to keep this confidential you can effectively deal with a stalker.
In most cases, stalkers are suspicious, but it’s up to the person being stalked to tell whether it’s a creepy vibe that might result into something unpleasant.
In that case, it’s important to inform some of your close friends, or family, so that they are aware of what is happening to you. This is important because in case it turns sour, you have some people to be around you.
First of all, it depends on the kind and level of stalking the person is facing.
n case it is violent, I suggest that one should inform the authorities so as to prevent any future trouble. Nothing good comes from stalkers, so the situation should be handled with caution.
Whoever is being stalked should be vigilant.