As a threat advisor by profession, Spencer Coursen’s job is to assess the level of danger individuals are in when it appears someone is out to get them. He’s helped protect myriad celebrities—their stalkers often strangers who think they’ve formed some connection with this famous person. Coursen says one stalker was under the impression he was receiving secret messages from a celebrity through the star’s TV appearances. Another was an limo driver who felt he shared more than just a ride home with his famous passenger. These otherwise ordinary-people-turned-would-be-assailants might sound like loose cannons, but in Coursen’s opinion, another group is a far greater threat—abusers.
“In intimate partner violence, the victim and abuser know each other. With that level of intimacy, the abuser knows the pressure points, the ways to manipulate [the victim] emotionally, and the triggers that set them off.” And, adds Coursen, in most cases, the abuser has already expressed and displayed violence, and is ready to escalate it. And the most common time to do so is when the survivor decides to leave.
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