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Beauty and the Beast: Violence in the Lives of Women and Girls (December 2013): Stalking

By Karen Evans

Stalking

In His Sights: A True Story of Love and Obsession details the experience of Kate Brennan, who was stalked for years after she decided to end a nearly three-year relationship with a man with whom she had been living.  From coming home and finding her front door open and personal objects moved in her home, to having her phone lines cut and strangers walking up to her with personal comments, Brennan shows the toll stalking can have on its victim.  Michelle Pathé’s Surviving Stalking provides resources for victims of stalking and those who care about them.  Her book defines stalking (legal and clinical); illustrates types of stalking (telephone, mail, following, surveillance); and provides a how-to manual for dealing with stalking in the United States, Britain, and Australia.  Case studies illustrating various types of stalking enhance readers’ understanding of this behavior.

Stalkers and Their Victims, by Paul Mullen, Michelle Pathé, and Rosemary Purcell (clinicians who have worked with and studied stalking and victims), provides a readable, authoritative resource on this topic.  The volume’s twenty-three chapters treat assorted issues about stalking victims and types of stalkers (rejected, erotomaniac, predatory, cyberstalker, same-sex, and proxy), including workplace and celebrity stalking.  Additional issues covered include evaluating risk and reducing the impact of stalking on victims, and prosecuting stalkers.  Peppered with individual cases of stalking, this volume is an excellent resource on the different types of stalking and combating the crime.  Doreen Orion describes her personal experience of being stalked by someone suffering from erotomania in I Know You Really Love Me: A Psychiatrist’s Journal of Erotomania, Stalking, and Obsessive Love.  Orion found notes and cards on her windshield, and unwanted phone calls and visits to her home by her stalker—a former patient—for eight years.  When the psychiatrist and her husband moved out of state, the stalker followed them.  Orion provides an interesting look at what it feels like to be stalked and the toll it takes on the person being stalked.

Stalking and Violence: New Patterns of Trauma and Obsession by Stephen Morewitz provides a wide range of information on stalking, from determining relationships prone to stalking to deciding when to involve law enforcement.  An interesting chapter covers nonlegal responses that stalking victims may take to end the stalking, such as direct interaction with a stalker or use of security measures.  Other chapters discuss stalking laws and police intervention, and treatment and incarceration.  Being stalked can affect many parts of the victim’s life.  Partner Stalking: How Women Respond, Cope, and Survive, edited by T. K. Logan et al., looks at stalking solely from the viewpoint of the victim.  Sixty-two females tell their stories about being victims of stalking and how it affected their lives, from the emotional toll to financial and employment issues.  The book ends on a positive note, discussing what has been learned about stalking from the interviews with the women, and offering tips for professional responders and women being stalked.

The Stalking of Kristin: A Father Investigates the Murder of His Daughter, by George Lardner Jr., provides a very personal look at a father trying to understand how and why his daughter was murdered by her stalker.  Lardner, an investigative journalist, turned a Pulitzer Prize-winning article about his daughter into this memoir.  Kristen Lardner, an art student in Boston, did everything she was supposed to do when faced with a harassing and stalking ex-boyfriend.  She talked to the police, filed restraining orders, and attended court hearings.  Time and time again, her stalker was able to manipulate the system in his favor.  Unfortunately, Kristin thought the criminal justice system would listen to and protect her.  The system did not, and she paid the ultimate price when she was gunned down with three bullets to the head on a Boston street on May 30, 1992.  Kristin did leave a legacy: because of her murder and her father’s subsequent work, laws were changed in Massachusetts.

Stalking: Psychology, Risk Factors, Interventions, and Law, edited by Mary Brewster, provides a wealth of information about stalking.  In addition to an excellent overview and historical coverage of stalking, this work addresses the numerous aspects of managing stalking situations.  The first section covers the prevalence and characteristics of stalking; stalking legislation in the United States (including definitions, constitutional challenges to statutes, criminal justice response to stalking, and recommendations for improving system responsiveness); civil legal options (types of protective orders, advantages and disadvantages of protective orders); and stalking controversies.  The second section addresses psychological issues, risk assessment, and interventions.  Included is a classification of stalkers as well as discussions of the clinical management of stalkers and their behaviors; children and stalking; the psychological impact of stalking; and when stalking turns violent.

Whisper of Fear: The True Story of the Prosecutor Who Stalks the Stalkers by Rhonda Saunders and Stephen Michaud presents a prosecutor’s view of stalking.  Saunders, the founder of the Stalking and Threat Assessment Team and former deputy prosecutor for Orange County, California, prosecuted stalking cases involving Madonna, Steven Spielberg, and Gwyneth Paltrow.  Saunders discusses stalking cases she prosecuted, including the disturbing case of a stalker who lived under the victim’s house in a crawl space.  A chapter titled “What You Should Know about Stalking” provides excellent information on this insidious crime, including the three things prosecutors must prove, and categories of stalking (intimate and nonintimate, erotomania, and false victimization).  This book provides valuable information to victims of stalking on what to do and ways to protect themselves.

The Stalking Resource Center (http://www.victimsofcrime.org/our-programs/stalking-resource-center), part of the National Center for Victims of Crime, is an excellent site for information on stalking.  In addition to fact sheets and links to other basic materials, this site offers resources to assist victims; a section on stalking laws (civil and criminal by state); publications and training materials for practitioners; and a searchable directory of services in local communities.  The National Institute of Justice’s website Stalking (http://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/stalking/) also provides valuable information on this type of crime.  It includes statistics on its prevalence and the characteristics of victims; data on the arrest and prosecution of stalkers; reports on intimate partner stalking; and links to many other related resources.