OutrageUs: The Stalking Project
In 2009, OutrageUs formed a partnership with the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky and noted Kentucky filmmaker Walter Brock to address one of the most misunderstood areas of partner violence – stalking. The often hidden issue of stalking has been brought to life through personal narratives and mini-documentaries that give voice to women who have been stalked by an intimate partner, and the professionals who have worked with them through their efforts to seek justice and safety. The emotional and educational power of spoken-word recordings and short films produced through the Stalking Project are balanced and complemented by practical information, tools and strategies to help guide victims and communities who are inspired to act to address stalking.
OutrageUs is collaborating with survivors, researchers and practitioners to identify and develop a broad spectrum of educational and training resources, supportive services and research informed practices to help communities effect change and improve their response to stalking. Materials created through the Stalking Project are accessible at OutrageUs.org, along with professional services such as consultation and training.
The Outrage of Partner Stalking:
I can remember I would go to Meijer’s at night because ten years ago it was the only store that was open 24/7, and I would sit there all night in the Meijer’s little coffee shop because I knew he wouldn’t find me there. And I knew that I could stay there and eat something and read a book, and then I’d go back and shower and go to work the next morning. It’s a miserable life.
Partner stalking, the initial area of focus for OutrageUs, is a pattern of behavior that is invasive, dangerous, unpredictable and frightening for the intended target. Stalking is NOT accidental. It involves a systematic and deliberate set of tactics designed to control or induce fear. The biggest indicator may be the victim’s level of fear or concern for safety which can manifest in changed behavior such as taking safety measures, avoiding places, anxiety, constantly “looking over your shoulder,” and, trouble sleeping. It occurs more frequently than many would imagine. A recent study reported that one in six women and one in nineteen men in the U.S. are stalked at some time during their lifetime. Though stalking laws have been on the books in most states for a decade, there are few communities in which they have been effectively implemented. Criminal justice systems often do not take stalking seriously and victims, terrorized by perpetrators, often feel alone and unprotected.
I carried a stun gun to my car, from my car to my health club, back home, always aware of what might happen. I kept a gun near my bed. I locked my doors when I stepped outside to mow the lawn, to carry out the trash, to walk down my driveway. I kept my curtains drawn at night and tacked up black cloth around the window edges… That’s no way to live.
Stalking may be hard to recognize because the vast majority of crimes in America are viewed by law enforcement agencies as “incidents” or distinct criminal acts that begin and end in a relatively short period of time. What distinguishes the crime of stalking is that it is a collection of “incidents” that individually may not appear threatening to people other than the victim. Victims often feel that their fears are dismissed or ignored by others, even when they can sense that they are in danger. Stalkers invade every aspect of victims’ personal and professional lives, sometimes causing them to live, as one victim put it, in a “prison without bars.” They never know when or where their stalker is going to strike. For victims of stalking, it is a 24 hours a day, seven days a week nightmare.