By Camela Thompson
The advertisements for Stalker had me en garde - they were framed in such a way that appeared the detective squad's intent was to rehabilitate stalkers rather than protect their victims. While rehabilitation would be nice, I have a harder time relating to the people acting on a delusion than I do rooting for them to be caught. It's probably not the best mindset, but at least I'm honest. I was concerned that the show would romanticize stalking, but I was pleased with the actual content.
In the grand scheme of things, having a stalker only took up a very small portion of my life, but it was traumatic enough to leave me jumping at every shadow for at least two years. The paranoia continued to a lesser extent. I was more guarded in college than most, which in certain circumstances served me well. I was always cautious around open containers, checked the seals on any bottled beverages, and was careful about where I parked and how I got home. I called myself "paranoid," but a lot of the behavior was smart. Watching the pilot episode of stalker brought back a lot of negative memories - and had me remembering some of those same habits - checking all of the locks, facing the door so I could see a shadow underneath, and the frustration I felt.
Stalker did a great job of portraying the helplessness felt by victims. Many stalkers are smart enough to tiptoe along the line of a restraining order, just pushing far enough to intimidate without violating a law. There isn't much that can be done by law enforcement until an aggressor has done something menacing or physically harmed a person. A stalking victim is psychologically toyed with - predators get a rush from the control they exert over their victims. It isn't hard to get caught up in the fear that comes with wondering what is next. When is he/she going to violate the order? How far will he/she go? It's disruptive and anxiety inducing.
The one aspect of the show that made me laugh was the existence of a unit in any police department that focuses on proactively preventing crime. A stalker unit. When I did some research online, there actually appears to be a Threat Management Unit in the LAPD. I was really surprised, but I still wonder how proactive the law allows them to be. Legal institutions are reactive by nature, which I see value in. It would be insane to start arresting people before they commit a crime based on some kind of probability model like Minority Report. Still, the Threat Management Unit is something I will be reading up on. I would be interested to see statistics around the efficiency of such a model.
Have you seen Stalker? What did you think?
Join me on Wednesday (10/15) for the launch of All the Pretty Bones.
Freelance writer and Dark urban fantasy author featuring vampires with bite.