Walked Right Through That Restraining Order…

Have you listened to the lyrics of “Redneck Crazy” by Tyler Farr? It details the horrid stalking behavior the singer plans—and of course, he blames the woman for his behavior, because she broke up with him.

I hate that song.

I lived it—right up to and including the truck on the lawn and the beer cans thrown at the window.

The Nation Center for Victims of Crime has a section on stalking. It defines stalking as a pattern of behavior that makes you feel afraid, nervous, harassed, or in danger. A stalker repeatedly contacts you, follows you, sends you things, talks to you when you don’t want them to, or threatens you.

Stalking behaviors can include:

  • • Knowing your schedule.
    • Showing up at places you go.
    • Sending mail, e-mail, and pictures.
    • Calling or texting repeatedly.
    • Contacting you or posting about you on social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc).
    • Writing letters.
    • Damaging your property.
    • Creating a Web site about you.
    • Sending gifts.
    • Any other actions to contact, harass, track, or frighten you.

It all sounds so benign, even the hundreds of daily calls and texts, until you get to that last point—actions to harass, track and frighten you.

Stalking is obsession. It’s about power and control. It’s a crime.

The problem is states are just now getting on board and adding laws criminalizing stalking. Like far too many crimes against women, it’s difficult for law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office to develop a case they think they can take to court—and win. They prefer something less nebulous—did the stalker break into your house? Hit you? Hurt you? Those are tangible—yes or no. Forensic evidence supports it. Showing up everywhere you go? Coincidence, the stalker claims.

The statistics on women who are killed by an intimate partner are even more sobering. The victims reported stalking and abuse—to friends and the police—who were often as helpless as the victim to do anything about it.

So what to do with these depressing statistics?

I decided to put a human face on them. As the layers of So About the Money are revealed, the reader finds stalking in the backgrounds of both Marcy, the murder victim, and Holly Price, the amateur sleuth heroine. Surviving the ordeal deepens the bond between the women and drives Holly to find out not just who killed Marcy, but why was she murdered?

That, to me, is the beauty of an amateur sleuth or cozy. The author can build depth into the characters and plot without climbing onto a soap box.

Now of course I would never recommend you poison your obsessive, violent partner’s black-eyed peas, but I rather liked “Goodbye Earl” by the Dixie Chicks (written by Dennis Lynde) as an alternative theme song.

Originally published as a guest post for Leslie Budewitz blog


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