SIU professor shares stalking victims’ stories

By Gus Bode

SIU professor presents program on stalking based on information she gathered for her book

Stalkers are batterers who do not stop battering once the relationship is over, Jennifer Dunn told an audience Tuesday.

Dunn, a SIUC professor of sociology, presented a program called “Stalkers and Stalking:The Unseen Danger” for students and faculty at the Student Center.

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The event, sponsored by the SIU Women’s Services, was coordinated by Jane Maxwell, Women’s Services outreach specialist.

She invited Dunn to speak because she had read an article about a book Dunn wrote called “Courting Disaster:Intimate Stalking, Culture, and Criminal Justice.”

“We are always looking for programs to showcase people from SIU,” Maxwell said. “And for Women’s Services, this is an interesting topic.”

Dunn spoke about the information she had gathered for her book while working in a state district attorney’s office and working with the domestic violence unit. Through this experience she gathered information via interviews and by reading victim narratives.

“Stalking is like a dialogue or a dance,” Dunn said during her presentation. “Both people take actions based on what the other person is doing.”

She also shared information she had gathered from a sorority house questionnaire that involved hypothetical questions involving stalking.

“Stalking is a matter if interpretation,” Dunn told the audience. “We have to attach meaning to an event to make sense of it.”

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Casey Elstad, an undecided freshman from Minnesota, attended the presentation to earn extra credit for a class but was surprised and grateful for the information she learned.

“This is really important information for people to know, ” Elstad said. “It’s creepy to think that this really goes on.”

Dunn also spoke about what she learned from victims about the behaviors of their stalkers. She compiled a list of the most common behaviors, which included showing up at a victims home, following, repeat telephoning and breaking in/vandalizing victim’s car and home.

She also presented information on the most common ways victims reacted to stalking, including calling police, screening phone calls, stating boundaries and trying to reason with the stalker.

Dunn also old the audience what not to do if you are being stalked.

“I suggest taking every action to protect yourself,” Dunn said. “Even if that is a restraining order or continuing to tell authorities about the situation.”

Maxwell was impressed with the whole presentation and was thankful for the information Dunn presented.

“Stalking is a subject that people talk about in casual conversation but that they don’t know a lot about,” Maxwell said. “Sometimes the best protection is education.”

Reporter Kristina Dailing can be reached at [email protected]

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