I’ve been following the horrible news about Johanna Justin-Jinich, a woman at Wesleyan University who was recently shot by a man who was stalking her. The man who allegedly killed her, Stephen Morgan, had been stalking her for quite some time. (It seems he had some anti-semitic motivations as well.) This story is harrowing:
As the investigation unfolded, the police focused on the only known point of connection between the victim and the assailant. It was a six-week summer program, in June and July 2007, at New York University, called Sexual Diversity in Society. [...]
The two lived in student housing, but not in the same residence hall, said John Beckman, an N.Y.U. spokesman. On July 17, as the program was nearing its end, Ms. Justin-Jinich notified the university that she had received repeated harassing e-mail messages and phone calls from Mr. Morgan. The school notified the police, and officers spoke with her. The case was referred to detectives.
The police report told of 38 e-mail messages that were “insulting” and “unwanted.” It quoted one as saying, “You’re going to have a lot more problems down the road if you can’t take any criticism, Johanna,” using an expletive. But she declined to file charges, and the matter was dropped.
One reason this news has me shaken up is that I know a lot of women who have been stalked. Thankfully, none of those situations has ended in violence. But stories like Johanna’s are all too common. Asia McGowan. Elnora Caldwell. Natasha Hall. Countless others.
Whether these women were stalked by someone they’d been in a relationship with or by a total stranger, reading about so many acts of violence by stalkers really makes it home that we have completely inadequate ways of addressing this issue. Yes, the Violence Against Women Act funds various police programs and local services to assist stalking victims. Yes, women can opt to press charges or file restraining orders. But as with so many situations of violence against women, in the end, there is no guarantee of safety, no fail-safe answer. It’s both depressing and infuriating at the same time. (Seems like a good time to point out again how messed up it is when products and magazines try to appeal to stalkers.)
Oh, and fuck you, Daily News. I’m sure Justin-Jinich, who was a women’s rights advocate, would have really appreciated being identified only as a “raven-haired stunner.”
NCVC tip sheet on stalking (PDF)
Is a restraining order ever enough?