Book Review: Rachel Cassidy’s Stalked shows some of the human costs associated with this heinous crime

Rachel Cassidy has inadvertently become an authority on stalking. The CEO of the Anti-bullying Council and charity worker was once stalked. So she decided to write a book to shine a light on these issues to ensure that victims might not feel alone. Cassidy thus proves that the victims of this crime are not always those individuals found in the public eye. In fact, anyone can get caught up in the cross-hairs of another person’s unwanted, relentless pursuit.

This book is an informative one, covering topics such as, what is stalking, how targets are affected, the laws governing it, and what to do if you are a victim. There are also a list of resources at the end, and Cassidy does interview a few experts who occasionally offer up some illuminating food for thought. Some of the information in this title can be found online and in other volumes, after all, stalking isn’t anything new. Though, at times I felt Cassidy referenced the work of too many other studies rather than having her own original thoughts on the topic. This is save for her own classification system, where she has developed definitions for five types of stalkers. There is duplication here, as Cassidy divides the perpetrators into:

– The rejected stalker: one who engages in this following the breakdown of a close relationship
– The resentful stalker: one who targets strangers or acquaintances who they perceive mistreated them in some way
– The incompetent stalker: who seeks a close relationship but lacks the social skills to establish one successfully
– The intimacy-seeking stalker: who targets strangers with intense feelings of unrequited love
– The predatory stalker: who engages in sexually deviant behaviours and is motivated by their own gratification

Perhaps the most fascinating chapter in this book is where Cassidy interviews a stalker named “James.” While he offers up some interesting insights into what he did, there are a number of questions that remain unasked. This includes more about his inner thoughts and whether he believes he will stalk again. Readers would probably also want to know what he does to stop re-engaging with the stalking thoughts and behaviours. This chapter, at five pages, is very brief and some of it includes the author’s own experience with stalking. This seems like a shame and missed opportunity. Cassidy could have done more to delve into the psychopathy and show this more hidden and unknowable subject in greater detail.

This book also describes the experience of Mark Wilson of Dancing with the Stars fame. In Wilson’s case, the perpetrator burnt down his dance studio on two separate occasions. Reading this part at times feels a tad voyeuristic and verging on misery porn. There are moments where Cassidy’s descriptions blur the lines between stalking and other heinous acts like murder, bullying and harassment. It is hard to know where one thing finishes and the other thing starts.

Stalked may be a useful primer to those who find themselves in this unenviable position. While it can be educational and insightful at times, there was plenty of room for additional detail and commentary. This is a look at some case studies and subject matter experts, and it breaks down some of the human costs here. Stalking shows what a hopeless, devastating and insidious crime this can be.

 

TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Rachel Cassidy’s Stalked: The Human Target is available now through Rockpool Publishing.

Natalie Salvo

My writing portfolio can be found at: https://nataliesalvo.wordpress.com/