Stalking>Victim Blaming>Police

Stalker

Earlier this week the Police and their treatment of stalking cases hit the national news. This extract is from the fictional novel Casual Nexus in which we see the accumulation the pressures of the main character Sal being constantly stalked.

 

The art school was open to the public for the two weeks of the degree show. The busiest evening had been the opening last Friday, after that there was only the odd person wandering around. Many were potential students looking at courses or former students looking at what was going on in the tower of creativity by the central ring road. Quite a few people who had known Sal from the bars where she had worked had been there for the opening night and a few of her neighbours had popped in to look around on their way back from the town over the last few days. As the second coat of the prescribed ‘Pink’ dries, she cleans the spray gun and ensures the nozzle runs clear, she decides to go and ensure her exhibition space is tidy.

In walking into the studio, come, make-shift exhibition venue she encounters an individual she is becoming weary of beyond reason. Jumping out at her, the figure, as always dressed in the anonymity of greying black, lurching forward. Head held forth, arching off the helm of his inclined shoulders. Vision led, his upper body runs from Sal’ face, down through her shoulders, around her breasts. Covering her torso, through her baggy denim-clad legs then slowly back up the same route to her face.

Sal begins to shrink into herself, everything is getting too much for her; frustrations over her artwork, ongoing arguments with Tex, the approaching one-year milestone of the attack in Maine, and now the avid attentions of her stalker. Too exhausted to explode in combustion of stress factors, emotionally she felt herself crumble from head to toe. Herself, becoming simply remnants, grain pilled into a human size knoll.

The course leader had placed himself only feet behind Sal, he had come through when he had heard a whisper about the stalker. Recognising the character instantly from the glimpse he got of him from the office window earlier in the year. On encountering the stalker he had tried to engage him in some kind of conversation, but as usual, the grey/black adorned personage was unable to vocalise any form of structured sentences. His next move had been to talk to Kelly and Claire, they confirmed he was Sal’ stalker, then he checked to see if he had been untoward in regards to them:

‘No, he’s just like that with Sal.’

replied Kelly, Claire added:

‘Yes, it’s the way he looks at her, it’s obsessive. No, he isn’t interested in anyone else, just Sal.’

Progressing, to see if any of the other girls could be of benefit. Be-Be was almost in tears with fear, running into the ground, draining down her body, a wet blanket soaking on the ground. Digressing, he had turned his head away in disgust as Kate began the rhetoric of blaming Sal:

‘Her fault…he could start following me…..things like this are always happening to her….’

As standard, there was no logic to her chain of thoughts, a stream of resentment filled consciousness following from self-obsession embedded in her thoughts. Next, he chose to wait for Sal to make an appearance to gauge how bad this situation was through his reaction to Sal.

As Sal stood there, body crumbling the course leader stepped in:

‘Sal can you come through to the office please, I have some paperwork to go through..’

She needed no further encouragement, escape from the status quo, to get away from the stalker, to remove herself from everything and everyone. Strapping her crumbling emotions together, she managed to walk through to the Office and began to answer questions over how avidly he had been following her around.

In the office, Sal sits on one of the staff swivel chairs. Although this would normally feel like a luxury to a student, her mood could not stretch to appreciating the soft upholstery of the rotary form. Head looked down, she was not fully aware of the dialogue she was expressing in response to the details being requested. Fatigue has taken over, months of weariness accumulated, the stalkers appearance was the pinnacle of all her impediments. His appearance was the devil’s version of James and the Giant Peach landing on the Empire State Building. Sal wished she was the same age as James again, that everything that was happening around her was in a book she was reading. If only she could return to her adolescence, tucked up between pure white sheets with her brother Jack safely away on camp, reading the words of Dahl and engrossed in the images of Blake.

The course leader began to probe all the information he could out of Sal, gently but confidently easing out the information compressed in her memory. He had seemed to have started following her around last summer before she had gone away to the States, but it had become more obvious when she returned and he had found her new digs. Lingering about waiting for her to set foot outside the front door most days, except Tuesdays. This appeared to be because the rubbish was collected on this day and it looked like the bin men battered him as there was a persistent void in his presence on this day. Sal talked amiably about the bin men and had stated how great they were. It amazed the course leader how many people Sal knew in this city. Most students had no idea who their refuge collectors were, Sal was on conversational terms with the crew.

Sal held back her tears as she poured out her annoyances over the stalker, his repeated appearance, ‘You again!’ rapping on her brain. After the flow of distress, she became quiet and still, almost childlike as she composed herself. A peg doll, cut short and pressed into the upholstery of the desk chair.

Sal is oblivious to what is happening around her as the plastics lecturer swerves into the office carrying several off-cuts of acrylic;

‘Who is that guy in grey wandering around?’

She inquires brashly as she enters, the Course leader whispers towards her:

‘He’s the stalker that has been following Sal around.’

Sal’ mind is occupied by a place far outside the office, the city or perhaps even the Universe. She hadn’t noticed the presence of the plastics lecturer, she had not heard the question spoken.

Sal’ head and hearing ranges returned to that of the Art School Office as the plastics lecturer slams down the sheets of perspex. White molecules of dust from the workshop shoot into the air and begin the linger before the inevitable descent:

‘Oh great, now he’s going to start following me around!’

she screeches in wretchedness. Looking towards Sal, holding her fully accountable for his presence. The resentment she felt towards this student, running through the glare she directed down towards the distressed girl. The course leader and Sal looked directly back towards her, their gut reaction of utter disgust penetrating through the stale air of the internal office space. Not only did she have to cope with the continual presence of the stalker, but Sal was also now footing the blame for his potential to stalk others. Not only was it improper to blame Sal, but it was also equally invalid. The stalker was clearly fixated with Sal, he had no eyes or thoughts towards any of the other women, she was his sole focus, his desire, his obsession.

The Plastics lecturer looked back at the two faces of anguish looking directly into the aura of self-obsession which encased her white machine coat. Her next move was to leave, neither the Course Leader or Sal were prepared to tolerate any more of the extremities of her vileness. After shutting the door and walking back along the corridor she began to rant isolated mutterings. A torrent of thought about how Sal should never have been given a place, ‘Her fault’ and ‘Me’ focussed rhetoric.

Her thoughts fell into chimes with Kate’s, ‘Me’ mutterings resonating around the studio. Her eyes inquired towards the fear-soaked form of Be-Be. Someone she could use, she began to debate returning to the office, insisted that Be-Be’s fear was due to Sal putting her in danger from the stalker, then she could try and push the vulnerability of the sheltered fool draining in front of her eyes. She remembers the anguish on the faces in the office, she decides against any more confrontation and makes her way back to the workshop.

In the Office Sal and the course, leader looked at each other. Both were speechless in regards to the levels of self-orientation paraded by the plastics lecturer through the encounter. The course leader began to think on his feet, he told Sal he would phone security to escort him off the premises. In this directing Sal to stay in the office until he had gone. His next thoughts were to see how he could stop him for following Sal around the rest of the time. The Police was an option, ‘Stalking’ had recently been made an offence, perhaps the Officers of the Law would be able to do something. Relief ran through Sal’ body, he had made her feel safe again.

 

It emmergies throughout the novel that Kate is employed by the Police. Her character represents self obsession, narcissism and, most promonently, victim blaming culture within the Police Force.

A second character is reveal to be working for the Police: Be-Be. She highlights how extremely weak and feeble the women the authories recruit can be through their actions. We are presented with a girl who would never be capable of doing anything to protect anyone or anything being assigned a public protection role.

The plastics lecturer highlights the failing of Higher Education Institutes to take positive actions in regards to dealing with sexual predators.

Casual Nexus is looking to be published later in 2019.

 

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A Letter to your Former Self

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‘A Letter to your former self’ was a prompt for a sketch. It comprises of a mixed media image, pen and ink in addition to hard and soft pastels which are fully exploited. The figure representing the artist is almost angelic as it rises above the dangers of the personalities depicted below. The people are given the surround of an inferno to show the evil nature of their ways.

First, on the left we are presented with a girl who’s hair is entrenched by grease. From her mouth, vomit in projecting or possibly lies. A man, colossal in scale stands next to her, clothed in a T-Shirt brandishing Maine County. His body actions appear to be jerk driven and almost overacted. The face is blocked out, the visualisation of the facial features in denied, possibly a survival mechanism. Dreadlocks take control of the next character, malnourished but extremely confident through his stance, a drug dealer perhaps. We then see the image of a bore rising up, unfitting with the other figures. Centrally located, is a small but shifty character, the eyes look stoned as he hides under a well-worn woollen hat. A push-up bra babe then slots her way in, a true beauty with large eyes to match her breasts. Adjacent a geometrically formed man with glasses to match is present. One of his legs appears to be shorter than the other, a birth defect perhaps. A large, overweight women take over the majority of the space available. The next bound security pass shows her profession: a social worker, the fat drizzled features of her face depicting a falsehood of caring. Penultimately, the row is finished off with a dangerous man associated with the RAF. The final member of those present is a soldier, possibly a Para slotting his head into the image.

In ‘Letter to my former self’ the girl tells herself to avoid any other the characters, to rise above and not to allow any of them to cause her harm.

The sketch was completed by Alison Little, the prompt was provided by Allyson Bright:

30 days of Art Journaling Class

 

Consequential

Copy me blog

Consequential is the final chapter of Casual Nexus, the novel being written by Alison Little, this is an extract from the chapter. The characters and events are not based on real people or occurrences.

Bea Richards has also heard about the exhibition which Sal had got work into earlier in the week. Like Kate, she had also remained in the area. Not amongst the student though, as minor aristocracy her Father had decided that she should remain in the parental home throughout her University years and his long-term vision was she should continue to live there even after she married someone suitable. After all his parents who had been first cousins had not got married to ensure that the finances stayed within the family for his daughter to go and reside in some student hovel!

Bea thought over the degree show, she had done well from sales, much better than everyone including Sal. After a year everything seemed to have dribbled off, she needed new designs and without the help of the Art Lecturers, she didn’t know what to make. She was owed money from several small handmade shops but was too scared to phone up and inquire about cheques being processed. She thought about how Sal wouldn’t have these problems, she would probably go to her exhibition opening, talk to everyone, sell her work and all the galleries would want her and her artwork. Remembering Sal’s confidence, her ability to talk to everyone and anyone of all ages and all different backgrounds. Her Father, as a Senior Officer had used the Police’s computer system to look to look into Sal’s family background and concluded that she was, in fact, working class and related to many undesirables and even one prostitute. Bea knew the reality of their year at Uni, everyone had looked at Sal as the classy number and despite being aristocracy she had come off as some kind of number two. Sal was the one everyone had wanted to be friends with, she was at the centre of all the student parties while Bea made polite conversation over dinner with extended family members who seemed to be related to both her Parents on an equal footing. Reminiscing over how streetwise Sal was, how she had known about Bea’s boyfriend had been sleeping with prostitutes all along when she had no idea about what was going on.

Bea thinks back to the meeting she had been asked in for at the Police Station last month. As Sal had moved away her Police file had gone to a new Force and different Officers were investigating the open crimes. They had wanted details on what Sal had been subjected to as a child, she had not realised that Sal had been sexually abused. The Officers asked her further details about where Sal had been in the States and when she had no information they had stated that it was important because it was in regards to a serious rape case. It wasn’t her fault she didn’t know anything. Next, they inquired over the report Bea had written where she had been abrupt with herself, asking if that could have been a reaction to the pressure she was under due to the stalker who was following her around? In response she had said she didn’t know, she was then questioned over why she had not given a more detailed Police report in regards to the stalker coming into the degree show. At that point, Bea started to cry and left the room.

On leaving the room she overheard one of the Officers ask the other:

‘Why didn’t they send in someone more attractive and much classier?’

Bea then began to sob loudly and went on route to find her Father in the office he had frequented for many years. She explained to him what had happened and that she didn’t know anything about the rape case and went through again who Sal was going to copy her after the degree show. Her Father then shot out of his seat so abruptly that he almost fell over,

‘I will speak to them.’

He directed, as he marches off Bea follows him and listens by the door. He began by insisting that his daughter was not expected to know anything about a rape case and that this ‘Sal’ brought trouble on herself. He progressed to ask what would have happened if the stalker had started following Bea around and that his daughter was there to be protected. The subject of Bea being vulnerable was raised and the matter of Sal being abrupt with her an absolute atrocity. Finishing off the discussion with how upset Bea had been after the degree show because Sal was going to copy her work. The two Officers were then subjected to a long rant about how Sal had been so jealous of his daughter. They decided not to answer any of his accusations, it was clearly another Senior Officer unable to acknowledge the failings of his offspring.

Later at the Police Station Bea files a report raising the mater of Sal’s exhibition and suggested that she had probably submitted work similar to her as she had been intending to copy her after the degree show. Tears flow down her face and smudge the ink she has been writing with, she thinks nothing of Sal’s brother who abuse her, nothing of the man who had raped her or the stalker who followed her constant for a year. Bea cries in pity for herself, the tears on the Police report acknowledge the inadequacies of the Policewomen and the failings of the Organisation.