Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Effects of Stalking: A First-Hand Account

We say over and over on this blog that stalking is not funny. People who stalk do real damage to their victims. No one can say this better than ESPN sportscaster Erin Andrews, who has become to stalking what Rihanna has become to dating violence.

In some ways, the news is anti-climactic: Michael David Barrett, an insurance executive of Illinois, pled guilty yesterday to the interstate stalking of ESPN sportscaster Erin Andrews.

More specifically, Barrett admitted to buying information about Andrews over the internet; traveling to follow Andrews; staying in three hotel rooms next to hers (the hotels told him which room was hers); twice filming videos of Andrews while she was naked through the door's peephole; posting those videos online; and trying to sell the videos to TMZ.

It's just another chapter in the long, long story of the objectification of Erin Andrews.

But what stands out about yesterday's hearing is that for once, it gave the 31-year-old sportscaster the chance to speak for herself -- and what it is like for her to pursue a job she loves while navigating fierce misogyny and harassment. What follows is a collection of her statements at the hearing, gathered primarily from Sports Illustrated and ABC News.

Listen to her words:
She lamented that the videos remain online and can never be scrubbed from the Internet. She spoke candidly to the judge and reporters after the hearing about being "a little paranoid" when she checks into a hotel. She said she sometimes imagines she sees Barrett and has nightmares.

"I live in hotels because of my job, and every time I check in, I look around, constantly thinking he is there," she said.

"I have nightmares. I walk in crowds and I see him in my peripheral vision. When I'm alone in my house, I have fears he's going to come in and hurt me... My career has been ripped apart, something I've worked very hard for. I am subjected to crude comments, suggestions that I have partnered in this crime. I walk into stadiums, and fans say obscene things to me."

Andrews said she didn't consider leaving her job at ESPN. "I do what I love," she said after the hearing. "It was time for college football to begin."

"I didn't do anything wrong. If I can make a difference for more women, that's what I want to do."

"I want him to stay in jail as long as possible. "He's a threat to women everywhere. I feel like it was my duty to come here and tell this judge what he has done to me, because I don't want another family to be ripped apart by this. I don't want somebody else's career to be ruined by this."

Does this sound like someone who just couldn't take a joke?

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