A few years ago, TK Logan, a University of Kentucky professor who researches violence against women, was discouraged by the lack of attention given to stalking.
"I felt like not enough people understood it and not enough people were taking it seriously," she said.
But that's starting to change. On Wednesday, near the end of National Stalking Awareness Month, Logan will be at the White House to take part in a national roundtable discussion on stalking.
On Thursday, she'll be back at UK, giving a talk about the dangers of stalking for college students, and she's continuing work on a special project on stalking with the help of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History.
"It's just fantastic. I've seen more attention in the last year than I've seen since starting to study this," Logan said. "Hopefully, Kentucky will sit up."
Some of that attention, including the White House roundtable, stems from a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control last month showing that one in six women nationwide has been stalked during her lifetime. Kentucky had the highest rate of all states, with one in four women affected.
In 2009, Kentucky was reminded about the dangers of stalking and domestic violence when Steve Nunn, a former state lawmaker and the son of the late former Gov. Louie B. Nunn, murdered his former girlfriend, Amanda Ross, in downtown Lexington. Before he killed Ross, she had reported stalking behavior by Nunn.
One of Logan's recent papers showed the serious effect stalking can have on victims. In a 2010 research paper sponsored by the National Institute of Justice, she found that stalking — defined in Kentucky as behavior that seriously alarms, annoys, intimidates or harasses — often overlaps with sexual assault and violence, and it can cause anxiety and depression in its victims.
College students are key victims because many might not recognize the problem. That can be exacerbated by social media, Logan said.
Many people might put up with stalking because they don't really understand what it is or how dangerous it can become, she said. That's where The Stalking Project got started in 2008.
Logan and domestic violence prevention advocate Teri Faragher wanted to make a documentary about stalking and partner violence. She asked for advice from Doug Boyd, director of the Nunn Center. He helped them design an interactive project, conducting video interviews with victims, advocates and judges about stalking. Viewers may watch the interviews at Outrageus.org.
"We wanted to get a sense for capturing victims' stories, along with a little bit of historical perspective," Boyd said. "We're creating something that's more dynamic than a documentary, and we'd like to raise the money to do it on a larger scale. It raises a lot of issues."
One of the videos is an interview with Debbie Riddle, whose sister Peggy Klinke was stalked and murdered by an ex-boyfriend in 2003. Her death led to National Stalking Awareness Month.
"We thought if we could do something where we could get victims to tell their story, that maybe it would help to push the movement forward," said Logan, who conducted the interviews, which were filmed by Walter Brock. "We want to get more stories and continue the project, and see it expand."