One of the fall's most controversial new shows was Stalker, a CBS procedural that tried to make a case of the week out of the titillation of watching a new woman being stalked, and sometimes killed, in every episode. Now Lifetime is telling a similar story, but with the focus on one specific woman in Stalked By My Neighbor, a fictional TV movie that is about exactly what the title suggests. Though it's not based on a true story, there are also many real-life cases like Lifetime's Stalked By My Neighbor . An unbelievable amount, actually, and all you have to do is Google "woman stalked by neighbor" and be horrified at how many hits come up.
While a common trope in film and television, stalking is also an all-too-common occurrence in the real world. It's a crime that happens to too many women, and according to the New York Times, often goes underreported or isn't taken seriously until things get dangerous, even deadly. A report from the U.S. Department of Justice revealed that women are more often the victims, though the demographics are split more evenly than pop culture would suggest. The report also found that about seven out of 10 victims of both sexes are bothered, followed, and stalked by people they know in some way. Exes, coworkers, and yes, neighbors, have all become stalkers, and in Lifetime-worthy twists, people been followed into their homes or to their cars before the authorities have gotten involved. Even more frightening? These real stories put Stalked By My Neighbor and its scripted drama to shame.
A "Regular" Stalking Is Highly Traumatic
The film may exaggerate many things, but stalking can be very hard for women to have taken seriously. Helen Pearson, a British woman, reported her stalker 125 times, according to the Daily Mail. And he wasn't arrested until he eventually assaulted her late at night.
One Neighbor Stalked His Whole Town
Once of the strangest elements of Stalked By My Neighbor is that the stalker is bothering everyone on the heroine's block. Most real stalkers stick to a single target, but there was a story reported by Chattanooga, Tenn.'s local NBC affiliate about a man who was "stalking" his entire neighborhood... with prank calls. He somehow managed to steal his neighbors' home, cell, and work numbers, and then program them into a website that would robotically make the two numbers call one another hundreds of times a day. It's a little ridiculous compared to some of the more violent stalkers out there, but hundreds of prank calls per day is a pretty big nuisance, and the cops did need to eventually intervene.
Ironic Stalkers Thought They Were The Victims
A married couple living in upstate New York called the authorities on and filmed their neighbor so frequently that they were arrested for stalking. In the couple's statements to ABC's 20/20, they claimed that their next door neighbor was "redefining the border [of their two properties] closer and closer to our house." Worried that he was going to steal their land, they sued, and then, even after winning the suit, continued filming him and his land for 24 hours a day.
One Michigan Man Was A Serial Stalker
Some stalkers have lots of victims before ever being arrested and taken off the streets. As reported by M Live, Christopher R. Hunt, a Michigan native, was allegedly following and closely observing a female neighbor, Amy Hawkins, in a way that made her suspicious — he would ask her about personal information like her husband's business trip, and was seen on and around her property late at night. When Hawkins contacted the police, another neighbor spoke up and said the Hunt had also been leaving her unwanted, unsolicited gifts because "he found [her] attractive," according to the local Sheriff's Deputy.
One Man Stalked Without Even Leaving His Home
Washington's Federal Way Mirror reported that Barbara J. Pinter came to blows with a neighbor when his defensive girlfriend attacked Pinter for confronting him over their personal drone, which was hovering outside of her window for prolonged periods. Drone stalking: for creeps of the future.