Sandra was married to Gavin at age 18. Their first child was born within a year after the wedding. Gavin was not physically abusive at first. He displayed extreme jealousy, however, and would often visit Sandra’s place of employment to ensure she was at work and to establish a presence to let the men working with Sandra know that she “belonged” to him. Gavin often engaged in psychological battering, telling Sandra that if she ever left him he would kill himself. Their sexual relationship was not fulfilling, and Gavin engaged in marital rape on a regular basis. When Sandra became pregnant with their second child, Gavin accused her of having an affair and refused to accept the child.
One day, during Sandra’s pregnancy, Gavin became physically abusive. That was when Sandra left him for the first time. She returned and left two more times before she was finally able to convince herself that she needed the relationship to end.
Gavin seldom contacted Sandra and consistently failed to either pay child support or visit his children. Sandra eventually remarried and thought she put Gavin in the past. Then one day, about five years after their divorce was final, Sandra went to visit her parents at a remote location in the mountains, where they moved two years previously. She left her children with her current husband so she could get away and think about this marriage, which was also getting rocky. While at her parents, Gavin phoned, said he heard she was having marital difficulty, and asked to meet her at another location to talk about child support.
When Sandra failed to show up at the meeting, Gavin turned up at the door of her parents’ home. Sandra had left a day earlier right after Gavin’s call because she was frightened – how did he know her parents’ phone number? Even more frightening was the fact that he knew where they lived, knew she was there, and knew she was reconsidering her current relationship. This was the first and the last time Gavin contacted Sandra, giving her a reason to fear for her life, although it haunted her from that day forward.
Would you categorize Gavin’s actions as stalking? Why or why not? Do you think incidents such as this should be legally classified as stalking? What should the victim do in such instances? Justify your response.