Rattled is the new memoir from the Scottish-born Australian, Ellis Gunn, and covers a dark element of fear and control that is stalking. Victims of stalking are many and varied, but in all cases leave a huge mental impact on their lives. And the exploration of the scenario from Gunn is enough to remind any skeptics of this. It pervades every element of her life, and demonstrates the ease with which some of these people are able to gain a feeling of control.
Gunn’s life has been a troublesome one, a series of struggling relationships and controlling men in her life sets the scene for a troubled time of things. As readers there is immediately a sense of empathy towards her plights and the deep emotional trauma that has been caused by this series of issues over the years.
Gunn punctuates the overarching narrative of the experience of being stalked after a seemingly innocuous meeting that turns into a sinister sequence of events with quite confronting facts and stories about stalking in Australia and around the world. The most troubling of which is the statistic that while approximately 1 in 13 men will experience a stalker or an example of stalking, approximately 1 in 5 women will experience the same. The prevalence of stalking towards women is both frightening, and deeply concerning about the state of our society.
Stalking is about control. It centres on highlighting the vulnerabilities of the victim and exploiting these to the point of concern. Gunn explores her own list of five likely reasons for stalking - and all of them leave prickly sensations at the back of one’s neck.
Gunn’s writing is captivating. The memoir reads a little like a psychological thriller - which in life, no doubt it truly was. The reader must continually remind themselves that this is a real story.
Thankfully the outcome from the story is a positive one, but not without its trials. Gunn’s venom is not always towards her pursuer - in fact, at multiple points of the narrative she genuinely seems to be concerned about understanding him more than fearing him - but more towards the wording of stalking laws that ultimately hamstring the police powers. If a stalker continually stands outside, say, the workplace of a victim day after day and silently harassing that same victim, the police can do absolutely nothing about it, not matter the psychological impact that would have on the victim. This, says Gunn, is completely wrong. New Zealand is not immune to this either.
Overall, the memoir was both insightful and deeply disturbing. A mix of fascinating knowledge and disconcerting events that, together, make a great read!
Reviewer: Chris Reed
Allen & Unwin