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Teen Girl Fined For 'Wasting Police Time' By Reporting Her Stalker — Then He Murdered Her

Photo: Sussex Police 
Teenager Fined For Reporting Her Stalker 5 Times Before He Murdered Her

Women who speak out against sexual harassment and violence are typically told to simply “tell the police.” But what happens when reporting a crime creates nothing but increased trauma and fear? 

This was the case for Shana Grice, a 19-year-old British woman who reported her stalker to authorities five times before he murdered her in her home in 2016. 

What happened to Shana Grice? 

Grice’s ex-partner Micheal Lane had stalked, harassed, and abused her before eventually taking her life while police stood by and ignored the multiple reports she'd filed. 

On one occasion, Lane was merely given a warning from officers after breaking into Grice’s home. Meanwhile, when she reported an incident where he physically assaulted her and tried to take her phone, she was slapped with a fine of $120 for wasting police time

Weeks later, Lane would break into Grice’s home for a second time and murder her while she slept. 

Grice's story featured in a recent Sky Crime documentary, "Murder in Slow Motion," about women who were murdered by stalkers who they had reported to police. The documentary also revealed that, after reporting her ex boyfriend to the police, Grice was interviewed by officers in front of Lane and her parents before having her story discounted and labelled a "lover's tiff."

This is just another tragic example of how the legal system consistently fails women, even when they go through the proper channels. But, sadly, these ocurrences are not rare. 

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Women struggle to put their faith in a system that fails them over and over. 

For women who find themselves in similar situations to Grice, gathering the courage to report abuse and harassment is almost impossible, especially when they know that the authorities might not take them seriously. 

Turning to the police can be a futile effort and only adds to the shame, embarrassment, and trauma that women experience at the hands of their abusers. 

Since 2010, 2,075 women have been murdered in the UK. 57% were killed by someone they knew, and a vast majority were the victim's partner or an ex.

This corresponds directly with similar figures in the U.S. According to a 2018 analysis of 4,484 femicides, 46% of women died at the hands of an intimate partner. 

Many of these deaths could have been prevented if previous reports had been taken more seriously. One-third of the men who killed a current or former partner were already known publicly to be a threat to their loved one. Men are getting away with cautions, fines, or mere slaps on the wrist before brutally murdering the women who report them. 

More women than ever are reporting occurrences of rape, yet the rates of conviction are rapidly dropping. Reports have increased by 173% in recent years while successful prosecution has dropped by 14%. The courage that women find to go through official channels is thrown back in their faces when their cases are overlooked, closed, or rejected by courts. 

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The people that women are told to turn to for help are also perpetrators of crimes against them. 

Approaching the authorities is made even more challenging given the high rates at which police officers commit crimes against women

In early March 2021, a London-based police officer was arrested for the murder of Sarah Everard, which sparked outrage and fear from women across the globe and deepened the distrust of those whose job it is to protect women. Everard was walking home on well-lit streets, covered up from head to toe, and even spent some of the journey on the phone to her boyfriend to let him know she was en route. 

She did all the things women are “supposed to do” yet still didn't make it. 

Again, her case is not an anomaly. Women are frighteningly vulnerable in police custody. In England and Wales, nearly 1,500 accusations of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, exploitation of crime victims and child abuse, were made against police officers between 2012 and 2018.

Police officers in the U.S. were charged with rape 405 times between 2005 and 2013. That's an average of 45 a year. Forcible fondling was even more common, with 636 instances of this assault making it to prosecution. 

And those are just the incidents that were reported and convicted. These crimes are divulged at incredibly low rates when reporting involves speaking to the coworkers and peers of your abuser. 

The lack of respect that women are shown when reporting crimes produces a vicious cycle of abuse. Women are deterred from reporting crimes, abusers are validated in their actions by never facing consequences and so continue to commit further abuses against women

But it's women who are paying with their lives for the shortfalls of a misogynistic legal system, and women who are the recurrent victims of this cycle of injustice. 

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment.