In Stories of the Stalked, a new six-part podcast from Audible, British dancer and filmmaker Lily Baldwin shepherds listeners through her 13-year experience of being stalked by a stranger who believes they are soul mates. It all began when she was performing in France with David Byrne, Brian Eno and Marianne Faithfull—one of 150 dates on a world tour. With unflinching honesty and candor, Baldwin explains how her life unraveled as she received endless e-mails, calls, and messages from a person she calls X. The series is raw, immersive and harrowing—transporting the listener into the heart of the experience and resulting trauma.
What have you come to realise people don’t understand about stalking? How many people are impacted by it—and—how many people don’t talk about it. Even in a safe environment, fear wraps itself tight around the victim who has learned to hide. It’s also uncomfortable and hard to put into words. From shame to distrust to “it’s not bad enough”—it can feel easier to bury the fact that you’re being stalked.
Because stalking is not adequately acknowledged (societally, legislatively etc.) it doesn’t have the status it deserves and also gets brushed under a rug by non-victims. Equally, Giving stalking words and energy can be triggering.
There is also often an embedded stigma that the victim has somehow done something, “asked for it,” or is somehow weak and overacting because the danger isn’t “real” as in visible or bloody. In our climate of visibility our visibility is a form of currency: more eyes, more value. There is nothing wrong with this. It’s just a double-edged sword.
I know you talk about this in the podcast but can you share a with us here the steps it has taken for you to be able to speak about this and go public with your story? It’s been a lot. It still is—navigating the disclosure and exposure of going public. Ultimately there has been a release in it—giving my story away in a sense, has helped me—because I know I’m not alone, and I feel less alone giving voice to my version of this terror that hopefully helps others feel less alone.
There’s a powerful sense of reclamation, but that comes with a mad vulnerability and doubt.
I have a solid personal support system and a couple things in place that I can’t share publicly that help me feel safe enough to speak out.
Also, I always share my back pocket safety tips (everyone’s situation is different): Avoid geo-tagging. Use an alias. Consider using an app on your phone that scrambles your IP. Keep records (see StopStalkingUs.com for an “ incident log”), and take them to the police, or if you don’t want to, a victim advocacy organization. Stalking is an underreported crime, we need the data, so we can start to build a clear picture of the issue we’re facing.
Tell me about the process of writing this podcast—was it cathartic? Did you have no go areas? The whole production took a year. It’s been a beast! Absolutely not cathartic and fully triggering. I dropped myself into each moment I was writing, conjuring up feelings I’d buried, read my stalker’s words in detail and helped bring him to aural life (including directing the actor playing “X”).
My priority has always been to put the listener inside the story—as an education, a conversation starter, and in solidarity with other victims. I’m also aware that my story is a creepy, stranger-than-fiction true-life thriller.
Why did you want to make this podcast? Since I first went public with my story in 2016 the outreach from stalking victims and survivors have been heartbreaking and invigorating. They get the level of collapse and erasure that happens—and know why I only just re-registered to vote. Our solidarity propels my horror into a mission.
I don’t pride myself as a stalking aficionado. I too would rather not be talking about stalking, but I know it’s a privilege to be here talking about it. And yes, it’s a safety risk— but I would risk more by shutting up and becoming a cloaked version of myself.
What has happened and changed since releasing Stories of the Stalked? A lot has happened. And not enough. There’s been an outpouring of other victims and survivors with horrible stories. All genders, young and old, with all kinds of stalking experiences—from intimates to gang stalking to online trolling. They’re scared, appreciate my story in solidarity, are equally triggered by it, and some want help. Some are so scared they won’t go to my nonprofit website because everything they do is tracked.
Some true crime fans don’t know what to make of the victim’s side of the story and the emotionally driven sonic scapes. Others excitedly don’t know what to call this genre-bending podcast.
You recount the limited protection afforded to you by law enforcement and public policy—how can we change this? What needs to change? Had I been able to build a felony (more serious) charge, I’d still have an order of protection today. In my experience, the law doesn’t recognize how violent these crimes truly are and fails to offer viable protection for victims or consequences for perpetrators. Even with legal support, X continues stalking me.
As my lawyer says, “the law is a blunt instrument.” I’d like to see a more nuanced approach to policy that mandates unbiased listening with customizable diagnostic and treatment protocols. Everyone deserves to feel safe.
I know this is something you grapple with and I wonder what your thoughts are currently about what is the price of being a woman and actively working in the public eye? The price of being the visible woman that I am is potentially death: death of my voice, my spirit, my heart and my body. The whole shebang. I’ll lean into this phrase of mine, being seen is a potent and dangerous double-edged sword. The question is, how to handle the sharp blade wisely.