For four years, Hannah Perryman of Illinois peered out her window and saw a neighborhood girl who once had assaulted her pacing up and down her street, with an eye on her house, reports the Chicago Tribune. Perryman, now 17 and a star softball pitcher, spent a large chunk of her teenage years trapped — unsure what the girl who stalked her would do. Worst of all, police couldn't help. The neighbor wasn't breaking any laws.
The Perrymans shared their story with Illinois lawmakers, who in 2009 were working to strengthen protections for victims of stalking. Hannah Perryman and her mother have taken their experience to Washington. The pair, with a Streamwood, Il., police detective and social worker, spoke yesterday on a U.S. Justice Department panel in observance of National Stalking Awareness Month. It's the culmination of years of angst, with the goal of bringing a frightening issue to the limelight to help victims of stalkers, Perryman said. In 2008, Perryman and her family were doing yardwork when the neighbor rode her bicycle near their home and threatened Perryman. Prosecutors needed a second threat to bring stalking charges. New Illinois laws that went into effect last year allow victims to secure an order of protection against someone whom they are not domestically or romantically linked to. Perryman, a high school junior, plans to study criminology at the University of Missouri St. Louis.