Cyberstalking: A Modern Menace
By R.A. Knowlton
Like many people today, I have picked up some cyberstalkers. It seems they came around after I published my novel KnorraSky. At first I did not even know about them. They did not harass me online. Their approach was different. I will discuss that later.
For those who are not aware of cyberstalking, I looked up the term and found this on WikipediA.
“Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization. It may include false accusations, monitoring, making threats, identity theft, damage to data or equipment, the solicitation of minors for sex, or gathering information in order to harass.”
I used the chart below to determine the severity of my Cyberstalking. If you are being cyberstalked I suggest you do the same. ____________________________________________________________________________
False accusations. Many cyberstalkers try to damage the reputation of their victim and turn other people against them.
Attempts to gather information about the victim. Cyberstalkers may approach their victim's friends, family and work colleagues to obtain personal information. They may advertise for information on the Internet, or hire a private detective. They often will monitor the victim's online activities and attempt to gather more information about their victims.
Encouraging others to harass the victim. Many cyberstalkers try to involve third parties in the harassment. They may claim the victim has harmed the stalker or his/her family in some way, or may post the victim's name and telephone number in order to encourage others to join the pursuit.
False victimization. The cyberstalker will claim that the victim is harassing him/her. Bocij writes that this phenomenon has been noted in a number of well-known cases.
Attacks on data and equipment. They may try to damage the victim's computer by sending viruses.
Ordering goods and services. They order items or subscribe to magazines in the victim's name. These often involve subscriptions to pornography or ordering sex toys then having them delivered to the victim's workplace.
Arranging to meet. Young people face a particularly high risk of having cyberstalkers try to set up meetings between them.
After reviewing this information, I found that my cyberstalkers match four of the criteria above. Since I know one of the people involved I understand what is happening. I have been told that the reason for my being stalked may be jealousy over my novel and probably hate.
Here is what I put together that pertained to my cyberstalking. (If you are being cyberstalked write up your cyberstalkers characteristics in the same manor to determine the severity.)
Attempts to gather information about the victim: My cyberstalkers monitor everything that I write and gather as much information as they can, then they twist what I written into sick and perverted things and they use their front-man to make the False accusations, causing me much stress. This has been going on for nearly a year now with no end in sight. The lies just keep getting bigger and now include lies about my wife and daughter.
Encouraging others to harass the victim: They have in a way encouraged others to get involved, although it has not worked out as well as the Cyber stalkers planned. My friends know me and stand by me. Some people have believed the lies but are not involved in the cyberstalking. This is when you find out who your real friends are.
False victimization: The Cyberstalkers front-man has made the false accusation that “I have threatened him”. As if……
Arranging to meet: In my case I wanted the meet to try to get this person to stop the lies and attacks. We met, he made more lying accusations; after his hidden cyberstalkers, stalked me to Twitter. He claimed that I use foul language on Twitter regularly including the F bomb. I welcome anyone to go to Twitter and find the facts. I go under the name KnorraSky on Twitter.
This person has stated that nothing illegal is being done. However looking into this further and I found this to be incorrect. If you are being cyberstalked read this carefully!
Lambèr Royakkers writes that: "Stalking is a form of mental assault, in which the perpetrator repeatedly, unwantedly, and disruptively breaks into the life-world of the victim… with motives that are directly or indirectly traceable to the affective sphere. Moreover, the separated acts that make up the intrusion cannot by themselves cause the mental abuse, but do taken together (cumulative effect).
“Although online harassment and threats can take many forms, cyberstalking shares important characteristics with offline stalking. Many stalkers - online or off - are motivated by a desire to exert control over their victims and engage in similar types of behavior to accomplish this end.”
I do feel this applies to my situation. It is about control.
But what should I do about it? Or what should you do if you are being cyberstalked?
After doing extensive research I found that each state has different laws and ways of deal with Cyberstalking. From a national cyberstalking site I found this advice.
“While some conduct involving annoying or menacing behavior might fall short of illegal stalking, such behavior may be a prelude to stalking and violence and should be treated seriously.” “Given the enormous amount of personal information available through the Internet, a cyberstalker can easily locate private information about a potential victim with a few mouse clicks or key strokes”
“The fact that cyberstalking does not involve physical contact may create the misperception that it is more benign than physical stalking. This is not necessarily true . As the Internet becomes an ever more integral part of our personal and professional lives, stalkers can take advantage of the ease of communications as well as increased access to personal information. In addition, the ease of use and non-confrontational, impersonal, and sometimes anonymous nature of Internet communications may remove disincentives to cyberstalking. Put another way, whereas a potential stalker may be unwilling or unable to confront a victim in person or on the telephone, he or she may have little hesitation sending harassing or threatening electronic communications to a victim. Finally, as with physical stalking, online harassment and threats may be a prelude to more serious behavior, including physical violence.”
Up to this point I was not too worried, what can they do to me beside harass me and cause me some sleepless nights? The above made me realize that people like this can become dangerous.
In my victimization, the front-man brings the false accusations to people we mutually know, after others who remain hidden, have cyberstalked me. This is truly stressful. If you are a victim you understand what I am talking about.
If you are a victim of cyberstalking you may consider contacting you local police department for advice. If you have any emails or blog posts where threats or harassing statements have been made, gather them up and take them along. Also, look up the laws in your state and familiarize yourself with them. You will find that the police do not have the time to learn about every law on the books and if you can point out the more obscure laws that benefit you, this can be helpful.
Above all, do not become so discouraged that you begin to think of harming yourself. In many instances that is exactly what the cyberstalker is wanting. So do not give in. Know that you are not alone. There are many of us out here that are going through the same thing.
Each year over 100,000 cases of cyberstalking are reported to police in the U.S. alone. New laws are being crafted with stiffer penalties for those who commit this foolish crime. Yes Cyberstalkers, I said, a CRIME! It is a crime to cyberstalk people, no matter how you portray it.
What will I do about my cyberstalkers? Time will tell, but needless to say I am taking this seriously. I have many options open to me.
If you are a victim also, I recommend that you take it seriously. Cyberstalkers have something wrong in their personalities and they can easily turn from cyberstalking to violent acts. Protect yourself by letting others know and if you feel the need, go to the police.
Other things you can do to help.
Change your online identifiers and be cautious as to whom you give them to. It is best to add only a few friends at a time to your friends list, or even one at a time. That way if your cyberstalker is someone you know, you may be able to figure it out.
If you have a myspace or facebook account. consider changing your setting to private. That way your cyberstalker will not be able to track you freely.
If you are getting threatening or harassing emails from you cyberstalker, save them and turn them into the authorities. Emails can be tracked in most instances.
Above all, if you do not know your cyberstalker do not meet with them . Even if you planed to take a friend to meet them, you can be in danger if you are outnumbered or the person is truly dangerous.
Talking to police along, that is the way to go about it if you feel you must meet the person, but talk with your local police about that before you decide anything.
US Federal Anti-Cyber-Stalking law is 47 USC sec. 223
After the Megan Meier suicide case of 2006 Missouri revised its state harassment statutes to include stalking and harassment by telephone and electronic communications as well as cyber-bullying.
Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, and New York have included prohibitions against harassing electronic, computer or e-mail communications in their harassment legislation.
Texas enacted the Stalking by Electronic Communications Act, 2001.
A few states have both stalking and harassment statutes that criminalize threatening and unwanted electronic communications.
Other states have laws other than harassment or anti-stalking statutes that prohibit misuse of computer communications and e-mail, while others have passed laws containing broad language that can be interpreted to include cyberstalking behaviors
Cyberstalking has also been addressed in recent U.S. federal law. For example, the Violence Against Women Act, passed in 2000, made cyberstalking a part of the federal interstate stalking statute. Still, there remains a lack of legislation at the federal level to specifically address cyberstalking, leaving the majority of legislative prohibitions against cyberstalking at the state level.
Cyberstalking – Is it Covered by Current Anti-Stalking Laws? by Craig Lee and Patrick Lynch
Fighting Cyberstalking - http://www.jahitchcock.com/cyberstalked/skippress.htm