Anyone can be a victim of stalking. As discussed in part 1, there are eight types of stalkers – love lost, resentful, predatory, intimacy seeker, casual acquaintance, stranger, serial and personal. The methods a stalker uses have evolved as technology has evolved. Today cyberstalking is the preferred method used by stalkers, and is even more common than physical harassment.
Cyberstalking occurs online, where the identity of the stalker can comfortably hide in cyberspace from the victim. An imbalanced person might use the Internet or other electronic means to harass, stalk or threaten an individual, group, or organization. They are often driven by feelings of inadequacy, revenge and unrequited love.
80% of Victims are Women
Typical cyberstalkers include:
- Ex-boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse
- High school friend
- Someone you dated online
- A buyer or seller online (i.e. eBay)
- A random social media “friend” (i.e. Facebook, Instagram)
The frightening thing about cyberstalking is how random it can be, with no association between the stalker and the victim other than chance targeting. In these types of cases it becomes harder to identify and prosecute since there is no logical link.
There is no control over whether you will become the victim of cyberstalking. However, there are ways to minimize the repercussions when targeted by a cyberstalker.
- Ask them to stop contacting you, then do not respond again
- Make sure the request to stop is not insulting or done in anger (otherwise the stalker will be encouraged to continue the behavior)
- Block contact with the stalker ASAP (i.e. unfriend in Facebook, block sender in email)
- Keep a record of all unwanted contact in both electronic and in a hard copy for the police
When these steps are taken, the cyberstalker often becomes uninterested and moves on to another target. If the stalker does not stop the attack, contact law enforcement. If the police cannot help because of local laws, contact national organizations for additional help such as:
Professional investigative firms are also a good option if the authorities are outside their jurisdiction to assist a target of cyberstalking. They have developed effective methods to retain and utilize any actions as evidence to build a case against the stalker. This is a great option for victims that cannot shake the attacker and need advanced help to build a case to stop the abuse once and for all.
Just because you are not currently a victim, this doesn’t mean you are immune to this type of crime. As I stated before, anyone can be a victim. Take steps to protect yourself by adopting habits to ensure you are not left wide-open to attack.
When interacting with potential strangers online follow these rules of thumb:
- Never reveal your home address online
- Proceed with caution in chat rooms and online dating services by remaining incognito
- Do not use suggestive usernames or “handles” during online communication
- Maximize privacy settings on all social channels (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
- Never give out your social security number unless absolutely sure about the reason
- Use secure passwords and change them often
- At work, always log off when leaving your computer unattended
These are just a few ways to ensure you don’t become a victim of cyberstalking. Use common sense and do not reveal too many personal details to the public.
Overall, if suspicious events start happening to you (i.e. alarming phone calls, strange online messages) be on alert and take precaution. If more than two incidents happen in one month, it is possible you have become a target of stalking. When something feels off, it probably is, so take action!
Timothy Dimoff Can Help Protect Against Cyberstalking
Anyone can be a victim of stalking and cyberstalking. Learn more about the options if you are a victim and everyday ways to prevent becoming a victim with the Tim’s Talk Stalking and Cyberstalking: Don’t be a Victim. The easiest way to schedule Tim is to fill out the Contact Tim form. He will contact you within two business days to discuss your presentation needs.