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The internet has become an essential part of our daily lives. And although it has many advantages and positive uses, there is, unfortunately, a dark side to the cyber world: cyber stalking and harassment.
Cyber stalking is using the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass a person, a group of people, or an organization. It can include a variety of activities such as false accusations or statements, making threats, identity theft, etc.
Cyber stalking and harassing has sadly become more and more common, with the vast majority of it targeted towards women. A new alarming study concluded cyber stalking has become more prevalent than real-world stalking. The psychological effects and scope is much greater and more insidious than face-to-face stalking and can turn a victim’s life completely upside down. And according to another study conducted by the Working to Halt Online Abuse (WHOA) organization, over half of cyber stalking victims in 2013 knew their stalker.
Perpetrators can hide their identities more easily online, and can harass victims continuously 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Perpetrators use a variety of methods including email, texts, phone calls, and social media. This type of harassment is relentless and ever-present. And all too often, victims feel like there is no safe haven or escape.
Women being cyber stalked live in perpetual fear of a faceless danger. This fear follows them everywhere. At home. At school. At work. It never ends. Slowly but surely, victims of cyber stalking are consumed by feelings of anxiety and stress, and their reputation, and overall sense of safety ultimately deteriorates.
This kind of stress causes absolute misery, affecting all areas of a victim’s life including but not limited to their mental health, work/school performance, and personal lives.
Here are a few valuable tips to protect you from Cyber Stalking:
• Limit sharing personal information on the internet especially your home address, email address, phone number, etc.
• Password protect all accounts with a complex password and change passwords frequently. When leaving a partner, reset all passwords immediately.
• Fully log out of all software and websites when leaving a computer, particularly if someone else has access to the computer or if it’s in a public place.
In case you missed it, click here to read the first article in the series. Check back next week to learn the role technology is playing in intimate partner violence.