Cyber Stalking

WARNING: Anyone can track your computer activity. If you are in danger,
please call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE). 
Consider using a safer computer such as one from the library or a friend's house.

As much as technology has changed society, abusers’ tactics are the same--abusing power to gain and maintain control in their relationships.  But everyday more advanced technologic tools make stalking easier and more effective. The increasingly affordable and available variety of phones, surveillance, and computer technologies provide a wide array of dangerous tools for abusers to use to harass, intimidate, and stalk their current and former intimate partners.  Some abusers install global positioning systems (GPS) to track their victim’s real-time location with extraordinary accuracy, while others use telephones to leave hundreds of messages in a single day.  Other stalkers use technologies like Caller ID during a relationship to monitor their partner’s calls, and to locate her after she has fled. Still others use online databases, electronic records, and web search engines to locate, track, and harass former partners.

Although there is no universally accepted definition of cyberstalking, the term is generally used to refer to the use of the Internet, e-mail, or other telecommunication technologies to harass or stalk another person. It is not the mere annoyance of unsolicited e-mail. It is methodical, deliberate, and persistent. The communications, whether from someone known or unknown, do not stop even after the recipient has asked the sender to cease all contacts, and are often filled with inappropriate, and sometimes disturbing, content. Essentially, cyberstalking is an extension of the physical form of stalking.

In order to address cyberstalking, it is critical to understand stalking in general. In many cases, cyberstalking is simply another phase in an overall stalking pattern, or it is regular stalking behavior using new technological tools. Therefore, strategies and interventions that have been developed to respond to off-line stalking can often be adapted to on-line stalking situations. There are federal, state, and local criminal justice agencies which have begun to focus on stalking, and some have recently developed special task forces to deal with cyberstalking.  If you are being “cyber-stalked” contact your local law enforcement agency or you can check out some of the websites below for more information on how to protect yourself against cyber-stalking.