What is the greatest length someone has gone to spy on you?
Online harassment is not child’s play!
Although there are frequent reports of people being tormented by stalkers, most of your “average, everyday” folks go through life without being unknowingly pursued. Or do they?
An article by Ron Gil published on About.com referenced the University of Bedfordshire’s Electronic Communication Harassment Observation Study. The results were alarming. Cyberstalking is now more common that physical abuse. So for every domestic violence case you hear about, read about, or see documented, there are MORE victims of this new form of abuse. Cyberstalking is not to be confused with cyberbullying, which has recently received more media coverage due to teen-related acts of internet aggravation.
What exactly is cyberstalking? It is defined as a very serious form of online harassment. It involves the sending of repeated annoying and unwelcome messages. But cyberstalking goes far beyond cyberbullying in terms of motivations and tactics. Cyberstalking involves a disturbed obsession with the target, and a perverse desire to control that target in some way, even by attacking the target’s family members. Cyberstalkers do not wish to just torment someone for an adolescent power rush… stalkers want to force the target into some kind of submission, and are willing to involve other targets to achieve that disturbed result.
Mr. Gil goes on to explain that most cyberstalkers commonly have four objectives, including manipulating their prey. (Their prey could include the target, the target’s family, friends, and coworkers.) Cyberstalkers range from ex-significant others or someone you went to high school with to a coworker or a complete stranger. In the end, cyberstalkers are regular people with very irregular psychological problems.
I am pretty active online. Aside from this blog, I manage several social media pages and websites as well as my personal pages. I enjoy engaging in conversations, sharing helpful tips, and using it for business marketing. I have even met some great friends through Twitter. I have always been a supporter of social communities, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I encountered my first cyberstalker. But I was completely shocked.
I know my stalkers. And they know me. What I do not know is how long this has been going on. I remember an incident that may have triggered it, which happened in 2011, but in hindsight the spying may have taken place prior to that. There were far too many ambiguous tweets and Facebook posts to count. I confronted my stalkers on multiple occasions and of course they denied that their comments were directed toward me. Over time, their disguised backtalk became so childish and bad-mannered that I decided to stop following/unfriend them. In turn, they chose to block me. I thought that my worries were over. Unfortunately, it was just the beginning.
Over the next 16 months, I made no attempt to contact these individuals but have received random text messages from one of them. It did no good to try to converse with her. The texts were far more discourteous than any public comment had been. It was obvious that she was simply trying to pick a fight or cause problems. I stopped responding, hoping the messages would stop. They didn’t. I also found out about slanderous accusations that were being made by the stalkers toward me. One stalker even attempted multiple requests to re-followed me on Twitter and I eventually had to block both of them. I would occasionally hear from other friends who still communicated with the couple on social media that the cryptic tweets continued.
Last week, I was followed by a “new Twitter user” that was pretty suspicious to me. The account had no location, no bio, a generic profile pic, and only a handful of followers. When I glanced to see how they may know me, I saw that they were following several of my friends and other accounts. I probably would have never given it a second thought, but the person responded to a tweet I had written about the new computer systems at work. Their comment was very vague and had grammatical errors that I have only seen my cyberstalkers use! Minutes later, it was confirmed that this fake account was IN FACT created by and ran by my cyberstalkers. And they weren’t just spying on me, but several of my friends as well.
I knew they had no idea that I had figured them out, but I still chose to block the account. I have been monitoring this account over the past couple of days. It is so disturbing to see my stalkers carrying on conversations WITH THEIR OWN TWITTER ACCOUNTS in an effort to hide behind this facade. I simply cannot believe the lengths to which cyberstalkers will go.
And there is a part of me that feels really sad for these stalkers and their psychological state. And I think about how much better the world would be if the time and effort taken to do bad, would be done for good instead.
My last resort to rectify this on my own is this blog. After many attempts to end this, requests to be left alone, and actions taken by me to prevent further contact, I fear legal action is the only conceivable next step. I have enough evidence to firmly stand my ground. However, I am simply asking for them to forget my friends and I ever existed. I just want this ridiculousness to end.
If you have ever been in this predicament and can share advice, please comment below publicly or email me privately.
If you are currently in this situation, please read Ron Gil’s article for more information and/or research legal actions in your state to protect yourself.
No one should be belittled, disrespected, or patronized because of someone else’s insecurities or condition.