Constantly being stalked on the online world has serious consequences for both victim and perpetrator.
Connor Bean Investigates the potential impact.
Using the internet on a daily basis may seem great but it has a dark side. Anyone online could find, follow and communicate with you on platforms such as Twitter making it a dangerous place.
Face to face stalking is now transitioning to the anonymous web. Cyberstalking is the repeated use of electronic communications to harass or frighten someone. Leading to increased paranoia, anxiety and depression for the victim and perpetrator. Felicia Donovan and Kristyn Bernier authors of Cyber Crime Fighters: Tales from the Trenches found 62% of cyberstalking victims are female.
Esther Lynn, a 42-year-old mature student, was cyberstalked in 2009 when she joined dating site Match.com. Her online stalker managed to find her home address on the internet. Leading to him coming to Esther’s house asking for a date. ‘He just wouldn’t leave me alone, I had to get the police involved.’ After police involvement, he finally left Esther alone.
Victims of Cyberstalking may also be stalkers. Esther confesses to stalking her boyfriend’s ex-wife’s Facebook profile. ‘I looked her up through sheer frustration.’ Esther didn’t like how she had stalked someone. ‘it only created more questions as I tried to make sense of what I saw compared to what I’d heard. I had to stop before I got too obsessed’.
Heather Stone, a 20-year-old student, is a victim and perpetrator of cyberstalking. She claims stalking is frowned upon in real life but online it has become normal. ‘In a click, I can find out so much on someone’s lives without knowing or speaking to them.’ Which can be damaging in terms of judging someone. Heather thinks everyone is guilty of ‘the occasional stalk online from time to time’. From both sides of cyberstalking she’s felt anxious, depressed, paranoid and isolated.
Jennifer Perry aged 50 and CEO of Digital-Trust, an organisation that supports sufferers of cyberstalking, believes it is destroying people’s lives. she said, ‘30% of stalking victims suffer post dramatic stress disorder (PTSD) forcing people to lose their jobs’. One case Jennifer dealt with saw a stalker google their victim over 40,000 times in one year.
Jennifer recommends avoiding Twitter because ‘it’s so open to everyone which could lead to total humiliation’. If you are being stalked online inform your friends and family. Restrict the stalker by making your online accounts private. ‘If you receive death threats don’t hesitate to contact the police immediately.’
Cyberstalking shouldn’t be neglected. Otherwise, it could be detrimental to your health.