Internet Stalking

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Repeated, persistent unwanted communications

Internet Stalking

By Brent MacLean

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Lately the news has been littered with cases of internet stalkers who hunt down, assault and even kill their victims. According to the National Institute of Justice annually 1.4 million American are victims of stalking. As a security specialist, I am often called upon to research and investigate internet related stories. I can say with certainty that most victims of stalkers never report their cases to the authorities. Moreover, there are factors that help contribute to a stalker's obsession; and, there are ways that everyone can participate in helping to ensure that the internet is safe for all. Using my experience as a security specialist, I will endeavour to detail this article with the signs you can look for; and, how you can stop internet stalkers.

Understand Stalking

Stalking is defined as repeated and persistent unwanted communications and/or approaches that produce fear in the victim.

Understand the Stalker Subtypes

According to the Psychiatric Times, they described five stalker subtypes:

  • The Rejected respond to an unwelcome end to a close relationship by actions intended to lead to reconciliation, an extraction of reparation from the victim or both. For the stalker, the behavior maintains some semblance of continued contact and relationship with the victim.
  • The Intimacy Seekers pursue someone they have little, if any, relationship with in the mistaken belief that they are loved, or inevitably will be loved, by the victim. The stalking satisfies needs for contact and closeness while feeding fantasies of an eventual loving relationship.
  • The Incompetent are would-be suitors seeking a partner. Given their ignorance or indifference to the usual courting rituals, they use methods that are, at best, counterproductive and, at worst, terrifying. The stalking provides an approximation of finding a partner.
  • The Resentful respond to a perceived insult or injury by actions aimed not just at revenge but at vindication. The stalking is the act of vengeance.
  • The Predatory pursue their desires for sexual gratification and control. The stalking is a rehearsal for the stalker's violent sexual fantasies and a partial satisfaction of voyeuristic and sadistic desires.
  • Know Your Environment

    Even outside of the virtual world, knowing your environment is rule number one. On the internet, it is even more important.

    Greg Watkins the CEO/Founder of the most popular message board on the net, Greg said, "Internet safety is very important. You never know who is on the other side of the computer. It is important to take precautions."

    Protecting Yourself from an Internet Stalker

    The internet can be a great place to meet new and interesting people, voice your opinions, do research for work or school and even to make money.

    Michelle M. Garcia, Senior Program Associate for the Stalking Resource Center at the National Center for Victims of Crime, said, "It is important to increase public awareness about stalking. Many people do not know that they can get a restraining order and contact an attorney."

    In doing research on internet safety, I have found that most people do not realize that they don't "deserve to be stalked". That is, most people have a misconception and think that if a person has a web site, is a celebrity or a public official then they are just asking to be a stalker's victim.

    The bottom line is that we need to keep ourselves safe and understand our rights as internet users. No one has the right to stalk you or threaten you. Our legal system will continue to support this vantage point.

    Know Your Rights

    Perhaps the saddest thing about most North Americans is that we don't always know the law. Many people think that there is nothing that they can do to stop a stalker. Even more people think "people on the internet can do/say what ever they want to you". We will be doing a follow up article on knowing the law and the Internet and what you need to know and why.

    But, stalking is a legal form of harassment and is against the law. So, it important to know that the law is available to protect you from any stalker or someone hounding you and your "virtual " identity. If you even suspect that someone is stalking you, don't wait until it escalates. Contact the authorities immediately. The information is out there, so get educated quickly.

    Take your evidence to your attorney's office right away and file a restraining order. And finally according to the Psychiatric Times, "Stalking is often associated with other forms of harassment, such as ordering goods on the victim's behalf, sending unsolicited materials and initiating spurious legal actions (Mullen et al., 1999). Stalking intrudes on the victim's privacy and evokes a fear of violence. Such fears are justified, as threats, property damage and assault occur all too frequently in association with stalking."

    Remember, you have the right to surf the internet free from stalkers. So stay informed, get educated and start learning what you can do and what you should not do. Safe surfing.

    Canada Free Press, CFP Editor Judi McLeod