Cyberstalking, defined as the use of technology to intimidate and control someone, has emerged as a modern form of domestic violence. It involves the repeated use of technology, such as email, cell phones, or social media, to instill fear and concern for one’s safety in the victim. Various forms of cyber abuse include stalking/harassment, sextortion, denigration, device access, and outing/doxxing.
Corporal John Rosado of the Savannah Police Department highlights the long-lasting emotional and psychological effects that victims of cyberbullying and cyberstalking can experience. These effects may include stress, anxiety, paranoia, and other contributing factors.
It is important to note that cyberstalking is not only invasive but also a felony offense. The Stalking Prevention Awareness and Resource Center has found that stalking increases the risk of domestic homicide by three times. However, only 29% of cyberstalking incidents are reported, leaving law enforcement unable to take protective action in the absence of a paper trail.
To regain control, victims are advised not to engage with their stalkers and to take measures such as changing passwords, protecting online profiles, and documenting incidents with dates, times, and details. Reporting the abuse to websites, police, and the FBI is crucial. Victims can also seek a Temporary Order of Protection (TPO) to empower themselves and hold abusers accountable.
Online platforms designed to capture online predators, such as the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and Victims Voice, offer support and resources for victims. Following one’s intuition is emphasized by Special Agent Sara Lue of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, as it can help identify potentially dangerous situations.
It is essential to remember that abuse is never the fault of the victim, and assistance is available. Organizations such as SAFE Shelter, Safe Haven, Hopeful Horizons, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline provide support and resources for those affected by domestic violence.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-7233