Cyber-Stalking happens to MEN and Women!

Editors Note: I originally wrote this post on another blog, with the intent of letting men know that they too can be stalked and harassed. As I now have my “own” blog, I have decided to start

moving the various posts that I have all over the place to their new home. This particular post came from talking to and reading about how different men who were being stalked/cyber-stalked and the outrage I felt and still do by the way. The humanist in me felt that reaching out to the men who are going through this terrible situation is as important as reaching out to all women and talking about how to read the signs and learn how to handle, what can be a terrifying ordeal is necessary if we

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are to truly help and support those who need us. How does it feel to be stalked? I Dare you to take this lollipop test - then you tell me?

  This post starts out with a news story that happened in 2011….

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has obtained a temporary restraining order against a California man accused of stalking him, his girlfriend and his sister. Read the rest of the story about this stalking issue

The fact of life is that as more and more people are using the web, it is not just the rich and the famous who are being stalked and harassed and it is not just children who are having to deal with these terrible issues, but ordinary people like you also. It is a truism that as we use social networks more and more, we put ourselves at risk, letting our guard down, parting with so much information about ourselves, little realizing how that same information can be used against us, by those who feel hurt for whatever reason which can include family members or close friends, colleagues and lord forbid the “ex’s”. While women are still the main focus of stalking and harassment, men are also having to deal with the same issues and it can be down right scary! In some ways I feel that men do not get enough support nor help from people on these issues ( unless you are a Mark Zuckerberg) and so this post is for all the men who are going through this type of situation – oh and ladies, maybe these pointers will be of use to you as well. Many people tend to think of men being stalked like the movie “Play Misty for Me” ( 1971 movie with Clint Eastwood) and for some that might be the case, but there is a lot more going on in the digital world and in ways a lot more “deadlier”.     Just as women need to learn how to protect themselves, so do men so here are some tips to watch for. The first and the most important clue that there is something very wrong is when the stalker person pushes for information regarding your personal life, private life, or life away from the net! I have to be honest guys, it is one thing to chat with different people, to communicate and to even share “some” of your life, but when a person ( and it can be other guys) start pumping you for information and will NOT BACK DOWN when you politely tell them to stop..that should be a red flag for you to be super cautious!

Some signs to look for that this could be happening to you…. You keep getting emails from a person. They keeping wanting to know about you and what you are doing, but will NOT share any information about themselves. (RED FLAG) You have politely told a person to go away in an email and they keep mailing you on all kinds of topics and most of them are personal ( RED FLAG) You are on a social community like Twitter, Facebook and a person is constantly insulting you, challenging you or on the other side of the coin, they can be very helpful and very nice BUT they just don’t stop ( RED FLAG) You are on a community and that “person” is directing comments or suggestions directly at you..all the time! You feel singled out and uncomfortable ( RED FLAG)

While many people and guys this includes you, think that you can handle this situation, it never hurts to remind you that there are steps you should be taking to protect you and your family…. First off educate yourself! How do you know when it is harassment, cyber-stalking or just a person wanting to communicate According to Black’s Law dictionary Harassment is

“A course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress in such person and serves no legitimate purpose” or “Words, gestures, and actions which tend to annoy, alarm and abuse (verbally) another person.”

Cyberstalking is a focused kind of harassment and according to Department of Justice 1999 study defines it this way

the use of the Internet, e-mail, or other electronic communications devices to stalk another person. Stalking generally involves harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person’s property.” Cyber-stalkers frequently follow their targets around the net, frequenting in chat rooms, message boards, newsgroups or mailing lists in which the target participates. At times they will also attempt to form relationships with those who are friendly with the target in order to get more information about the target.

So what can you do?

1. Send the person a strong message “Do not contact me in any way in the future.”…trust me you wont have to explain and you don’t want to give any leeway for them to engage with you. 2. On most communities you can block people. USE the block button asap. If they find a way to message you, ignore them, do not respond in any manner to anything they might say. 3.Save everything that this person might be sending to you and that includes tweet, Facebook statuses etc. If they send emails, save them in a special folder. You may not think some of the things said are important, but they will build a picture of stalking/harassment. 4. Tell people that you trust -your best buddy, a family member, doctor about what is going on. Get their opinion and support. Stalkers are like bullies, they thrive on the power they have over you..lessen that power. 5. Contact a community administrator of a social site. Take the time to read the terms of service on any social site to get ideas or for help Twitter – Reporting an abusive user Facebook - Report Abusive Behavior 6. If you have taken all of the steps listed above and the abuse continues then notify your local local police department…and please don’t wait! Have I missed anything? Lets talk about this – you are not alone and Remember guys and gals , its is OK to protect yourself …. #justsaying

 

 

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16 Responses to “Cyber-Stalking happens to MEN and Women!”

  1. Susan Cooper says:

    First congratulation on joining the blogosphere.

    I found your post VERY informative. I have not had the challenge, but you just never know these day. I have bookmarketed this post in the event it does as a reference. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. :-)

    • Diane says:

      Well thank you Susan for visiting and I really hope that with this post, someone…even one person will be helped!
      I have been part of the blogosphere for a while by the way, I just was too dang lazy to have my own blog and preferred to guest blog or use over venues to blog…lol ( honest). I have also blogged for a company that I was involved in, which was fun and different and I am hoping to do that again at some point.
      I have updated a lot that is on this post as..life changes, so does information…ain’t that the truth? When I saw the lollipop test ( I dare you)…my eyes popped open and I actually took a breath ( which is not easy this moment as I have bronchitis) and it gave a good indication of how people can feel. I hope many readers will take the test…I feel it is very important to try to “walk in a “victim’s shoes (in a safe manner)

  2. Catarina says:

    It’s happened to me several times that men I don’t know, or have ever met, have fallen in love with me online (!). Personally find it sick, but it seems to be quite common. On top of it they can even be jealous!!! Unbelievable, isn’t it…

    The ONLY thing to do is ignore them completely. Mark their emails as spam and block their IP on your blog if necessary. But usually they give up after a couple of months if you just ignore them.

    • Diane says:

      I’m glad that you came here Catrina, not just to “comment”, but to let you know that you are not alone and that being stalked for what ever reason is wrong. I have known both men and women who have gone through this and the commonality is that it affects both genders in similar ways from shock and disbelief, to a feeling of helplessness, hypervigilance, anxiety and other such reactions.

      Cyber-stalking should never feel nor be “common” – it is a crime that needs to be dealt with in the same manner as physical stalking and is indeed now part of the justice system.

      I found a couple of resources that might be of use to you:
      The Stalking resource centre
      http://www.ncvc.org/src/Main.aspx
      and
      WHO@ ( working to Halt Online Abuse) http://www.haltabuse.org/

      If you are needing of help or support let me know.

  3. Catarina says:

    Thank you for your kindness Diane.

    Just wanted to show other people that it happened to me and that it’s no big deal.

    Unless of course you have posted documents with your address and other contact details online. Then you can have an unpleasant surprise.

    All the Asians sending me emails and messages on Linkedin wanting to work for me is as annoying. They haven’t even bothered to find out that at the moment I’m just blogging:-)

    • Diane says:

      You are very welcome Catarina, I just care ^-^ and I will say that your blog and the posts that you have written are very well done and informative to boot.

      I hope that you will keep coming back from time to time as I feel that as bloggers we need to support each other regardless of our niche.

  4. Good stuff Diane! I’m going to bookmark this page just in case! What I find disconcerting is not knowing how much of my personal information is out there. I’m online all the time for my work and I don’t know if I’m as cautious as I should be. But, I am very cautious with whom I talk to and the circles I travel in so hopefully that will help. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Diane says:

      when you come back here, I have a question for you. I know that you talk to and deal with aging ( abundantly) and I was wondering, do you feel that the baby boomers on the net are more likely to be stalked/cyber-stalked? I would love to hear your point of view

      • Kay Lorraine says:

        I am a first year baby boomer and I am being stalked. It never occurred to me that being a boomer would make me more susceptible.

        Kay in Hawaii

        • Diane says:

          I am going to answer this first and then I will go to your next comment. I feel that as baby boomers ( I am one as well), we are far too polite and civilized. We grew up in a different time, with different values and such things as being on the net had a different meaning. while we could hold our own in the “real” world, this virtual world is very different. We don’t have the same cues such as eye contact, tonal qualities, body language which helps us with that “fight or flight” impulse. In many ways, I think the older female is even more susceptible to being stalked for the reasons given and as baby boomers we were or I was taught…walk away and ignore, but the reality is that a stalker gets off on ANY perceived engagement and will never stop until they are stopped.

  5. Kay Lorraine says:

    Catarina, no wonder men fall in love with you online. You are beautiful. When you get to be my age, you won’t have this problem! LOL

    I have had an incident recently of a man who is doing a number of the things you describe in your article, Dianne. He posts personal comments directed to me in social media discussions. He is sometimes abusive and sometimes extremely complimentary. He has called my house once (my husband answered). I don’t know how he got my number but these days it’s not that difficult to find out just about anything you want on the internet. He occasionally sends me LinkedIn private messages and I always tell him that I am so busy I don’t have time to respond. Also, I have told him that it makes my husband uncomfortable so I make it a rule never to have any private communications with other men.

    I could get nasty with him but my feeling is that he is not mentally stable. It’s not a good idea to piss off the mentally unstable. (Big tip there!) So I just walk that line that every woman knows how to walk and hope that eventually he will tire of it an just go away. In the meantime, I am careful to never do anything that can be construed as leading him on. And I keep a careful paper trail of all of his communication so that if I ever need proof, I have it on hand.

    It’s a bummer!

    Kay in Hawaii

    • Diane says:

      now… did you notice what you said Kay? “no wonder men fall in love with you online. You are beautiful….” and yes I agree, why? because of the image and there should be nothing wrong with that, but to a stalker, their fantasies can turn a beautiful image into something that can harm.

      I feel that you are doing what many people do..they start to empathize with the stalker and give them excuses. The reality is that there is no excuse to stalk a person including being mentally ill. If you have said STOP..leave me alone and they do not listen and in fact go further to get close to you…phoning your home etc., then you need to stand up and do something. To me it is not a matter of being nasty and hoping they will go away, it is more a case of protecting yourself and your family and realizing that stalking and Cyber-stalking is a criminal offense. One can hope that if that person is stopped, then they will get the help they need.

      If the person who is stalking you on LinkedIn, via messages, then you can report the person within the message field as spam or you can flag it.

      I am shaking my head a little here as I see what I have written, it is not my intent to create stress, but to get you to understand the seriousness of what is happening.

      I hope that you will talk to others and regardless, I wish you all the best and if you need to talk, then I know many ( including myself) will be there for you.

      • Kay Lorraine says:

        Actually, I did notice what I said, Diane; it was called self-deprecating humor. I said that when Catarina gets to be my age she will not have so many men falling in love with her beauty. I am a person who tends to deal with pretty much everything with humor of some kind, often self-deprecating. It keeps me sane (sort of). In this instance, it was meant to be a compliment to Catarina (not that she needs it). But how sad and paranoid that we have gotten to a place in our society where a person cannot acknowledge how terrific and smart someone like Catarina is without having subtext read into it, don’t you agree?

        I do not think that I am empathizing with stalkers or giving them excuses. I am simply making an observation. The fact that unhinged people turn their fantasies of a beautiful image into something that can harm is neither Catarina’s fault nor the fault of someone like me who genuinely admires her. We can and should be careful, but we must not allow ourselves to live in constant fear or feel that we have to watch ever word.

        But enough about Catarina. Let’s talk about me!

        I appreciate your concern but you don’t need to worry about me, Diane. Really. I don’t know that this man is mentally ill. I just suspect from the stuff that I see him writing online that maybe the cheese is slipping off his cracker. So I am careful. One of the advantages I have is that I live thousands of miles across the ocean so I am somewhat insulated. Someone would have to get on a plane, spend a LOT of money and go a long way to get to me. Frankly, nobody really cares that much about me (That’s more of that self-deprecating humor.)

        You’re sweet to be concerned. I’ll control things myself until things reach a point at which I need to bring in outside help. As Catarina said, “Just wanted to show other people that it happened to me and that it’s no big deal.”

        Take care!

        • Diane says:

          Good morning Kay and your humor is something that I do understand, but it is one that I have not used in a very long time, let me get better and then I will be better at it :-)

          I have had to deal with stalkers as well as cyber-bullies ( or just bullies – if there is such a thing) for a while now in a work that I do and it floors me how far they will go and what they will do ( humor here) – it takes my breath away!

          You are correct that we should not have to live in paranoia and we should not have to hide ourselves in any manner, but for many, to keep safe, this is what they have to do….what a world we live in!

          For all the people who “know how to take care of themselves” there are many more who don’t and this post will hopefully bo of use to them…if this helps one person, I will feel thankful!

          oh..by the way… you are beautiful as well and I will catch up to the beauty part…again when I am feeling better…tada!

  6. Diane,
    Thanks so much for such an insightful post. This is a very real issue and you’ve offered some great advice. Thankfully, this has not been an issue for me. (I did take note of the link to the Stalking resource center that you mentioned in your comment to Catarina for future reference.)

    I think bottom line, it’s important for everyone to keep their personal information as private as possible. I’m appalled when I see Facebook profiles with email address, phone numbers and sometimes even home addresses.

    The other thing you mentioned that is critical, is to not engage with these people. Don’t even respond to emails. That acknowledges that you exist.

    Another frightening thought is posting pictures. Thanks to the GPS feature in our cell phones, (unless we take steps to prevent it), all of our photos are automatically tagged with the geographical location. This can be extremely dangerous if we’re posting photos with that information.

    Great conversation that you have going here Diane!

    • Diane says:

      Thanks sherryl, I am also appalled by what I see online, which is just one of the reasons for writing this post.

      When I originally created this post, it was in response to how many men who are stalked and how they seem to have issues with even talking about, but then I realized that this is important information for everyone!

      We still have this innocence when it comes to being on the World wide web and we need to get a lot more educated.

      I really want to thank you for coming in and voicing your thoughts and boy are they good ones.

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