If you were to ask anyone, they could give you a pretty good idea of what stalking is. You may in fact find that you have people close to you that have actually had a stalker before, whether it was small or intense. However, when you bring up stalking people think straight to what’s attributed to movies which may include: following, constant phone calls, breaking and entering, etc. Another form of stalking that has grown in the last few years, attributed with the advancement of technology, is cyberstalking.
Cyberstalking is defined as the repeated use of electronic communications to harass or frighten someone. This includes: sending threatening or abusive emails, repeated contact through social media, hacking into private accounts, installing malware, posting false or slanderous accusations online, and encouraging others to harass the victim. The internet has only been around since ’91 and since then there have been thousands of confirmed cases of cyberstalking. What makes cyberstalking so dangerous is that in the different ways to be stalked, you may not even know you’re being stalked for weeks, maybe even months. Cyber stalkers tend to be people who have good knowledge about the mechanics of computers and have learned how to operate undetected. People tend to feel safest at home and that’s what they prey on, because who thinks they’re at risk in their own bedroom?
Cassidy Wolf was a Miss Teen USA winner from California who felt the same way. Incredibly, she was cyberstalked for a year before she found out what was happening. Jared James Abrahams was the culprit and had installed a program on her computer which made it possible for him to see everything she did through her laptop camera. He was able to take nude pictures of her and threatened to send them to everyone if she didn’t do what he said. In 2013, James S. Allen used the internet and his cell phone and stalked eighteen girls by obtaining their email addresses and taking over their accounts. Some of these girls were minors as well. Republican Activist Adam Savader was also an offender in 2012, hacking into fifteen women’s online accounts threatening to release nude photos if they didn’t send him more.
In many cases it looks as though the offender barely knows the victim but that is not true. Joe Good was in a relationship with Tawny Blazejowski for over three years when he decided to call it off. After the breakup, he found out she had hacked into his accounts and even sent a nude picture to his boss, causing him to lose his job after twenty-four years. She also reported him as a pedophile so his kids would be taken away. Even we he ended up getting involved with another girl, she even went as far as threatening to cause harm to her kids if she stayed with him. Linda Lowen was attempting to pump gas when she found out she was a victim. Her card was declined, and when she checked into it all her credit cards were closed and money was taken out of the account. It turns out her ex-boyfriend, from a relationship which ended because of it being abusive, had taken over her life. He knew everything about her, including passwords and personal details that would make it easy for him to ruin her life. She lost her ability to work, couldn’t move, get a car, and lost her good credit history. She even admitted to at one point losing her will to live.
Then you have the cases that end in tragedy. Tyler Clementi jumped off a bridge into the Hudson River. Clementi had just come out as being gay and his roommate broadcasted a sexual encounter of his live after rigging the room with a webcam. Megan Meier was only thirteen when she hung herself.
Cyberstalking is scary, but there are different things you can do in order to help prevent it. These include doing things like: using pen names instead of full names, placing social media profiles on private, never revealing your location, never posting personal details like addresses or phone numbers, blocking people immediately when they make you feel uncomfortable, and using password management systems for your computer. Knowledge will forever be your best bet to protect yourself. Always be thinking and stay focused because these people are the kind that try and capitalize on a slip off so always stay alert.