Forms of Cyber Stalking
Cyber stalking takes on many forms which may include sending victims harassing or threatening emails and text messages and/or posting personal, false or humiliating information on social media. In some cases these perpetrators may send viruses, spam attacks, and harmful programs via e-mail to compromise or destroy the victim’s computer. Even more ominous are cyber stalkers who intend to locate and confront their victim by obtaining personal information such as home and work addresses and phone numbers.
Scope of the Problem
The Department of Justice reports that 6.6 million people are victims of stalking in the United States. More than 25% of stalking victims, report that they were harassed on the internet during their lifetime. Most of these victims experienced significant anxiety or fear and believed that they or someone close to them could be harmed or killed. Most victims know the person stalking them. However, some stalkers fantasize or harbor grudges against public figures or celebrities they have never personally met.
Types of Cyber Stalkers
Cyber stalkers present mental health problems that vary from irrational anger to psychosis. They range from people who are angry ex-partners who feel unfairly rejected to more seriously disturbed individuals who are compulsive, vengeful, or delusional. The motivation for these crimes is to control, intimidate or influence the victim. The harmful effects of cyber stalking most commonly include severe emotional distress and damage to one’s reputation. In serious cases physical, sexual, and fatal assaults have been reported.