If you are a victim of stalking of ANY KIND, try to gather as much physical evidence as possible and document each contact.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

If you are a Victim of Cyberstalking, via the National Center for Victims of Crime

  • A U.S. Department of Justice report estimates that there may be tens or even hundreds of thousands of cyberstalking victims in the United States (Report on Cyberstalking, 1999).
  • A 1997 nationwide survey conducted by the University of Cincinnati found that almost 25% of stalking incidents among college age women involved cyberstalking (Report on Cyberstalking, 1999).


Cyberstalking can be defined as threatening behavior or unwanted advances directed at another using the Internet and other forms of online and computer communications.


Cyberstalking is a relatively new phenomenon. With the decreasing expense and thereby increased availability of computers and online services, more individuals are purchasing computers and "logging onto" the Internet, making another form of communication vulnerable to abuse by stalkers.
Cyberstalkers target their victims through chat rooms, message boards, discussion forums, and e-mail. Cyberstalking takes many forms such as: threatening or obscene e-mail; spamming (in which a stalker sends a victim a multitude of junk e-mail); live chat harassment or flaming (online verbal abuse); leaving improper messages on message boards or in guest books; sending electronic viruses; sending unsolicited e-mail; tracing another person's computer and Internet activity, and electronic identity theft.
Similar to stalking off-line, online stalking can be a terrifying experience for victims, placing them at risk of psychological trauma, and possible physical harm. Many cyberstalking situations do evolve into off-line stalking, and a victim may experience abusive and excessive phone calls, vandalism, threatening or obscene mail, trespassing, and physical assault.

Cyberstalking and the Law

With personal information becoming readily available to an increasing number of people through the Internet and other advanced technology, state legislators are addressing the problem of stalkers who harass and threaten their victims over the World Wide Web. Stalking laws and other statutes criminalizing harassment behavior currently in effect in many states may already address this issue by making it a crime to communicate by any means with the intent to harass or alarm the victim.
States have begun to address the use of computer equipment for stalking purposes by including provisions prohibiting such activity in both harassment and anti-stalking legislation (Riveira, 1,2). A handful of states, such as Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire and New York have specifically including prohibitions against harassing electronic, computer or e-mail communications in their harassment legislation. Alaska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and more recently, California, have incorporated electronically communicated statements as conduct constituting stalking in their anti-stalking laws. A few states have both stalking and harassment statutes that criminalize threatening and unwanted electronic communications. Other states have laws other than harassment or anti-stalking statutes that prohibit misuse of computer communications and e-mail, while others have passed laws containing broad language that can be interpreted to include cyberstalking behaviors (Gregorie).

> Recent federal law has addressed cyberstalking as well. The Violence Against Women Act, passed in 2000, made cyberstalking a part of the federal interstate stalking statute. Other federal legislation that addresses cyberstalking has been introduced recently, but no such measures have yet been enacted. Consequently, there remains a lack of legislation at the federal level to specifically address cyberstalking, leaving the majority of legislative prohibitions against cyberstalking at the state level (

If you are a Victim of Cyberstalking

  • Victims who are under the age of 18 should tell their parents or another adult they trust about any harassments and/or threats.
  • Experts suggest that in cases where the offender is known, victims should send the stalker a clear written warning. Specifically, victims should communicate that the contact is unwanted, and ask the perpetrator to cease sending communications of any kind. Victims should do this only once. Then, no matter the response, victims should under no circumstances ever communicate with the stalker again. Victims should save copies of this communication in both electronic and hard copy form.
  • If the harassment continues, the victim may wish to file a complaint with the stalker's Internet service provider, as well as with their own service provider. Many Internet service providers offer tools that filter or block communications from specific individuals.
  • As soon as individuals suspect they are victims of online harassment or cyberstalking, they should start collecting all evidence and document all contact made by the stalker. Save all e-mail, postings, or other communications in both electronic and hard-copy form. If possible, save all of the header information from e-mails and newsgroup postings. Record the dates and times of any contact with the stalker.
  • Victims may also want to start a log of each communication explaining the situation in more detail. Victims may want to document how the harassment is affecting their lives and what steps they have taken to stop the harassment.
  • Victims may want to file a report with local law enforcement or contact their local prosecutor's office to see what charges, if any, can be pursued. Victims should save copies of police reports and record all contact with law enforcement officials and the prosecutor's office.
  • Victims who are being continually harassed may want to consider changing their e-mail address, Internet service provider, a home phone number, and should examine the possibility of using encryption software or privacy protection programs. Any local computer store can offer a variety of protective software, options and suggestions. Victims may also want to learn how to use the filtering capabilities of email programs to block e-mails from certain addresses.
  • Furthermore, victims should contact online directory listings such as,, and to request removal from their directory.
  • Finally, under no circumstances should victims agree to meet with the perpetrator face to face to "work it out," or "talk." No contact should ever be made with the stalker. Meeting a stalker in person can be very dangerous.

Potential Effects of Cyberstalking

Just because cyberstalking does not include physical contact with the perpetrator does not mean it is not as threatening or frightening as any other type of crime. Victims of cyberstalking often experience psychological trauma, as well as physical and emotional reactions as a result of their victimization. Some of these effects may include:
  • changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • nightmares
  • hypervigilance
  • anxiety
  • helplessness
  • fear for safety
  • shock and disbelief
Victims experiencing these reactions and many others might consider seeking out support from friends, family and victim service professionals in order to cope with the trauma resulting from cyberstalking. In order to locate local victim service professionals that may be able to offer assistance, safety suggestions, and information and referrals, please contact the Helpline of the National Center for Victims of Crime at 1-800-FYI-CALL, 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, Eastern Standard Time.
The reality is that both cyberstalking and physical stalking can lead to a physical attack. Always get help quickly, document all stalking incidents and take precautions to protect yourself.

Understanding the Serious Crime of Stalking

Understanding the Serious Crime of Stalking

January 4th, 2012 Posted by Tracy Russo

 The following post appears courtesy of Susan B. Carbon, Director of the Office on Violence Against Women

The Office on Violence Against Women proudly joins the President in recognizing January as National Stalking Awareness Month (NSAM).  Stalking is described by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics  as, “a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear for his or her safety or the safety of someone close such as a family member.”

President Obama again this year speaks to the gravity of stalking and its impact on victims in his proclamation:

     “In our schools and in our neighborhoods, at home and in workplaces across our Nation, stalking endangers the physical and emotional well-being of millions of American men and women every year. Too often, stalking goes unreported and unaddressed, and we must take action against this unacceptable abuse.  This month, we stand with all those who have been affected by stalking and strengthen our resolve to prevent this crime before it occurs.”

Education is the first crucial step in recognizing and preventing this crime, and reporting it when it occurs so that offenders may be properly held accountable for their dangerous behavior.

Earlier this month, the United States Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its first National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS).  The report reveals that stalking is a serious issue.  NISVS data shows that:

    Nearly one in six women has experienced stalking so severe that she felt very fearful or believed that she or someone close to her would be harmed or killed.
    One in 19 men has experienced the same level of stalking.
    Women were particularly likely to be stalked by a current or former intimate partner.

Stalking behaviors can include seemingly innocuous acts, such as making unwanted phone calls; sending unsolicited or unwanted letters or emails; or leaving unwanted items, presents or flowers, but when taken together, and when feared by the victim, may constitute a criminal act.  Other forms of stalking include following or spying on the victim; showing up without a legitimate reason at places where the victim is likely to be; waiting at places for the victim; and posting information or spreading rumors about the victim on the internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth.

Newer technologies, such as text messaging, emails, and electronic monitoring devices (including cameras and GPS), are also used by perpetrators to stalk victims.  Stalking is also frequently a precursor to much more serious, and sometimes lethal, acts.   In fact, 76 percent of female intimate partner murder victims had been stalked by their partners prior to their death.

Stalking is a crime across the country.  Despite the fact that millions are victimized each year, stalking remains a widely misunderstood and hidden crime and tends to go unreported. It is one of four crimes addressed in the Violence Against Women Act.

OVW is taking steps to ensure that we create secure and supportive communities for stalking survivors.  In 2000, we launched a partnership with the Stalking Resource Center of the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC).  The Stalking Resource Center provides training and technical assistance to enhance responses to stalking and is committed to collecting the best knowledge about stalking, including researching policy and tracking program success.

 The KNOW IT. NAME IT. STOP IT. awareness campaign is a call to action to maintain an ongoing dialogue, increase recognition of stalking as an important issue, and provide resources to those in need.

 In the words of President Obama:

    “Though stalking can occur in any community, shame, fear of retribution, or concerns that they will not be supported lead many victims to forego reporting the crime to the police.  As we strive to reverse this trend, we must do more to promote public awareness and support for survivors of stalking.”

During this month and throughout the year ahead, we are committed to spreading the word that stalking will not be tolerated.  For more information, please visit the Stalking Awareness Month website at:

 For more information about the Office on Violence Against Women, visit We remind all those in need of assistance, or other concerned friends and individuals, to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.