With technology constantly advancing, abusers have new ways to harass, intimidate and monitor their partner. Cyberstalking/cyber harassment is a newer concept that has taken stalking to a new level. Essentially, cyberstalking/harassment is digital abuse that turns obsessive. Cyberstalking can happen through various forms of communication such as: email, social media and text messaging. Abuse and cyberstalking are often linked. Cyberstalking allows for the abuser to either constantly monitor their partner or to harass. Often, the intention is to do both.
National figures show victims of cyberstalking tend to be females during the college ages 18-29. More than one million women and 370,000 men are stalked annually in the United States.
Many abusers are extremely tech-savvy and use apps that can even spoof their number, so if their number is blocked, they are still able to continue to harass their partner. Additionally, abusers may even track their partner by using a GPS device, or even using the location option on cell phones.
Some abusers will use apps and tech programs that are advertised as a way for parents to keep up with their children. However, abusers use these programs/apps to control and put fear into their partners. Some of these apps/programs are very easy to disguise and are therefore hard to detect. For more information on these apps, we recommend these resources.
Survivors of domestic violence are the most vulnerable population to stalking. When it comes to intimate partner violence and cyberstalking, the abusive partner is unable to let go of the fact that the relationship has ended. Or, this is their way of continuing to exert their control over their partner during the relationship. A lot of the time, victims may feel helpless when they are the target(s) of cyberstalking. Although cyberstalking is a new phenomenon, there are steps you can take if you are being cyberstalked. Many states have cyberbullying laws, that include “cyberbullying” or “electronic harassment.” Additionally, harassment laws are statewide. If you are a victim of cyberstalking, your state’s harassment law may help you take legal action.
It’s important that if you are a victim of cyberstalking, you turn your location off on all your electronic devices. Proving harassment is not always easy, so the more evidence you have, the stronger your case will be. If you believe that your partner/ex-partner has access to your phone, email or other accounts, the first thing you may want to do is to change all passwords (if you’re able to). If that is not an option, gather evidence and either print it out and keep it in a safe place, or give your evidence to a trusted individual. This way, if you are not ready to take action, the evidence will be there when you are ready.
There is nothing romantic about being stalked. Any form of stalking can become extremely dangerous.
Hopeful Horizons is here to answer any questions, assist in creating a safety plan, and offers counseling for survivors of cyberstalking/harassment. Call us at 800-868-2632 if you need help.