What is it?
Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harrass a person. This term is generally synonymous with online harassment or online abuse.
Reactions of fear, anxiety, confusion, hopelessness and other feelings can emerge as a result of cyberstalking. As disturbing as these feelings may be, and surprising as this might seem, these are normal reactions to the crime.
The following features or combinations of features can be considered to characterize a true stalking situation:
- Malice: desire and intent to harm
- Premeditation: planning and organization
- Repetition: more than a single isolated incident
- Distress: causing the victim to feel fear
- Obsession: activity does not stop, despite warnings
- Vendetta: the stalker seeks revenge
- No legitimate purpose: intended solely to terrorize
- Personally directed: you and you alone are the target
- Disregarded warnings to stop: despite clear and direct action
- Harassment: repeated unsolicited contact, causing emotional distress
- Threats: statements made in order to place a person in reasonable fear for his or her physical safety
Click here for more detailed definitions of these terms from WiredSafety.org.
Types of cyberstalker
This is the most common type of cyberstalker. It is typically a person who refuses to believe that a relationship is over, despite having been told repeatedly that it is.
It's easy to presume that the stalker is simply harmlessly in love. However, it is important to remember that many of them have been emotionally abusive during the relationship and may even have a criminal record unrelated to stalking.
This type of stalker frequently has never had any direct contact with the victim. They may suffer from mental illness like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or erotomania. What they generally have is a false belief that keeps them tied to their victims. Another type of delusional stalker may believe that he/she and the victim are destined to be together. They may believe that only a significantly impressive act can make the victim see the bond they supposedly share.
The vengeful stalker gets angry at their victim due to some offense, either real or imagined. They stalk to "get even" and believe that they have been victimized. Ex-spouses and disgruntled employees can turn into this type of stalker and violence can result.
Click here for more information on what motivates cyberstalkers from WiredSafety.org.