It’s no mystery that the internet isn’t safe for any of us. It is not uncommon to hear about cyberstalkers causing digital or online harassment. Improper use of social media can kill even real-life relationships. On top of that, making connections with strangers online can be dangerous and threatening. Now since we are talking about cyberstalking, we usually only think only women are the victims. But that’s not the case. Many men are victims of cyberstalkers. Digital stalking can end up in bad shape if neglected and not taken care of. These days one of the most common forms of harassment faced by many, perhaps including you too, is cyberstalking. Read on to know what is cyberbullying and cyberstalking, is cyberstalking a crime and how to deal with an online stalker.
What Is Cyberstalking?
Cyberstalking, online stalking, or stalking on social media can be defined as the willful and repeated following, watching, and/or harassing of a person without consent. Stalking can be harmful in the real-world as well as in a virtual world.
Recently, I conducted short research regarding people affected by unwanted messages and calls. The results were shocking. Every third person is troubled by unwanted texts or calls which are usually in a bad taste. shows how vulnerable we are to online stalking and harassment.
If you are a girl, go ahead and open your “Others” folder on Facebook and see the list of messages. Well, the good thing is, with technology, you can easily block someone troubling you online or through messages. But this doesn’t be helpful always. The stalker can switch numbers and continue harassing you.
Is Cyberstalking A Crime?
Cyberstalking is a criminal offense in many countries including but not limited to the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, and Philipines.
How to Stay Safe From Online/Cyber stalkers?
If it is the first time an unknown person is contacting you, the best you can do is ignore it. If you are being stalked online, initially you must stay away from responding in any way to any messages, regardless of how angry you become.
Just print them for evidence and leave the computer.
2. Increase Privacy
Check all your social media settings and the information that you have shared online. You can switch many things to ‘Private’ mode so that your sensitive data is not publicly available for everyone. For example:
- Lock Facebook profile for public access
- Do not share your phone number online
- Limit access to apps on mobile phones
- Make sure only friends are able to see your photos online, etc.
If you are suspicious and find anyone shady, go ahead and block them. On the other hand, some cyberstalkers irritate you by constantly sending over messages or emails, go ahead and block them too. Social networking sites like Facebook also offers the option to block someone.
4. Be stern in your reply
If the cyberstalker is an acquaintance to you, be stern and reply back asking him/her to stop messaging you. Warn them that you might end up reporting them if they don’t stop troubling you.
Be careful of the type of language you use to get your message across. Rude language may stir up more trouble.
So be stern but not rude!
5. Inform Family or Take Help
Talk to your near and dear ones about the cyberstalker and how this situation occurred. Ask for their help and seek a solution to stay safe from online stalking.
Suffering alone may stress you and its not good for your mental health.
If the person continues to trouble you through new ways, it’s best that you report them to concerned authorities. Remember, cyberstalking is a crime and must not be taken lightly.
7. Stay safe
Limit sharing your personal data online. Be careful while adding friends on social networks. If you don’t know them personally, do not add them to your friend list.
It is very important not to share your contact info with strangers.
For business purposes, you can always purchase and use a separate sim card. Find out where your info is being leaked and delete it from those sources.
Sometimes, if a relationship ends on a bad term, it can be harmful. Ex-Boyfriends or Girlfriends, who haven’t got proper closure and are not in a stable mind, can end up stalking you in the real world. They can keep track of your whereabouts and happenings. No, I am not scaring you,
I am just making you aware of the worst-case scenarios. Out of 100 readers, 99 readers may be safe and find this unnecessary but one reader may be going through this problem.
What should you do if you are being stalked in real life?
1. Be observant
Keep an eye out on the people around you. Don’t be immersed in your smartphone all the time.
If you find someone who should not be there around you stalking you, inform your friends and near and dear ones. Alerting your loved ones is very important.
2. Don’t travel alone
Try traveling with a group. If you find yourself alone, mix up with a group. Avoid going to lonely and dark places as it can be unsafe.
3. Keep a watch on your very own behavior
Sometimes, the stalker can interpret your message in the wrong way and may end up stalking you. You should trust your instincts, be cognizant of the history of the person’s behavior (if you are aware of it), and be realistic about the danger you’re in.
4. Seek help from authorities like police if you feel unsafe
Get an NC or FIR filed against the person. In cases of repeated stalking or stalkers with a history of violence, you may be able to get an order of protection that legally requires the stalker to stay away from you.
5. Take a break
Without informing any outsider, move to an undisclosed location for some time with someone near to you. Taking a vacation may be helpful sometimes.
Sometimes stalking can leave a scar or a traumatic effect on a person’s mind. The best way to deal with this is to stop overthinking and imagining unwanted scenarios. Be one with reality. Seek help from a professional. Do things you love like a hobby or watching new tv series etc, that will help you clear your mind.
Be aware. Stay safe.
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