Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Stalking is Not Just a Womens Problem Anymore!

This post starts out with a news story that happened earlier this year (2011)

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has obtained a temporary restraining order against a California man accused of stalking him, his girlfriend and his sister.   read the rest of the story about this stalking issue

The fact of life  is that as more and more people are using the web, it is not just the rich and the famous who are being stalked and harassed and it is not just children who are having to deal with these terrible issues, but ordinary people like you also.

While women are still the main focus of stalking and harassment, men are also having to deal with the same issues and it can be down right scary!  In some ways I feel that men do not get enough support nor help from people on these issues ( unless you are a Mark Zuckerberg) and so this post is for all the men who are going through this type of situation ( although I think many women reading this will relate).

Many people tend to think of men being stalked like the movie "Play Misty for Me" ( 1971 movie with Clint Eastwood)

and for some that might be the case, but there is a lot more going on in the digital world and in ways a lot more "deadlier"

Just as women need to learn how to protect themselves, so do men so here are some tips to watch for.

The first and the most important clue that there is something very wrong is when , is when the stalker person pushes for information regarding your personal life, private life, or life away from the net! 

I have to be honest guys, it is one thing to chat with different people, to communicate and to even share "some" of your life, but when a person ( and it can be other guys) start pumping you for information and will NOT BACK DOWN when you politely tell them to stop..that should be a red flag for you to be super cautious! 

Some signs to look for that this could be happening to you....

You keep getting emails from a person. They keeping wanting to know about you and what you are doing, but will NOT share any information about themselves. (RED FLAG)

You have politely told a person to go away in an email and they keep mailing you on all kinds of topics and most of them are personal ( RED FLAG)

You are on a social community like Twitter, Facebook and a person is constantly insulting you, challenging you or on the other side of the coin, they can be very helpful and very nice BUT  they just don't stop ( RED FLAG)

You are on a community and that "person" is directing comments or suggestions directly at you..all the time! You feel singled out and uncomfortable ( RED FLAG)

** This last one has a special meaning to me as I had a friend go through this situation. This person had a stalker show up and would only talk to my friend on a community. He thought he was imagining things for a while, but when we went back through the stalkers tweets, he was only talking to my friend and some of the tweets were down right insulting, challenging and even a bit threatening, right down to this person being at his home and taking pictures...HUGE RED FLAG!

While many people and guys this includes you, think that you can handle this situation, it never hurts to remind you that there are steps you should be taking to protect you and your family

first off educate yourself! How do you know when it is harrassment, cyberstalking or just a person wanting to communicate

According to Black's Law dictionary Harassment is

"A course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress in such person and serves no legitimate purpose" or "Words, gestures, and actions which tend to annoy, alarm and abuse (verbally) another person."

Cyberstalking is a focused kind of harrassment and according to Department of Justice 1999 study defines it this way

the use of the Internet, e-mail, or other electronic communications devices to stalk another person. Stalking generally involves harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person's home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person's property." Cyberstalkers frequently follow their targets around the net, frequenting in chat rooms, message boards, newsgroups or mailing lists in which the target participates. At times they will also attempt to form relationships with those who are friendly with the target in order to get more information about the target.

So what can you do?

1. Send the person a strong message "Do not contact me in any way in the future." me you wont have to explain and you dont want to give any leeway for them to engage with you.

2. On most communities you can block people. USE the block button asap.  If they find a way to message you, ignore them, do not respond in any manner to anything they might say.

3.Save everything that this person might be sending to you and that includes tweet, Facebook statuses etc.  If they send emails, save them in a special folder.  You may not think some of the things said are important, but they will build a picture of stalking/harassment.

4. Tell people that you trust -your best buddy, a family member, doctor about what is going on. Get their opinion and support.  Stalkers are like bullies, they thrive on the power they have over you..lessen that power.

5. Contact a community administrator of a social site.  Take the time to read the terms of service on any social site to get ideas or for help
Twitter - Reporting an abusive user
Facebook - Report Abusive Behavior

6. If you have taken all of the steps listed above and the abuse continues then notify your local local police department...and please don't wait!

Have I missed anything?  Lets talk about this - you are not alone 
Remember guys, its is OK to protect yourself ....