At some time in our lives we have probably received unwanted emails or we have gotten into a brief argument with somebody online; depending on whom you are it may have happened more than once. But the problem occurs when this type of behavior continues. If you are getting unwanted email from the same person day in and day out or somebody is following you around to different chat rooms, chances are you are a victim of online stalking and harassment. Many people think that if they ignore the behavior than the person will go away; in some cases this is true, but what happens when that person doesn’t stop? What are you going to do now?
Here are some things that you should do if you think that you are a victim of online stalking and harassment.
1.If you are receiving any kind of unwanted contact, you need to make it clear to the person sending you the messages that you do not want him or her to contact you again. After you have sent the letter stating you do not want that person to contact you ever again, do not send any more communication. By sending more communication you are encouraging the behavior of the stalker.
2.Make sure that you save all of the communications that you have received, as well as any that you have sent, for future evidence. Be sure that you refrain from editing or alternating these communications in any way. When saving the communications you should save both an electronic and a hard copy.
3.Besides saving the communications between you and the cyberstalker you should also save any communications or notes that you have received from Internet system administrators and/or law enforcement officials.
4.You should also block or filter the email messages from the person who is harassing you. Most email programs allow you to block email from certain addresses and some email programs will filter out unwanted messages by automatically deleting them. You can also purchase computer software that deletes unwanted emails from certain addresses or that deletes emails that contain offensive words.
5.If you are in a chat room and are being harassed or annoyed you can block the person by clicking the ignore option or typing in the ignore command. In most chat rooms all you need to do is type: /ignore . This would be typed in the bar that allows you to post a message in the chat room, but make sure you leave out the brackets, otherwise it won’t work. But if threats are being made you should actually save all the information (screen shots are good ideas) and contact your local law enforcement agency. You can also contact the people who are in charge of the chat room or any other type of website. Many websites have a link that allows you to report any kind of abuse.
6.If you have asked the person to stop harassing you and they won’t stop, the next thing that you need to do is to contact their Internet Service Provider. Most all ISPs have clear policies that prohibit the use of their services to abuse another person. The ISP will most likely try to stop the conduct with direct contact with the stalker or by closing their account. In order to contact the harasser’s ISP you are going to have to identify the harasser’s domain name (this is the name following the @ sign in an email). The best thing to do is to go to the ISP website to find out how you should go about filing a complaint.
7.You can also contact your local police department and inform them about the situation; be sure to include as much detail as possible. Depending on the case they might refer you to the state or federal authorities. If you are afraid to call your police department due to the threat of violence you can contact either a domestic violence hotline or your local woman’s shelter. The main thing to remember is to do something. Taking action benefits both you and possible future victims.