The Anna Kavanaugh Charitable Foundation
Cyber Bullying, Cyber Harassment and Cyber Stalking
What Is Cyber Bullying and Cyber Harassment?
Cyber Bullying and Cyber Harassment are very closely related. They are online versions of an aggressive and unwanted behavior that thrives on its intimidation of a victim. The behavior is typically frequent and repeated over time, but can also occur as an isolated incident. It is marked by common abuser actions such as making or insinuating threats, spreading rumors designed to harm or humiliate a victim, attacking their character, talents, appearance and more. This behavior is also seen frequently in groups of individuals banding together to bully or harass their victim for even greater harmful effect and to accomplish a higher infliction of pain on the victim. Making repeated references to an individual in an intimidating, mean, ridiculing, offensive, rude, or insulting manner online is cyber-harassment and also can be considered a form of cyber-bullying. The specific distinction between the two is for the most part found in the age group involving the abuser(s) and the victim.
When this abusive behavior is committed by youth under the age of 18, victimizing another youth, it is accepted in description as cyber-bullying. When this behavior occurs between adults it is more commonly referred to as cyber-harassment. In adult cases, cyber-bullying and harassment are punishable as crimes.
Cyber Bullying and Internet Harassment Hurts
What is Cyber Stalking?
Cyber Stalking occurs when an abuser, or group of abusers, uses the internet to harass an individual they most often do not directly know. This may include false accusations, monitoring, privacy invasion, making threats, identity or data theft, or gathering information in order to harass. It is a virtual version of emotional and mental assault wherein the abuser instigates harm by repeating unwanted and damaging disruptions into the life of an individual online. Cyber-stalkers can be characterized in their behaviors toward their victims by malice, intimidation, obsession, vendetta, or no real purpose in continuing the behaviors. They will also ignore or ridicule formal warnings to cease and desist in their harassment tactics.
Many cyber-stalkers will try to damage the reputation of their victim and turn other people against them by making false accusations and claims. They may post false information about them on websites or set up their own websites, social sites, blogs or user pages for this purpose. They may also post allegations about the victim to newsgroups, chat rooms or other sites that allow anonymous public contributions. Cyber-stalkers will also recruit, or by default of their actions, create a diversionary or supportive mob of third party abusers. The instigators are often seen washing their hands and allowing these manipulated mobs to do their dirty work so they can claim lack of responsibility. Victims are dehumanized by cyber-stalkers, and their blind followers that have been duped into acting for the cause, to justify their actions, and excuse themselves from any sense of personal accountability for inhuman behavior. Whether an individual or a mob, these are mutually common traits and tactics.
Cyber-stalkers crave power over a victim and will use anything they can to support their motivations. They may attempt to surreptitiously gather private and personal information to exploit about the victim by contacting their victim's friends, family and work colleagues, or running background checks and hiring private detectives. They will then often misinterpret or manipulate what they find to present a false light or in the absence of anything scandalous, invent what they claim to have found. This behavior is also related to invasion of privacy laws. Cyber-stalking is a criminal offense subject to conviction and penalty. It falls under individual state, anti-stalking, slander, defamation and harassment legislation.
Effects of Cyber Bullying, Harassment and Stalking
The effects of cyber-bullying, cyber-harassment and cyber-stalking are catastrophically severe to an abuser's victim. New research now reveals that individuals who are bullied, stalked or harassed online perceive the trauma at higher stress levels than do victims who are bullied, stalked or harassed in person. Presumably, this is due to the profound impact of an abuser's 24 hour a day ability to hurt their victim with greater intensity than in person. Also, a contributing factor is the victim's inability to retreat into a safe place due to the nature of the internet, and the globally engaged audience of multi-millions over the world wide web. Resulting post traumatic stress syndrome and/or clinical depression are commonly seen as long lasting life consequences to victims, and research indicates this may cause health consequences that shorten the overall life span of a victim.
According to research, victim response to the intensity of stress and trauma experienced will include panic attacks, ongoing heightened stress, anxiety, fear, nightmares, shock, disbelief, grief, confusion, feelings of helplessness, hyper-vigilance, changes in eating, and sleeping difficulties.
Tragically and inexcusably, victims of this abuse are driven to suicide in a desperate attempt to find that safe place they otherwise cannot in a cyber abuse campaign playing out in the online world. Victims do not want to die but feel their lives and reputations have been irrevocably destroyed, and so seek death for the fundamental relief from the agonizing emotional and mental pain inflicted by their merciless abusers or by the lingering and irreversible damage they have already done.
If you are a victim of cyber-stalking, cyber-bullying or cyber-harassment please contact us today for help. If you are contemplating suicide, please take a breath and contact us or someone else for help before taking any drastic action. We care about you. We understand what you are going through. And we can help.