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What is cyberstalking?

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Question: What is cyberstalking?

Answer: Cyberstalking is a technologically-based “attack” on one person who has been targeted specifically for that attack for reasons of anger, revenge or control.

Cyberstalking can take many forms, including:

  • harassment, embarrassment and humiliation of the victim
  • emptying bank accounts or other economic control such as ruining the victim's credit score
  • harassing family, friends and employers to isolate the victim
  • scare tactics to instill fear and more.

The term can also apply to a “traditional” stalker who uses technology to trace and locate their victim and their movements more easily (e.g. using Facebook notifications to know what party they are attending).

A true cyberstalker’s intent is to harm their intended victim using the anonymity and untraceable distance of technology. In many situations, the victims never discover the identity of the cyberstalkers who hurt them, despite their lives being completely upended by the perpetrator.

Cyberstalking is not identity theft. An identity thief, whether stealing from a stranger or a family member, has a very specific goal in mind — financial gain. Identity thieves are unconcerned by the consequences of their behavior on the victim’s life, whereas the actions of a cyberstalker are deliberate and focused on the consequences to the victim.

The above piece is first in a series of nine articles on women and cyberstalking written for About.com by cyberstalking expert Alexis A. Moore, founder of the national advocacy group Survivors in Action. Links to the entire series are below.

Cyberstalking Article Index:

 

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