Possible Warning Signs
The behaviours that comprise cyberstalking generally do not occur in an obvious manner. Granted, some cases do begin in an extreme and blatant fashion, but they are the exception. Most build up over time, and are not apparent to you until the stalker has built a form of relationship with you, or has gained access to personal data that facilitates the harassment. The growth in internet usage and social networking sites means that people are far more connected to family and friends, and have more access to make connections with strangers.
Short of denying oneself an online presence, the best way that a person can prevent being cyberstalked is to be vigilant in protecting the data that they make available online (some hints on how to do this can be found in the fact sheet “Protection from cyberstalking: basic advice”) and by recognizing behaviours that could indicate cyberstalking is a possibility, or is occurring.
Warning signs of a cyberstalker:
- They contact you without any clear reason or obvious connection;
- They start contacting you multiple times a day, despite requests/attempts to discourage;
- They are anxious to move from public forum to private connections such as email, or texting;
- They keep asking for personal information, where you work, or biographical data;
- They agree with everything said in an effort to forge connections;
- They disagree with everything said, in an effort to taunt or goad you into a response or series of responses;
- They start talking about how much they like you after only a few interactions;
- Their story changes to suit the situation, or there are small details in what they have presented that just don't “add up”;
- They seek you out when you have been absent, trying to ascertain who else you interact with, or why you were not in contact;
- They know information about you that they should not have accessed, or that you have not told them;
- They are always connecting with you online, across several different platforms (email, IM, social networking sites), seem to know when you are online;
- They repeatedly call attention to one particular interaction with you, and cast blame on you for real or perceived wrongs;
- They start trying to connect with your family and friends, even though you have no apparent connection to them; and
- They start to talk about you in public forums and with family and friends, creating a fictional relationship with you.
Not all of these behaviours, especially if taken in isolation, signify that you are being stalked or harassed. They are, however, warning signs that should be considered very seriously.
Network for Surviving Stalking. (2010). Warning signs of a cyberstalker. Accessed on February 5, 2011 at http://www.digital-stalking.com/victim-advice/digital-stalking-how-to-factsheets/warning-signs-of-a-stalker.html