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Has a cyberstalker followed you to your new job?

Perhaps you have recently started a new job with a company located in Hillcrest. You like the area, you like the work, you admire your boss and you are getting along well with your coworkers.

Life in the new work environment is just about perfect — except for the cyber stalker.

Online harassment

According to data compiled by Pew Research, 40 percent of those who use the internet have experienced some form of online harassment, of which there are six identified types. These include name-calling, efforts to embarrass someone, continuing harassment, sexual harassment, physical threats and stalking.

Unknowns

Men tend to experience “less severe harassment,” such as embarrassment or name-calling. Women, especially those who are 18 to 24 years of age, are often targets of sexual harassment or cyberstalking. Women in this age group also experience sustained harassment as well as physical threats. However, half of all those who have experienced some form of online harassment do not know who is behind the effort. Many online harassment incidents occur on social media sites, but victims also experience harassment through emails.

The first cyberstalking case

The first federal court case relative to cyber harassment went forward in the summer of 2004. A man in Columbia, South Carolina, faced charges for sending obscene emails to a former girlfriend who had moved to Seattle, Washington. The attacker tracked her through malware. He had special computer programs that hid his identity and the unwanted emails continued for four years before the target began collecting evidence of the cyberstalking activities and contacted the police. The ensuing investigation involved the FBI, the IRS, the Secret Service, the Washington State Patrol and the Seattle Police Department. The search was successful: The perpetrator received indictments on 26 counts of harassing emails.

Seeking help

Your cyberstalker may believe he or she can maintain anonymity, but legal help is at hand. Do not delay in reporting stalking incidents. Collecting evidence such as screenshots of the messages will help to pinpoint the level of harassment you are experiencing so that an investigation can begin. The hope is that you can eventually enjoy your new job without having to worry about online harassment. 

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