Please tell us more about your organization, Survivors In Action (www.survivorsinaction.org), and how it helps cyberstalking victims?
SIA was founded in 2007 we are a national non-profit crime victims advocacy
organization that provides direct support and assistance to victims of any crime
Cyberstalking victims are provided direct support and assistance by myself and
others. Part of the assistance and support includes providing victims with the self-help
tools necessary for a victim to “self-advocate”. Cyberstalking can take many forms and
can continue for an infinite amount of time therefore the approach to victim assistance
and response needs to be directed at providing the victims with long term solutions and
What is the difference between cyberstalking and cyberbullying?
I am asked this question a lot. The main difference is cyberbullying seems to be
applicable to youth victimized by online harassment. Whereas cyberstalking is the more
general term for the victimization and often includes acts of cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying specifically is an invisible crime of “bullying”, which often takes its toll
emotionally on a child, tween or teen. Traditional bullying can be more easily detected
by school administrators, parents, coaches and caregivers while cyberbullying remains
the invisible crime like its broader cousin cyberstalking, which takes longer to be noticed
by third parties in a child’s life without knowing what particular warning signs to look
What if your cyberstalker lives in a country where there are no
cyberstalking laws, can there still be legal justice? And if not, what do you
suggest a cyberstalking victim do?
Even with the laws in the states and best of intentions to help victims there are still
difficulties for victims of cyberstalk finding justice or any relief in many instances.
Technology continues to outpace public policy and law enforcement training and victim
advocacy falls way short in assisting victims of cyberstalk around the globe. A victim
has to be proactive and learn how to self-advocate. A victim expecting any 3rd party to
jump in and save the day is going to be disappointed –the best defense is learning
some tricks and tips from experts and acquiring a good support system that includes
victim advocates, lawyers, tech experts and friends and family who are supportive.
What are the first steps a cyberstalking victim should take if he or she
feels they’re being cyberstalked?
Document, document and document some more! The best defense a cyberstalking
victim has in their documentation. Record everything and keep a good time-line or
journal. I like to use excel others prefer a handwritten journal. Whatever your method
documentation will be the number one tool in the tool box for a cyberstalking victim.
Some cyberstalking victims may opt out of reporting a cyberstalking crime because they think police won’t be able to trace their cyberstalker. For example, the cyberstalker befriended the victim online using a fake identity. Later, the friendship ends and the cyberstalker sends the victim multiple harassing emails using this fake identity over a long period of time. The cyberstalking victim later finds out that the cyberstalker sent them a virus that traces the victim’s every move online. When he/she discovers this, the cyberstalker quickly makes his move and hacks into their online accounts and locks the victim out of several online accounts. The cyberstalker also uses multiple fake ip addresses.
Reporting to law enforcement without the assistance of a victim advocate, lawyer or
other public safety personnel support often if not the majority of times results in no
action. When there is a situation like the one mentioned above documentation and
understanding that these key-logging and keystroke virus do exist is the first part of
learning how to overcome the victimization. Emails and the net is not a secure place –
there is no 100% full proof virus protection or any full proof method to combat all cyber
crime. The best thing individuals can do is be vigilant in their actions on and offline to
prevent an act of cyberharassment and look for warning signs early! So if you have a
job where you are in charge of laying off workers, or if you are a banker foreclosing on
persons homes or a teenager breaking up with a girlfriend these incidents can lead to a
cyberassault. Knowing that virus and email security and safety is not 100% the best
thing for a person to do is be vigilant and learn the warning signs and most of all trust
your instincts. There is a lot of information on the net about Lover Spy virus and others
that provide the “tells” for individuals to look for if they have been hit with a virus. I
suggest everyone who utilizes a computer which is most of us to learn about these
viruses and to become aware of the tell tale signs of a cyberassault like this so that
they can react accordingly.
What would you tell a cyberstalking victim if this is them right now and will
authorities still be able to trace the cyberstalker back?
The cyberassaults may be traceable the problem is the authorities i.e. law enforcement
agencies don’t have the manpower to investigate every case and seldom do unless the
cyberassault is combined with a substantial financial loss or a more serious criminality.
There are some tech investigative firms that claim to do IP trace and be able to
investigate cyberassaults- I don’t endorse any however there are plenty that may be
found with a simple net search.
Do you have any other advice for cyberstalking victims?
The biggest piece of advice I can offer is to be patient and persistent. The journey
through a cyber-assault is a marathon not a sprint. Having a strong support network is
If you are a victim, find advocates, counselors and any other positive influence you
can to help build a support system and do this early on. Family, friends and co-workers
are not always a good source of support- many become disenchanted and because they
are not trained as victim advocates it is best to build a support system that consists of
3rd parties outside a victims work, school and family.
Alexis Moore has dedicated her life to empowering victims and to help advocate for public policy and victim resource reform so that no victim is left behind. Victims can visit www.survivorsinaction.org if they need more information. Additionally, Alexis can be found on her site www.alexismoore.com where she keeps up to date on cyberstalking and other cyberassaults impacting individuals today.
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