According to Pew Research Center, young women face vastly higher rates of online harassment in two of its most intense, dangerous and emotionally disruptive forms: sexual harassment and stalking.
26% of young women told Pew that they have been stalked online compared to 7% of young men and 25% of women reported that they have been sexually harassed compared to 13% of young men.
“One thing we do know is that women take harassment more seriously than men. 38% of women reported that their harassment was “extremely or very upsetting,” while only 17% of harassed men felt the same. This is perhaps another clue that women are facing more extreme harassment than men.”
I can certainly vouch for those statistics. Being harassed, stalked, and even sexually harassed is easy since all your perpetrator needs these days is a tablet or computer. Cyber-stalking is simply defined as harassing or threatening an individual online while remaining anonymous. This can be done through various social media apps, blogs, photo sharing sites, or email.
In most incidents, the victims’ former partners are usually the ones who are behind cyber-stalking. Especially in cases where there has been abuse, the dominant partner will still want to control his ex-partner even after the relationship has ended. If you are breaking up with an intimate partner – especially if they are abusive, troubled, angry or difficult – reset every single password on all of your accounts, from email and social networking accounts to bank accounts, to something they cannot guess.
Being stalked online is not fun. If you read my book, “Victim No More,” you know how I was single-out by a group of women (yes, grown women) as they tried to pull me part in every different direction all because I wanted to date and was interested in a guy who covers their favorite baseball team for a newspaper. How juvenile. Not only were people still looking at all my profiles even afterwards, but being cyberbullied was no fun either. (That’s a whole different ball game.)
First off, people need to remember that any information you provide on the Internet, even to trusted or popular sites, is potentially susceptible to hackers. Don’t be so open to give out your personal information. You then set yourself up for being stalked in person. Secondly, make changes to your privacy settings across platforms. Be careful to turn off location tracking and tagging in photos.
If you have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, and YouTube, for instance, make sure check your privacy settings on each and maximize them across the board. Geotagging automatically shows your location from your smartphone. This can be dangerous because a stalker can know where you are and, more importantly, if you’re at your home or away. Go to the application’s settings on your phone and disable geotagging or location features.
Also, unless you are using social media for business purposes, if you have multiple social media accounts, use a different username for each one. This will help protect your privacy and make things more difficult for a stalker. Also, the most important tip is to to hide your friend’s lists on Facebook. A stalker may try to reach out to a friend of yours in order to get close to you. Your friends or contact list can be managed through your privacy settings.
Stalkers may create a fake account impersonating someone else in hopes of getting close to you. If you get a new friend or follow request, don’t accept it. Delete it or do not click on it. Don’t message them and say, “Who is this?” or, “Do I know you?” as this can open lines of communication with someone who might be your stalker. Don’t interact in any way with your stalker. Whether you know them in your everyday life or you only know of their internet activity, stay away. They might try to escalate the situation or say things they know will upset you or intrigue you in order to get you to respond or write back. Don’t take the bait. Save every form of communication they send you and go to the police. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, YouTube, Instagram all have options to completely block a person or a profile.
Remember, do not blame yourself if you are being stalked – YOU are not causing it.