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Harassment and Cyberstalking

Stalking is a big problem. According to a report published in 2000 by Tjaden and Thoennes, stalking appears to be more prevalent than previously thought. The conducted survey revealed that 8.1 percent of women and 2.2 percent of men reported being stalked at some time in their life. Moreover, 1.0 percent of all women surveyed and 0.4 percent of men surveyed reported being stalked in the 12 months preceding the survey.

The statistics tell us that approximately 1 million women and 371 thousands men are stalked annually in the United States. Cyberstalking is similar to stalking and it can be defined as the use of electronic communication media (email, forums, Web sites, newsgroups, instant messaging applications, etc) to bully, threaten, harass, and intimidate a victim. As it was just mentioned, a large variety of techniques are used by cyberstalkers to harass their victims. These include sending hostile and unwelcome emails, publishing false information in chat rooms and Usenet, posing as victims in confrontational and provocative online sessions and in email messages to others, and using online communities such as MySpace, Friendster, Facebook, etc. The Internet technologies are frequently used by physical stalkers to harass their victims.

Cyberstalking sometimes evolve into physical stalking. As a result, victims can receive unwanted and frequently abusive phone calls, experience vandalism, trespassing, and physical assault.

The harassment is often conducted by former partners. The Working to Halt Online Abuse organization discovered that 48.5% of the people who contacted them for help previously knew the harasser and that out of those 48.5%, 47% were former intimate partners.

More articles on this and other topics can be found at Nikolai Ivanov's blog

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