Cyber-stalking and harassment
Abuse and family violence don’t always come in the form of physical threats or violence. Online behavior by a partner, family member or someone else can also be abusive if it makes you feel scared or unsafe. Abusive online behaviour can include:
- Checking your email or tracking your internet use
- Impersonating you or spreading rumours about you
- Posting embarrassing, fake or intimate videos, photos or comments about you
- Constantly messaging, emailing or texting you in a way that makes you feel intimidated or scared, or
- Harassing you on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or dating/chat/games sites.
If anyone – including a family member, boy/girlfriend or partner – is doing this to you, remember: you don’t have to put up with it.
What to do
- Protect your privacy online
- Make a Technology Safety Plan
- It’s a good idea to report it to the police
What is cyber-harassment?
Cyber-harassment, or cyber-bullying, can include things like:
- Checking your email without permission
- Impersonating you or hacking into your online accounts
- Spreading rumours about you, or
- Sharing photos or videos of you without your consent.
C yber-harassment is not just about being teased – it’s repeated behaviour that is designed to humiliate, control or scare the person being targeted. It’s not legal, and it’s not OK. Deal with different types of cyber-harassment (Facebook, Myspace, email) on our website Love: the good, the bad, the ugly.
What is cyber-stalking?
If someone keeps contacting you on Facebook or any kind of online site and it’s making you scared and upset, it sounds like you’re being stalked. Stalking is illegal. The person could get dangerous. Stalking includes following someone around or leaving messages on their phone or online, and deliberately trying to make them feel scared. You should contact the police and get their advice. Save any messages or emails to show the police if necessary. Stalking can also involve threats or sexual comments. The stalker often tries make the person they’re stalking feel intimidated and scared. Stalking a girlfriend, boyfriend or ex, or someone else, is against the law in Victoria. Stalking someone online is also against the law. NSW Police have advice on how to record stalking incidents and more about stalking.
Why would someone do this to me?
Just like ‘real-life’ stalking and harassment, cyber-stalking and cyber-bullying are often symptoms of someone’s need to control another person’s life. A stalker is often possessive of their girlfriend/boyfriend or ex, and thinks,
You’re mine – you do as I say and don’t you dare leave me!
They don’t care about their boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s right to freedom, privacy and independence. They often want to have power over their BF/GF or ex or want to punish them for breaking up. They might like the power of making their partner feel like they’re being watched. Remember that behaviour which makes you feel scared, unsafe or uncomfortable is never OK – even if the person says that they love you or that they’re ‘doing it because they love you’. ‘Is jealousy a sign of love?’
- Cyber-safety info for kids, teens and parents: Australian Communications and Media Authority
- How to deal with online bullying or harassment: Love: the good, the bad and the ugly
- How to report a crime: Victims of Crime (VIC Department of Justice)
- ‘Is jealousy a sign of love?’: Love: the good, the bad and the ugly
- Protecting your privacy online: Love: the good, the bad and the ugly
- Technology Safety Planning: Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria
- Tips on safe internet use: Women’s Health in the West
- What is stalking?: NSW Police
Photo from Flickr by Federico Morando