If you’re being cyberstalked seek help right away. Keep reading for 7 signs that you are being cyberstalked and what to do about it.
It’s undeniable: we live in a digital world. And while technology has done wonders for connecting people from all walks of life all over the world, it can also pose a danger close to home. One out of every four victims of stalking reports that they’re being cyberstalked.
But what exactly is cyberstalking and how can you tell when it’s happening to you? What steps should you take to ensure that you and your family are safe and protected? Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Cyber Stalking
When it comes to the real world, stalking is when someone gives you obsessive, unwanted attention. When you’re being physically stalked, a person watches and follows you. They often text or call incessantly no matter how often you tell them to stop.
Cyberstalking is when a person makes unwanted, obsessive contact with you online. This could mean that they send you repeated emails or messages on social media, they obsessively comment on all of your pictures, or any number of things.
But in a world where the more likes and comments a picture gets the better we feel about ourselves, it can be hard to determine what is cyberstalking and what is bad internet manners.
These are the top signs that your internet admirer might be a stalker.
1. They’re Following You Everywhere
Much like a physical stalker, a cyberstalker will follow you everywhere. Except this time, they’re following you on all social media. While it’s normal to have a lot of crossover followers on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, a cyberstalker may even follow you on websites that aren’t meant for socialization.
If the person in question follows you on all of your social media, including things like LinkedIn, GoodReads, and Flickr, you may have a problem.
2. They Comment on Every Post
It’s normal to want to see your friends and family engaging with your posts on social media. But there are times where it’s inappropriate to see the same person’s name pop up in your notification feed over and over again.
They don’t just stick to pictures and text updates, though. Someone who is cyberstalking you will often go back through all of your old pictures and updates to comment on them as well. They may leave likes or reactions to pictures from years ago.
Facebook also has a feature where the changes you make to your profile show up on your friends’ newsfeeds. Things like “Mary is in a relationship” may be the sort of thing that would set them off.
If you think that someone on your friend list is behaving in an obsessive manner with it comes to your posts, they may be stalking you.
3. You Get Regular Unwanted Messages
This is something that is true for both physical stalkers and cyberstalkers.
Someone who is stalking you physically is likely going to call you repeatedly at all hours of the night, no matter how many times you ask them to stop. They’ll leave you text messages or voicemails and they might even drop off a letter or two in your mailbox.
A cyberstalker is much the same, except they’ll leave you messages across all your social media platforms and emails. Even if you choose not to respond to any of their messages, they’ll keep sending them in the hopes that one day you will.
This is true for your emails as well. And even if you don’t give your email out to people, it’s quite easy for anyone to get an email address for you just by looking at your social media or any websites that you run.
4. They Show Up in the Real World
People who are active on social media often like to say when they’re leaving the house and talk about where they’re going. This is great when you’re trying to update your family or talk about a fun thing you have planned. But it often leaves you wide open for stalkers to know where you are.
If you notice that someone with the other behaviors we’re talking about also just happens to pop up wherever you are, it’s possible that they’re stalking you.
If you live in a small town, bumping into people from time to time isn’t a strange occurrence. But when it happens over and over again, that’s a pretty good sign that you may need to seek extra help.
5. They’ve Pretended to be Someone They’re Not
This is not only a warning sign for possible cyberstalking but also a clear signal that the person is not in touch with reality. There is no reason that a person should pretend to be someone they’re not online.
The second you find out that a person is pretending to be someone else online in order to talk to you, that’s a sign that you need to cut off all conversation and protect yourself against any danger you may face with this person.
6. They Follow Your Family and Friends
If you notice that, in addition to following you on social media, the person in question also follows all your family and friends, there may be a problem.
Again, this can be tricky to figure out. You may have a stalker who is also a friend of the family, in which case it would make sense for them to follow your family as well.
But if you notice that someone has made an effort to follow all of your family and friends even when it’s inappropriate for them to do so, that’s a red flag.
7. They Attempt to Separate You
This is a common stalker behavior no matter what kind of stalker you have. When someone stalks you, they want to have you all to themselves. They’ll get jealous easily and will probably start to lash out at you if they think you’re paying attention to someone else.
A stalker will also attempt to tear you down to your friends and family. This is in an attempt to weaken the bond between you and your loved ones.
They might try to leak pictures of you, spread rumors, or start drama. Taking screencaps of things that you’ve said about your friends or family and spreading them around is common stalker behavior.
Their goal is to have you all for themselves. And even if they have to ruin your reputation to separate you from people who could protect you from them, they’re going to do it.
Take These Steps if You’re Being Cyber Stalked
Now that you know what being cyber stalked looks like, let’s figure out what you’re supposed to do if you suspect you’re being stalked online.
Cyberstalking is considered a form of emotional assault. That means that there are laws that protect you from this kind of behavior. However, proving that you’re being cyberstalked can be difficult. Being stalked online is a lot different than being stalked in person.
The first thing you should do if you’re being cyberstalked is to cut off any contact you have with the person. Make sure the message you send is clear and document it. Don’t reply to them, don’t open their emails, and block them on social media.
You should also document everything that you can. Save it and print out any evidence of unwanted communication with this person. Save all the originals and don’t edit anything.
Next, let your friends and family know what is going on. The people that are close to you need to understand the situation so they can protect you by not talking to your stalker. Every time you leave the house, let someone know where you’ll be and when you’ll be back, so they can alert the authorities should something happen.
Finally, contact law enforcement. There are laws surrounding cyberstalking, even if they are unclear. Places like this law firm can help you figure out what your rights are, as well. Follow whatever legal advice you can and keep yourself safe.
Be Safe on the Internet
You shouldn’t wait until you think you’re being cyberstalked to keep yourself safe on the internet. When we’re young, our parents tell us to not talk to strangers on the internet but as we get older and we meet some cool people online, we let our guards down. But there are still dangers to be aware of, and many times they look like people we already know.
Be selective about who you add on social media, don’t share details about your daily routine, and protect all the information you can. Those are the best ways to keep yourself safe online.
For more information about how to protect yourself in your day to day life, explore our blog.