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Cyber Stalking

Cyber Stalking

Based on a comment from one of the LifeHack readers (Thank you Viviane) I decided to follow up my “Is He Following Me?” article with a piece on cyberstalking.
Here is the result.

I conducted a review of the legal status,techniques to avoid and steps you can take to preserve your safety in cyber space.

In August of 1999 the Attorney General submitted a report to the Vice President. The topic? Cyberstalking, which was sited as one of the newest challenges facing law enforcement.

Although Stalking laws were already on the books, there were a series of comparisons that diferentiated stalking from cyber stalking.

Offline vs. Online Stalking — A ComparisonMajor Similarities

The majority stalking cases involve former intimates, although stranger stalking occurs in the real world and in cyberspace.

Most victims are women; most stalkers are men.

Stalkers are generally motivated by the desire to control the victim.

Major Differences

Offline stalking generally requires the perpetrator and the victim to be located in the same geographic area; cyberstalkers may be located across the street or across the country.

Electronic communications technologies make it much easier for a cyberstalker to encourage third parties to harass and/or threaten a victim (e.g., impersonating the victim and posting inflammatory messages to bulletin boards and in chat rooms, causing viewers of that message to send threatening messages back to the victim “author.”)

Electronic communications technologies also lower the barriers to harassment and threats; a cyberstalker does not need to physically confront the victim.

Beyond and above the protection the law provides there are other resources for victims.

Prevention Tips

1. Do not share personal information in public spaces anywhere online, nor give it to strangers, including in e-mail or chat rooms. Do not use your real name or nickname as your screen name or user ID. Pick a name that is gender- and age-neutral. And do not post personal information as part of any user profiles.

2. Be extremely cautious about meeting online acquaintances in person. If you choose to meet, do so in a public place and take along a friend.

3. Make sure that your ISP and Internet Relay Chat (IRC) network have an acceptable use policy that prohibits cyberstalking. And if your network fails to respond to your complaints, consider switching to a provider that is more responsive to user complaints.

4. If a situation online becomes hostile, log off or surf elsewhere. If a situation places you in fear, contact a local law enforcement agency.

What To Do If You Are Being Cyberstalked

1. If you are receiving unwanted contact, make clear to that person that you would like him or her not to contact you again.

2. Save all communications for evidence. Do not edit or alter them in any way. Also, keep a record of your contacts with Internet system administrators or law enforcement officials.

3. You may want to consider blocking or filtering messages from the harasser. Many e-mail programs have a filter feature, and software can be easily obtained that will automatically delete e-mails from a particular e-mail address or that contain offensive words. Chat room contact can be blocked as well. Although formats differ, a common chat room command to block someone would be to type: /ignore
(without the brackets). However, in some circumstances (such as threats of violence), it may be more appropriate to save the information and contact law enforcement authorities.
4. If harassment continues after you have asked the person to stop, contact the harasser’s Internet Service Provider (ISP). Most ISP’s have clear policies prohibiting the use of their services to abuse another person. Often, an ISP can try to stop the conduct by direct contact with the stalker or by closing their account. If you receive abusive e-mails, identify the domain (after the “@” sign) and contact that ISP. Most ISP’s have an e-mail address such as abuse@(domain name) or postmaster@(domain name) that can be used for complaints. If the ISP has a website, visit it for information on how to file a complaint.

5. Contact your local police department and inform them of the situation in as much detail as possible.

If you are afraid of taking action, there are other resources available to help you:

The National Domestice Violence Hotline, 800-799-SAFE (phone); 800-787-3224 (TDD).
There are also groups devoted to assisting you with these situations. Here is a list of a few.

CyberAngels: Non-profit group devoted to assisting victims of online harassment and threats, including cyberstalking. www.cyberangels.org.

GetNetWise: Online resource for families and caregivers to help kids use the Internet in a safe and educational manner. Includes a guide to online safety, a directory of online safety tools, and directions for reporting online trouble. www.getnetwise.org.

International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists: IACIS is an international volunteer non-profit corporation www.iacis.com.

National Center for Victims of Crime: The National Center for Victims of Crime (formerly known as the National Victim Center) www.ncvc.org.

National Cybercrime Training Partnership: An interagency, federal/state/local partnership www.cybercrime.org.

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: Nonprofit consumer information and advocacy program www.privacyrights.org.

Search Group, Inc.: SEARCH, the National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics, provides assistance to state and local criminal justice agencies www.search.org.

Working to Halt Online Abuse (WHOA): Founded by women to educate the Internet community about online harassment www.haltabuse.org.

In addition, copies of “Stalking and Domestic Violence: The Third Annual Report to Congress Under the Violence Against Women Act” can be obtained by contacting the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, Box 6000, Rockville, MD 20849-6000–(800) 851-3420.

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Reg Adkins writes on behavior and the human experience at (elementaltruths.blogspot.com).

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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