National Stalking Awareness Week 2019

Cyber stalking and online stalking

Cyber stalking and online stalking

It is national stalking awareness week. Raising awareness of stalking is vital, as stalking is often treated as harassment and is not properly understood.

This week one of our volunteers attended a cyber stalking training event run by Protection Against Stalking called ‘Be Cyber-Aware: Would you know if you were being stalked?’. With cyber stalking one of the areas of cyber crime we can support with this is an area close to our heart. The session covered what cyber stalking is, the common methods used by cyber stalkers, the impact on victims and what can be done to protect victims.

What is stalking? Protection Against Stalking defines stalking as “A pattern of fixated and obsessive behaviour which is repeated, persistent, intrusive and causes fear of violence or engenders alarm and distress in the victim”. In the vast majority of stalking cases the stalker is known to the victim, although with cyber stalking it can be an online stranger.

Cyber stalking can refer to the aspect of stalking that is enabled through technology or a type of stalking that is carried out 100% online. Common cyber stalking activity includes information gathering, unsolicited messages, surveillance, unauthorised access to online accounts and spreading misinformation about the victim.

Some interesting stats from the session:

  • 92% of stalking begins as an immediate response to the end of a relationship.

  • 9 out of 10 women murdered in the UK were stalked beforehand.

  • Victims will often experience over 100 instances of stalking behaviour before they seek help.

  • 51% of stalking cases are linked to domestic abuse.

The impact of victims can be severe. Many victims have to make large changes to their lives to try and escape their stalker, getting the right help can be difficult leaving many feel helpless and there is often a high risk of life threatening physical violence.

As a result of the session we have updated our cyber stalking web guide, made some tweaks to the information our chatbot is looking for and will put our a refresher to our volunteers on supporting those who are experiencing cyber stalking.

As part of National Stalking Awareness Week it is worth making yourself familiar with stalking and how to spot it. You may be able to help someone seek help early. If you want to learn more about stalking take a look at the Protection Against Stalking website.

NewsRory InnesStalking