There is no good answer for why a stalker or harasser does what they do. Online or in-person, stalkers victimize people of all ages, races, genders, and religions. More importantly there is no action the victim participates in that justifies this behavior to any sane or rational person. Relationships do not warrant stalking, sexual encounters do not warrant stalking, smiling does not warrant stalking, sending nude photos online does not warrant stalking.
To repeat there is nothing a victim does that warrants the behavior a stalker or harasser exhibits.
If you are the victim of a cyber harasser or cyber stalker there are steps you can take to protect yourself and make law enforcement’s job easier. Most important of all, the person being stalked needs to call law enforcement if they are in imminent danger or have received death threats. Stalkers can turn deadly and according to SPARC there is no behavioral prediction for if stalkers will turn deadly or violent. Do not lose heart though, unpredictability doesn’t spell doom.
- State that you want contact to stop and then cease all contact.
This is hard. Your stalker wants attention and control, or they would not be bothering you. However, breaking down and responding to anything the harassers says/does makes law enforcement
think believe you are willingly engaging in discourse with this person. With s some individuals cutting off contact may escalate their behavior to threats of bodily harm towards themselves or you. Immediately report any threats made by this person to law enforcement. Get a case and/or incident number from law enforcement and keep it in a log.
- Keep a log of contact from your cyber stalker.
In the heat of the moment few people think to write down upsetting incidents. The gut reaction is to distance yourself as much possible or destroy evidence in hopes that will somehow make it end. The person stalking you is sick, and logic does not apply to their actions. This is not your fault. Etag has a handy Digital Collection Guide to help you set up and record incidents from your cyber harasser. SPARC also has a Cyber Harassment Log.
DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. Even if it seems dumb or paranoid, document it. Too much information is better than too little.
- Call the police.
In our case with Jason Christopher Hughes aka Raymond “Ray” Johnson, the FBI did not become involved until a police officer reached out to them.
Start local, call the police, and have an officer come to where the incidence occurred. If you were harassed at work, you need to file at work. If you were emailed by your stalker at school, you need to file the police report from school. Same for home or your place of worship. This may be embarrassing, but even if you must hide in a lobby bathroom or your car while you coordinate and meet with law enforcement, they are going to want you to be wherever you received the messages when you call. This includes if the incident and your home are in the same jurisdiction.
Have screenshots of the threats
, printed out, and/or recorded and ready for the police when they arrive. If you are too upset or do not have access to a printer, ask for help from a safe and supportive person.
Copies of prior police reports, previous contact attempts, and/or protection orders are good to have on hand. Mind you, protection orders are hard to get for cyber offenses. The laws are changing in the favor of the victims, but a lot of law enforcement agencies do not understand the threat of internet harassment well enough. Feel free to look for local support to help navigate these hurdles and remember to always stick to your guns. You are your best advocate, and while it may feel like you are screaming into a void, remember that sometimes it just takes one good cop to make all the difference.
If you have a previous relationship with this person and they have committed domestic violence against you, you may have assistance available to you from a local women’s shelter. However, not all cyber-crimes are committed against people who have met in person.
- Dealing with Revenge Porn and Nudes Distributed Without Permission.
Embarrassing isn’t it? On several occasions, Jason distributed nudes of former lovers to colleagues, classmates, and family. Sometimes
this he would include details of fictional sexual encounters to upset the victim further.
These instances take a huge emotional toll on the victim and it is hard to recover from the damage you may feel this has wrought on your reputation. Add this incident to your logs and call the police.
If this happens at your workplace, any commentary or discrimination about the photo(s)
would fall under workplace harassment. Do not be afraid to report to HR anyone who makes rude comments. Firing someone for having nudes distributed against their will may fall under hiring discrimination law. Your local state government offices should have free or cheap legal aide if you lose employment because of revenge porn. Do not be afraid to get help, you did not do anything wrong and do not deserve to lose your job because of an online bully.
You could also have grounds for a civil lawsuit if these pictures result in personal financial. A lawyer should be able to guide you through the steps needed to bring suit.
This has happened too more people than you would think. The good news is life goes on and you can come back from a photo leak. There are even celebrities who have careers after sex videos have been released, like Kim Kardashian.
- Have a support system in place to help you get through this.
You are going through emotional trauma that can change who you are and radically alter your life. You need a support network to help you get through this. Sometimes things will feel impossible, and you may need help keeping your spirits up. Do not feel bad asking for help or talking to someone you trust. Therapy is another route to consider, and some communities offer support groups for victims of stalking. Knowing you are not alone can be very comforting. Some online stalkers even have multiple victims, and they may be looking for someone like you out there.
If you feel like you may harm yourself there are suicide hotlines to talk you through what you are experiencing (800-273-8255).
Remember, there is no handbook for dealing with a cyber stalker, or correct emotional response to this harassment. You must do what you can, within the law, to take care of yourself. Never apologize for taking care of yourself.
- Have heart!
When Jason Christopher Hughes (aka Michael Rudra Nath, aka Raymond Johnson, aka Luis M. Arsupial) began harassing his victims law enforcement had no resources or understanding of what cyber stalking meant for victims. Since Jason’s conviction in 2017 case precedence has increased for the prosecution of cyber crimes and more resources come online every day. Even if you live in the tiniest town with an aged sheriff who can barely use a smart phone, things are changing in favor of the victims of cyber harassment.
You are not alone out there, so don’t give up hope and keep fighting for your own rights.