Stalking and Cyberstalking

Stalking and Cyberstalking

Stalking is characterized by harassing behaviors such as following or spying on a person and making verbal, written, or implied

threats. It is estimated that 1 million U.S. women and 400,000 men are stalked each year; nearly 90% of stalkers are men. Cyberstalk-ing, the use of electronic communications devices to stalk another person, is becoming more common. Cyberstalkers may send harassing or threatening e-mails or chat room messages to the victim, or they may encourage others to harass the victim by posting inflammatory messages and personal information on bulletin boards or chat rooms.

To protect yourself online:

• Never use your real name as an e-mail user name or chat room nickname. Select an age- and gender-neutral identity.

• Avoid filling out profiles for accounts related to e-mail use or chat room activities with information that could be used to identify you.

• Do not share personal information in public spaces anywhere online or give it to strangers.

• Learn how to filter unwanted e-mail messages.

• If you experience harassment online, do not respond to the harasser. Log off or surf elsewhere. Save all communications for evidence. If harassment continues, report it to the harasser’s Internet service provider, your Internet service provider, and the local police.

• Don’t agree to meet someone you’ve met online face-to-face unless you feel completely comfortable about it. Schedule a series of phone conversations first. Meet initially in a very public place and bring along a friend to increase your safety.

Stalking and Cyberstalking Photo Gallery

Coping After Terrorism, Mass Violence, or Natural Disasters

Certain areas of the United States are prone to natural disasters like Hurricane Irene, which wreaked havoc along the East Coast in 2011. Other natural disasters include tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes. Less frequent in the United States are episodes of mass violence or terrorist events such as those that occurred in Oklahoma in April 1995 and on September 11, 2001. When such events occur, some people suffer direct physical harm and/or the loss of relatives, friends, or possessions; many others experience emotional distress and are robbed of their sense of security.

Each person reacts differently to traumatic disaster, and it is normal to experience a variety of responses. Reactions may include disbelief and shock, fear, anger and resentment, anxiety about the future, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, mood swings, irritability, sadness and depression, panic, guilt, apathy, feelings of isolation or powerlessness, and many of the behaviorial signs such as headaches or insomnia that are associated with excess stress (see Chapter 10). Reactions may occur immediately or may be delayed until weeks or months after the event.

Taking positive steps can help you cope with powerful emotions. Consider the following strategies:

• Share your experiences and emotions with friends and family members. Be a supportive listener. Reassure children and encourage them to talk about what they are feeling.

• Take care of your mind and body. Choose a healthy diet, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and practice relaxation techniques. Don’t turn to unhealthy coping techniques such as using alcohol or other drugs.

• Take a break from media reports and images, and try not to develop nightmare scenarios for possible future events.

• Reestablish your routines at home, school, and work.

• Find ways to help others. Donating money, blood, food, clothes, or time can ease difficult emotions and give you a greater sense of control.

Everyone copes with tragedy in a different way and recovers at a different pace. If you feel overwhelmed by your emotions, seek professional help. Additional information about coping with terrorism and violence is available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (, the U.S. Department of Justice (www., and the National Mental Health Association (

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