Our technological age has turned the word “paranoid” into one of the most dangerous words on the planet. This one simple word is re-victimizing women and children all over the world who are in extreme danger; leaving them wide open for further attacks and abuse.
50 percent of stalkers are “simple obsessional” stalkers. These are the most violent stalkers by percentage because they view their former lovers as a possession. Rejection isn’t something they will accept.
Simple obsessional stalkers seek to regain control and power over their former partner.
Their behavior will escalate to harassment and violence toward the victim and the children they share if they lose contact with or control over their victim.
California, Nevada and a few others are among the only states that understand how dangerous stalkers are. However, it’s a well-known fact that all serial killers start out by first stalking their victims and their environment. Yet for some reason, even the most educated lawyers, judges, social workers and government officials can’t seem to make this connection.
Though all states have enacted general stalking laws, the majority of them will only act to protect a victim if the victim has recorded evidence of a verbal death threat, a verbal threat of violence or if the stalker has carried out another illegal act. If the victim and perpetrator were previously in a romantic relationship, the police, child welfare authorities and court systems almost always dismiss or excuse disturbingly predatory behavior and call the victim paranoid or over-reactive. Joseph A. Davis PhD wrote:
Due to the prior intimate relationship, stalking behavior is not readily recognized until a serious pattern has emerged. Often excusing or dismissing stalking as retaliatory behavior coincidental to child custody battles or bitter divorce actions, victims are reluctant to report the conduct because their fears have not often been taken seriously by friends, family or law enforcement.
Domestic violence agency social workers and volunteers consistently report knowing victims who were being stalked on public transportation, at shopping malls, at restaurants and at churches etc. by their abusers; their abuser’s friends or their abuser’s fellow street gang members.
Yet the victims couldn’t accept that their stalkers were getting information about them through social media, hacked devices, hacked email accounts and because their abusers were soliciting information from their friends both on and offline via social engineering; (when stalkers/abusers manipulate the victim’s friends or associates to get them to divulge personal information about the victim).
“Are you on Facebook?”
“Text me. I’ll save your number in my phone.”
For a victim, any invitation for digital communication can give a stalker access to their entire life.
“I don’t know why my phone won’t hold a charge.”
“My phone/computer/tablet has been running so slow. It’s taking forever to boot.”
Even something that may seem like a small technical glitch can mean there’s already spyware installed on a victim’s device.
It’s important to change the terminology when talking about cyberstalking, stalking, cyberbullying, social engineering and related topics from “paranoia,” to “being informed.”
Let’s say for example, you’re a graduating high school senior. You used to live in a small U.S. town that had a lot of white supremacist activity. A current classmate of another race tells you he plans to go to college in your old town. You warn him to be careful.
Your classmate says, “Oh you’re just being paranoid”, and walks away.
For some reason you never get to talk to him again and explain about the racism; or maybe he just didn’t care to listen to any of your advice.
Because of this, your classmate lacks the information he needs to make an educated decision. However, you had the information. You were “informed.” You weren’t “paranoid.”
We love our technology, yes. We don’t want to think of life without our social media accounts and smartphones. In addition, these new forms of stalking and cyberviolence are new to society in general.
However, in cases where domestic violence or stalking is reported, police, judges and lawmakers must begin to take it seriously. It’s also crucial for them to understand how technology fits into the equation.
Every domestic violence victim’s report of physical stalking or cyberstalking should be investigated and taken seriously.
It’s important for officials to begin to face the facts that cyberstalking and social engineering are now forms of abuse that go along with every other form of domestic violence, because we live in a technological age.
It’s time to take stalking, cyberstalking and social engineering seriously and stop calling victims paranoid.
Do you think society is adequately aware and equipped to deal with these kinds of problems? Do you think police and government officials are doing enough to protect domestic violence victims from stalking, cyberstalking and social engineering? Let’s hear your thoughts.
Images via Pixabay, Flickr, Wikimedia Commons, Picserver and Max Pixel