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Study: Cyberstalking Victims Need More Support

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The first ever British cyberstalking study reveals that two-thirds of victims want more support

Cyberstalking victims feel they aren’t getting enough support, Britain’s first cyberstalking study has revealed.

Sixty one percent of survey respondents who said they had been cyberstalked complained that they hadn’t received enough support.

Of those who declared their gender, 61.1 percent of male victims and 63.1 of females reported their harasser targeted them via social networking sites.

Eighty one percent said they had felt fear as a result of cyberstalking.

Those surveyed were asked to name a primary fear from a list. For both men and women the primary fears were damage to reputation and physical injury, but men were more worried about damage to reputation.

Serious psychological trauma

Men were also more likely to experience changes to working life, including being fired or demoted as a result. A third of people reported that work performance or studies had suffered as a result.

“Harassers can use technology to invade multiple aspects of their victims’ lives, leave them feeling that they have no way to escape,” the report said.

“It may be tempting to dismiss cyberstalking and harassment as somehow less real than ‘traditional’ stalking methods. However the effects on the victim can be very real. The psychological effects can be devastating, producing verifiable psychological trauma and damage, regardless of whether the victim ever actually meets their harasser.”

The National Centre for Cyberstalking Research (NCCR) surveyed 353 visitors to the Network for Surviving Stalking (NSS) website over six months up to March 2011.

Of the total, 324 said they felt they had been cyber harassed, 349 declared their gender of which 68 percent were female.

The problem was most prevalent among 30-39 year olds and just over half of respondents said the stalking began offline after they met their harasser in real life.

Victim support

The report has been handed over to MPs in an effort to force debate on improved support for victims from law enforcement and service providers.

Figures from CPS show that last year 33 percent of stalking incidents that reached them were by email, 32 percent by text and 8.4 percent through social networking.

Meanwhile, social network Facebook has recently been linked to several serious cases of cyber bulling.

Last year, 15-year-old Tom Mullaney reportedly committed suicide after being bullied on Facebook. Days later, his memorial page saw a posting that read: “Why would you make an RIP page about someone that’s clearly a wimp?? That’s just embarrassing.”

In February, police in Reading said they would be sending warning messages to Facebook bullies and their parents, in a bid to curb social network-related crimes among school students. And Facebook has also joined hands with the Samaritans to prevent suicides by launching a help centre where users can report friends whom they think may be suicidal.