In today’s digital world there are so many avenues for staying connected and as a result stalking Middle Tennessee has become even more scary and easy to do.
With the advent of new technologies and the power of social media, knowing people’s whereabouts has become the norm. In fact, on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter where you can follow and subscribe to specific user activity, the concept of “stalking” seems almost encouraged. However, while it might be a popular trend to constantly check up and “check-in”, the reality of social stalking is not something to be taken lightly.
Of course as innately curious individuals, we all do our research. And thanks to the internet we have instant access to a superfluous amount of information right at our fingertips. Social networking sites are especially chock full of personal data, like a giant library just waiting to be tapped into. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram can be great tools for employers on the search for qualified potential employees; for people who want to keep up with their favorite brands, products and organizations on a more personal and interactive level and vice versa; for the nosey, overprotective parent; or for doing a little shameless research on a potential date. But some people have ulterior motives and take their research too far…to the point of obsession.
These people, typically profiled as stalkers, are ones to watch out for. For them no amount of information is enough. They take social following to an unhealthy level, their actions not fueled by genuine curiosity, but rather by an uncontrollable desire to feel physically and emotionally close to their subject(s). Motivated by a desire to control their victims’ actions and feelings and by the desire to maintain some type of connection with them–regardless of their victims’ wishes–through manipulation and control, stalkers stop at nothing. They become fixated on the person they are targeting, constantly checking on their every move.
What is stalking?
By definition, stalking involves a man or woman knowingly and repeatedly following, approaching, contacting or surveilling you or someone close to you. Victims of stalking Middle Tennessee are subject to constant fear, anxiety and self-doubt. One in six women and one in 19 men are stalked in their lifetime, most often by a current or former intimate partner. What has always been a frightening crime has become even more threatening with the advancement of modern day technologies such as the recent integration of location-based tracking into internet search, mobile apps and social platforms.
Today stalkers no longer have to jump through hurdles to get close to their victims. With the advance of the internet and its increasing ability to track and store user information and activity, they are leaving behind their traditional proximal methods for an easier and more evasive alternative–cyberstalking. With more sophisticated tools at their disposal helping to aid them in their efforts to monitor, control and manipulate their victims, stalkers now have the ability to track you, follow you, and research your likes and dislikes without even setting foot outside of their home.
With the explosion of social media, you no longer have to know someone to get to know them. These days almost everyone has an online presence of some sort whether it be a LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest account or a blog. Every one of these sites is an avenue for people to gain access to your information, much of which can be very telling. Each time you go to “check-in” or “tag” a photo you’re leaving behind a digital footprint–a collection of clues available to pretty much anyone. So if someone really wanted to track your whereabouts chances are your social activity could lead them right to you or at least point them in a pretty sure direction.
Though technology does NOT cause stalking, it does make it easier and more invasive. Smartphones and social networking sites are paving an easy path between stalkers and their target victims, making them more efficient than ever before. Sites like Facebook and Twitter enable stalkers by giving them the opportunity to constantly monitor their victim’s activity and contact them (usually in the form of verbal abuse) with ease. Though users have the ability to set various privacy settings, everything posted on the internet is virtually a free for all. If someone had access to your computer or smart device or subscribed to your social media activity they’d pretty much have a map to your whereabouts. And because the commercial success of social networks especially depends on the willingness of users to share information with the widest possible network of friends and followers, these sites and apps (even with privacy options) will never really be “safe” for victims to use.
If you or someone you know is a victim of stalking Middle Tennessee it’s important to draw boundaries and reach out for help. Don’t wait until the situation worsens–let someone know today! At Center of Hope we’re always here to lend our advice and support and are just a phone call away (931)381-8580!
Remember, no matter what, you are not to blame and there is hope. No one deserves to live with emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. You have choices:
- Tell the person harassing you in straight forward terms, “Leave me alone, stop harassing me. Do not contact me again.” If you are in IM or chat, log off immediately and stay off-line for at least 24 hours.
- Do not reply to anything else the harasser says. No replies to emails, taunts or lies said about you. Do NOT REPLY! Harassment is a form of power over you. If you take that power away from the harasser and refuse to “play their game” then you have become empowered instead. You are now in charge!
- If the problem only exists via IM or chat, go off-line and completely change your online identity. This means changing your nickname and all the information you have listed in your profile. Everything must be changed!
- In the case of email harassment you need to contact the harasser’s ISP (Internet Service Provider) and make a complaint.
- If you are receiving unwanted contact, make clear to that person that you would appreciate if he or she did not contact you again.
- Save all communications for evidence. Do not edit or alter them in any way. Also, keep a record of your contacts with Internet system administrators or law enforcement officials.
- You may want to consider blocking or filtering messages from the harasser. Many e-mail programs such as Eudora and Microsoft Outlook have a filter feature, and software can be easily obtained that will automatically delete e-mails from a particular e-mail address or that contain offensive words. Chat room contact can be blocked as well. However, in some circumstances (such as threats of violence), it may be more appropriate to save the information and contact law enforcement authorities.
- If harassment continues after you have asked the person to stop, contact the harasser’s Internet Service Provider (ISP). Most ISP’s have clear policies prohibiting the use of their services to abuse another person. Often, an ISP can try to stop the conduct by direct contact with the stalker or by closing their account. If you receive abusive e-mails, identify the domain (after the “@” sign) and contact that ISP. Most ISP’s have an e-mail address such as abuse@(domain name) or postmaster@(domain name) that can be used for complaints. If the ISP has a website, visit it for information on how to file a complaint.
- Contact the Maury County Police (931)388-2727 or your nearest police department and inform them of the situation in as much detail as possible. In appropriate cases, they may refer the matter to state or federal authorities.
Are you in immediate danger? Call 911 or contact our 24-Hour Confidential Crisis Line (931)381-8580!