We’ve all heard it, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. If you’ve never heard that line, make it your new rule of thumb. It’s in line with the golden rule, after all. If you’re being harassed then you’re not alone, here are so methods for stopping cyber harassment.
Before you do anything else, a bit of advice.
I want you to examine your temperament, specifically that of your online or public presence. Are you political? Do you tend to start or participate in arguments? Are you a controversial figure? Or are you overly opinionated?
If any of these apply to you, you’ve massively increased your risk to become a party-to or a victim-of cyber harassment. Whether it is right or wrong for someone to harass you, the consequence of your actions is still the same. Before you do anything else, if you want the harassment to stop, shut up, keep your opinions to yourself, and don’t cause waves. There’s nothing wrong with causing waves, but it has it’s side effects.
In the scenario in which you are a quiet soul who doesn’t bother anyone and you are still a victim of cyber harassment, there may be options but you need to know why.
Step 1: Find out why.
As with any investigation, the inquiry of who, what, when, where, why, and how must be followed. Seasoned investigators always try to match ‘what’ with ‘why’ first, in order to determine if the occurrences are realistic and legitimate. This is specifically important in the case of online cyber harassing. Why would someone choose you? Find the why and then you can move on to the next step.
Step 2: Determine how.
This might seem apparent at first glance. If you’re receiving messages via text or social media, that would be the how, right? Well, yes and no. How is far more involved in the sense of how the attacker / harasser is using information they know. If the subject knows your favorite animal is a bear, and is consistently taunting you with this fact, then that knowledge can become evidence to prove it is a specific person. The ‘how’ is just as important as the ‘why’. Find knowledge that only certain individuals might know, and narrow down a list.
Step 3: Collect evidence
You will want to narrow down your options and set up a defensive strategy in case the problem gets worse. The best strategy in this case would be to collect evidence. You need to play the subject’s game without making it obvious that you are digging for information. It is imperative to analyze the subject and learn their mannerisms and personality in order to accomplish this. In this regard, you are essentially learning to use their personality flaws as methods to gain access to information. Most people are not master manipulators, and even those people will end up slipping eventually.
Step 4: Be assertive and then disengage.
Anytime you engage with an attacker or harasser, you risk adding fuel to the fire. Many harassers tend to get their fuel from reaction, if it is not monetarily motivated. Even if it is monetarily motivated, disengagement will still be the best option. Harassers, stalkers, and bullies are mentally weak by nature. They cannot live and let live. These individuals thrive on control over others because they feel insecure and rejected from those that they feel owe them something.
This is the time that you need to show strength. Do not act irrational, emotional, or involved. Always remain calm, logical, and to the point. You must demand that the subject cease and desist politely, or face possible legal consequences. Do not make threats of harm or lawsuits. Simply state that the harassment will not be tolerated. Then stop responding, and never respond again (Really) and document everything.
Step 5: If the harassment persists…
If the harassment persists after a few months of ignoring the person, your harasser is likely motivated by something that they cannot let go of. At this point, an increased response may be necessary. You need to make a choice. Would you rather deal with legal remedies and criminal complaints that may take exorbitant time and resources or do you want to take measures that are equally inconvenient but may save you time and money in the long run?
Depending on how the attacks are carried out, you may need to disband social media. Continue to remove your online presence, change your phone number and usernames, and increase the privacy controls on what social media you can. That means no Facebook, SnapChat, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, etc. If this is not an option, continue reading on…
Step 6: The last option.
This is where all your documentation comes into play. If you kept meticulous records of dates, times, as well as documentation of the threats and evidence of all this activity, then you will be in as good as a position as you can be in. In this case, most people would take their evidence and file criminal complaints with the local police, county sheriff, and / or state police. In cases in which the police cannot or will not help, private investigators and attorneys may be able to assist with collecting evidence and litigating on your behalf.