Attention cyberstalkers: you are committing a crime

Dear Harlan:

I was wondering if you could help me. I'm at the end of my rope here, and I'm getting very frustrated. I've read online that local police can't do much to help, so I wanted to ask your advice as to what I should do about my current situation. I have been receiving messages from an anonymous source via Tumblr (an online blogging host) for about a month now. This anonymous blogger has gone so far as to contact my sister's blog after I blocked the person from contacting me on my blog. The person mentions a past boyfriend of mine, and has defamed my character with multiple rude insults and name-callings. It is getting ridiculous. At first, I ignored it by blocking the person, but this person obviously is going out of his or her way to attempt to hurt me and my family. I have captured screenshots of each message that has been sent to me, and I have links to the person's profile as well. On top of this, I have received rude messages from a fake profile containing similar things through my Facebook page, which are being posted and messaged to me through the Tumblr blog. I am sick of this, and I want the person to be stopped. It's making me feel very annoyed, threatened, unsafe and unsettled. Not knowing who this person is makes everything worse. Please help.

Possibly Stalked

Dear Possibly Stalked:

So, you say you are feeling annoyed, threatened, unsafe and unsettled? If that's how you're feeling, then you are most likely being stalked. I don't know where you're getting your legal info, but cyber stalking is something law enforcement takes seriously. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice recently conducted the Supplemental Victimization Survey to help people like yourself identify if they were being stalked. Basically, the survey identified seven types of harassing or unwanted behaviors consistent with stalking. People who took the survey were classified as being stalking victims if they responded that they experienced two or more of these behaviors on two or more separate occasions. In addition, individuals had to report feeling fear for their safety or that of a family member as a result of the perpetrator's actions or they must have experienced additional threatening behaviors that can cause a reasonable person to feel fear. The SVS included these seven types of harassing or unwanted behaviors:

• Making unwanted phone calls

• Sending unsolicited or unwanted letters or emails

• Following or spying on the victim

• Showing up at a place where he or she had no reason to be

• Waiting at places for the victim

• Leaving unwanted items, presents or flowers

• Posting information or spreading rumors about the victim on the Internet, in a public place or by word of mouth.

Based on this, the person's actions you've described are consistent with stalking. The first thing I'd do is contact law enforcement. Share the paper trail and explore your options. If you're on a campus, meet with the counseling department, someone in the women's center and campus security. I'd also consult legal services. As you take action (or wait to take action), keep a detailed paper trail and log so that you will have the names, numbers and all the information you need to make your case. But know that this person is breaking the law and there are people who can help protect you from this person.

For more information on the SVS, visit The Department of Justice at

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