10 Tips to Protect Yourself From Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking is a quickly escalating problem that's more likely to occur in an addictive personality. We can picture a love addict who begins to mark every move of his or her love interest online. A sex addict may use online stalking to research an intended hook up and then stalk that person until meeting up loaded with information about that person's every like and dislike. Or imagine a codependent in a relationship trying ineffectively to keep the focus within, at every turn distracted by his or her partner's online activity as a dysfunctional means to seek safety by controlling the relationship.

If you are the subject of cyberstalking, the attention may feel flattering at first but in the end could result in being traumatized: the eroding of boundaries and losing power over one's consent is terrifying whether in person or online. It's the psychological harm that these patterns incur not where the perpetration happens.

In this day and age we live our lives online. And of course this naturally extends to our romantic lives whether that be dating, married or in a committed relationship. This has happened so quickly that we haven't necessarily taken the precautions to protect ourselves. And because we live our lives online, it is only natural that our romantic encounters, relationships and prospects also have an online existence.

However with the escalation of cyberstalking, it is important to be careful with how you conduct your romantic life online and to take precautions. If you are casually dating and using online services to do so, you may want to protect yourself more carefully. If you are involved with a love addict, codependent or sex addict you should ensure that he or she is in recovery, actively working a program. If not, you may also want to protect yourself more carefully as you may be more vulnerable to being cyberstalked.

We need to develop the habits necessary to protect ourselves online. Now that every detail of our lives is showcased online we've become more vulnerable than ever. We need to monitor our online behavior very closely keeping in mind that whenever we engage in online activity we might be putting ourselves at risk. The anonymity of the cyber world makes each of us more easily susceptible to online stalking.

The aim of the cyberstalker is to make the victim feel humiliated, powerless or degraded. Cyberstalkers can be unstable, mentally unwell, or compulsive with their online behavior. In the past, stalkers were usually delegated to the realm of people the victim knew, ex-lovers or former co-workers. Because cyberstalking is compulsive and can be an extension of a love/sex addiction it is unlikely that the stalker will stop the behavior willingly. The best action to take is preventative and protective. Just as we have developed boundaries in face-to-face social situations, we must develop online boundaries and healthy habits.

Usually it takes what is called "hitting bottom" for the perpetrator to change their behavior. This could include losing their job, spouse, or having significant legal or financial troubles. It is unreasonable to wait until the perpetrator hits bottom. There are some very practical ways you can protect yourself from online stalking.

Below are some useful tips for avoiding being targeted:

  1. When engaging in online dating sites, do not divulge your last name or phone number until after you have met in person.

  • If your partner is a recovering sex/love addict or codependent, have an open conversation about the boundaries you are putting in place and choose to not share your password.
  • Set a reminder every 30-45 days to change your password for every online site, including your voicemail, email, Facebook, and all other password-protected online sites.
  • If an online site offers to generate a password for you -- accept it, we are much more likely to create traceable passwords then an algorithm.
  • Only accept friend requests from people whom you have met in person.
  • Don't respond to a private message on any social media platform if you do not know the sender.
  • Set your security settings on Facebook, to limit the ability of people other than friends to post on your wall.
  • You can easily block anyone who exhibits suspicious behavior on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
  • Don't share specific details about your whereabouts or unnecessary identifiable information about yourself on any social media platforms.
  • If anyone takes a photo or video of you to upload to the Internet, you are well within your rights to tell them to stop.
  • It's up to you to protect yourself as best you can. Post responsibly, date responsibly, and trust your intuition.