After speaking at length with a leading expert in the field of psychology of online predators, Dr. Michael Nuccitelli, I have gained validation that I am not alone in this situation. Outside the unwavering support of my close friends and family, dealing with online psychopaths is admittedly very draining and has affected my health, as I suffer from debilitating Lupus, which is activated by stress. Unfortunately these types of crimes are happening to many people all over the world.
Just as there are vile criminals in real life, like murderers, thieves and rapists who target people in person, there are online predators as well, who hide behind computer screens and IP addresses. These criminals include cyberstalkers, cyberbullies, internet trolls and slanderers, just to name a few. They are often psychopaths and sociopaths who are fueled by causing pain in one way or another, and they act out their aggression to undeserving victims online. According to a study by Pew Research, approximately 65 percent of Internet users ages 18 to 29 have experienced some type of online harassment (Source: https://www.daytondailynews.com/news/local/shocking-things-you-need-know-about-cyberstalking/t9rl3YRCZHBT54iN6UcOiP/
Dr. Nuccitelli, writes the following:
Whether the offender is a cyberstalker, cyber harasser, cybercriminal, online sexual predator, internet troll, cyber terrorist, cyberbully, online child pornography consumer/distributor or engaged in internet defamation or nefarious online deception, they fall within the scope of iPredator. The three criteria used to define an iPredator include:
- A self-awareness of causing harm to others, directly or indirectly, using ICT.
- The usage of ICT to obtain, exchange and deliver harmful information.
- A general understanding of Cyberstealth used to engage in criminal or deviant activities or to profile, identify, locate, stalk and engage a target.
Unlike human predators prior to the Information Age, iPredators rely upon the multitude of benefits offered by Information and Communications Technology [ICT]. These assistances include exchange of information over long distances, rapidity of information exchanged and the seemingly infinite access to data available. Malevolent in intent, iPredators habitually deceive others using ICT in the abstract and artificial electronic universe known as cyberspace. Therefore, as the internet naturally offers all ICT users anonymity, if they decide, iPredators actively design online profiles and diversionary tactics to remain undetected and untraceable.
For many years, these types of online behaviors have been largely ignored by law enforcement. These predators roamed free on the world wide web, comprising this dark side of the information age. Fortunately, the tides are changing. As the internet matures, we are progressing towards a time, in the near future, where the masses are protected from these criminals. Recent efforts are gaining traction towards bringing rightful justice to victims by criminalizing these unthinkable behaviors. Keep in mind that legislation regarding internet crimes is all relatively new, so new policies are constantly being implemented worldwide.
Organizations such as HaltAbuse.org are working to increase the effectiveness of legislation to protect potential victims and targets of these types of abuse. The following link displays current laws in the U.S. that protect people from psychopaths and criminals online: http://www.haltabuse.org/resources/laws/index.shtml
In additional, U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Melrose, has recently renewed congressional efforts to implement federal legislation to protect victims against cyberstalking and online harassment:
If you or someone you know is going through anything of this nature, it can be reassuring to know that help is on the way. The laws are changing, and there is also a movement towards accountability in digital citizenship: http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/
Even still, there is a long way to go, as many cyberstalkers and harassers roam free on the internet with no accountability. But, thankfully, their free reign is soon coming to an end, as evidenced by the fact that many are now being brought to justice.