BARCC: Cyber stalking is on the rise

Cyber stalking has become a common form of stalking.

For many, the notion of “stalking” typically involves a shadowy figure creeping outside the unsuspecting warmth of a window, but according to a local organization, the reality is that it usually happens where you’d least expect it – in the glow of a computer screen.

January is National Stalking Awareness Month, so Metro caught up with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center to shed light on some local stalking trends.

It turns out, most Boston-area residents who are hounded by unwanted “friends” on social media and email don’t realize they’re being stalked.

“It’s unwanted communication. Unwanted compliments,” said Jesse Moskowitz, the BARCC hot line coordinator. “Primarily it is not individuals who are being physically stalked. More frequently they’re experiencing it via technology – the phone, social media, email. They’ll say ‘He won’t leave me alone,’ but they won’t use the term ‘stalking.’”

Those who do realize they’re the victims of stalking behavior are often frustrated with the lack of solutions.

“There aren’t many stalking-specific resources that exist in Mass. for people who are experiencing stalking,” said Meg Bossong, BARCC’s manager of community engagement.  “There really is almost nothing for survivors of stalking who are not being sexually assaulted.”

Despite three requests to the Boston Police Department over the last week-and a-half, Metro was unable to obtain local crime statistics on stalking “due to high demands” of media requests.

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, about 6.6 million people are stalked each year in the United States, and the majority of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know.

“It might be someone that you often see on the T, or other people you might not notice in the course of your daily life,” said Bossong.

To deter stalkers, the BARCC will sometimes advise victims to change their phone numbers, email addresses and online profiles.

“A lot of the safety planning we talk about feels unfair,” said Moskowitz. “A person has to go out of their way to change their lives, their routines or their jobs. The burdens feel unfair because they are based on the actions of somebody else.”

Boston-area residents who suspects they may be a victim of stalking can
call the BARCC’s 24-hour hot line number 800-841-8371.

Stats on Stalking:

  • 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men have experienced stalking
  • to the point that they felt “very fearful” or believed that they or someone close to them would be hurt or killed.
  • 66% of female and 41% of male victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner.
  • 11% of stalking victims have been stalked for five years or more
  • 78% of stalkers use more than one means of approach.

(Source: The Stalking Resource Center)


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