With the digital age, harassment is no longer bound to unwanted letters and telephone calls. Harassers can now do their dirty work by using a variety of mediums like Twitter, Facebook and texting.
However, the laws in California to protect victims of online harassment recently became much tougher. And that’s a good thing for men going through divorce or experiencing separation.
As of January 1, anyone in California found guilty of cyberstalking can be hit with a $1,000 fine, up to a year in jail or both.
Men Are Victimized More Through Online Harassment
A survey by the Pew Research Center found that one-third of adults in the U.S. who are active users of the Internet had experienced some form of cyberstalking. Interestingly, men seem to have experienced more online harassment than women.
The divorce process can trigger a host of seemingly irrational actions generated by emotional distress that can leave behind a huge path of wreckage in their wake. The toughened laws represent a huge step forward in protecting the victims of online harassment.
Online Harassment at a Glance
In a nutshell, cyberstalking and online harassment involve the use of technology – primarily phone, Internet, e-mail, instant messaging or video – to cause fear or intimidation. It can also include the monitoring of your communication with others, identify theft and damage to equipment through the installment of spyware and viruses.
Tips for Preventing Online Harassment
There are a number of actions you can take to protect yourself against online harassment.
Change your e-mail password. Whether you realize it or not, your spouse most likely already knows the password for your e-mail account. Do not use passwords that are easy to guess. In fact, password manager programs are wonderful for generating hard-to-figure-out passwords – and the program will remember it for you. Change your password…change it now…we’ll wait.
Tell your friends it’s not cool for them to tag and post. In fact, do the smart thing and disable the GPS functionality on your phone or camera. There’s a lot of metadata information contained in photos posted online to social media accounts. The less information your soon-to-be ex has about your whereabouts, the better.
Only use computers you trust. You’d be surprised to know just how easy it is to corrupt your computer with spyware and malware. In addition to only using computers you trust, make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are current.
Google yourself. You’ll definitely want to conduct an online audit of yourself to see just how vulnerable you are to online harassment. Type your name and hometown into Google or any search engine and see what turns up. Some may even return links that show your contact information.
We applaud the efforts of the California penal system for getting tougher with harassers. If you’ve experienced online harassment, we’d be happy to talk with you about your options. Contact the San Diego offices at Men’s Legal Center; our number is (619) 234-3838.