I’ve Had a Cyberstalker Since I Was 12
Roni Jacobson

I’m beyond disgusted with how the cops handled this incident. Unfortunately I’m not at all surprised. Don’t deal with law enforcement—they’re too busy, they’re frequently inept, and they don’t care. Talk to a domestic violence organization to find out what your legal options really are. I know someone who might be able to help.

A friend of mine is dealing with something similar right now: deranged ex-boyfriend with numerous mental and emotional problems won’t leave her alone, sending her ugly crap by every means he can think of. When she finally went to the cops, they pretty much blew her off, telling her to change her phone number, block him online, and don’t encourage him.

So she did change her phone number. Problem was that he started calling her at work. She did block him online. Problem was that he created other accounts. She avoided “encouraging” him. Problem was that he didn’t care whether she reacted to him or not. My friend—I’ll call her “Ellen”—was ultimately able to get a restraining order against the bastard, which he promptly violated, and even then, the cops showed little interest in arresting him. He wasn’t what they considered a physical threat.

But unending harassment is physical violence, in a way. At the least, it’s a constant, low-grade irritant that chips away at one’s life and erodes one’s sense of security. I’d classify Danny as more of a virus: something that will consume you if left unchecked. And there is absolutely a physical toll from constantly being abused, and never knowing what your abuser is going to do next. Ellen is dealing with PTSD from all this.

Ellen contacted a few domestic violence organizations, including Casa Myrna in Boston. They have people who are very familiar with cyberstalking and harassment laws, and they might have some ideas on what to do next. Casa Myrna is seeing what they can do about this. Ellen is lucky. Casa Myrna has agreed to represent her pro bono.

It’s worth mentioning that she had a case because (1) this guy was contacting her directly, so she was able to get a restraining order, and (2) he flagrantly violated the order, which she will be able to prove. What Danny is doing here is no less destructive—it’s worse—but I’m not sure how restraining orders function when the harasser is contacting other people about you, instead of contacting you directly. Nevertheless, I don’t believe for a second that what he is doing is remotely legal, and I think a group like Casa Myrna will have legal resources who will know how to handle it. (I realize legal representation can be expensive. Depends what you’re quoted, but I was initially going to start a Crowdrise fundraiser for Ellen, before she learned that Casa Myrna wasn’t going to charge her.)

Like I said, DM me on Twitter (_csilverman—note the underscore) if you think talking to Ellen would help. This behavior is not something you should ever have had to accept as part of your life. Hateful emails are bad enough; a sustained, calculated attempt on your personal and professional life is a whole other deal. It’s a shame that Danny has problems—so does Ellen’s ex—but that doesn’t mean you’re obligated to let him pollute your world.

It is disgusting that people who speak out against abuse are made to feel selfish and oversensitive. You’re not. If you don’t do something, he’ll keep making other people miserable until he is stopped.

Standing up to abuse, and shutting down abusers, is a public service. Good luck with this.

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