The Seven types of Cyber Abuse

Cyber Abuse Carla Franklin

Cyber Abuse is a vicious crime that occurs through digital channels

The fact that “ignorance of the law is never a defense“, doesn’t stop people from continuing to engage in online behavior that is not only unethical, but also illegal. As someone who survived and fought back against cyber stalking, I’m often invited to speak to high school and college-aged students on the topic of cyber abuse. Consistently, I find that most young people and adults who attend my talks don’t understand the full emotional and legal impact of cyber abuse. Many don’t even know all the forms that cyber abuse takes and that there are some laws on the books to protect victims from each type. Now, these laws aren’t always appropriately enforced, and most are unreasonably limited given the damage that cyber abuse does, but the laws are there nonetheless and should be used.

Typically when people discuss general online digit abuse, harassment and stalking, they use the term “cyberbullying”.

Stop cyberstalking

Stop cyberstalking

This is a misnomer.  Cyber abuse the most appropriate term to describe crimes and other legal violations that are directed at individuals and committed through digital channels including cell phone services and the internet.

Cyberbullying, like Cyberharassment and Cyberstalking, is a type of cyber abuse.  Specifically, it is cyber abuse committed by young people (age 17 and under) again young people, while Cyberharassment and Cyberstalking are commited by adults.   Cyberharassment may include false accusations, monitoring, making threats, identity theft, damage to data or equipment, the solicitation of minors for sex, or gathering information in order to harass (Wikipedia).   Repeated patterns of cyber abuse against a victim by an adult constitutes cyberstalking.

Cyber abuse can though any digital means, not just online.  Victims are damaged mentally, financially and professionally to a degree that is far more severe than similar behavior done in person, by postal mail or by phone. Why? Because online and digital communication is global and available to anyone 24 hours a day. Ignoring a perpetrator’s is not always a solutions for victims, especially in cases where this is on going intention to intimidate, alarm, humiliate and irrevocably damage the victim.  Understanding the primary types of cyber abuse, and associated legal consequences, can help empower the victim and his/her loved ones to fight back appropriately and put an end to the behavior.  Below are the seven high-level forms of cyber abuse and the legal consequences associated with them.  Over the coming months, I will be blogging about the real impact of each type of cyber abuse and how victims can empower themselves.

TYPES DEFINITION LEGAL CONSEQUENCES
Cyberbullying
•Cyberbullying is digital abuse committed against young people (17 and younger), by young people
•Suspension from school and athletic teams
•Juvenile arrest
Cyberstalking/ Cyberharassment
•Cyberharassment – a form of cyberbullying committed by adults (18 and older)
•Cyberstalking – repeated acts of cyberharassment
•Civil lawsuits
•Criminal arrest for harassment, stalking, impersonation, defamation
Phone / Caller ID spoofing
•Caller ID spoofing is the practice of causing the telephone network to display a number on the recipient’s Caller ID display that is not that of the actual originating station
•Criminal arrest for harassment, stalking, impersonation, identity theft, fraud
Sexting
•Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages and/or photographs, primarily between mobile phones.
•Copyright infringement
•Criminal arrest for distribution of pornography, child pornography, invasion of privacy
Revenge Porn
•A form of cyber-rape that involves the distribution of sexually explicit photos and/or videos of an individual (either real or photoshopped) on the Internet without permission.
•Civil lawsuits
•Criminal arrest for harassment, stalking, impersonation
Internet “bombing”/ bombarding
•Creation of 100s to 1000s of harassing and defamatory online postings in an effort to negatively alter a victim’s search engine results and deliberately cause mental anguish, job loss and misconceptions
•Civil lawsuits
•Criminal arrest for harassment, stalking, defamation
Digital burglary
•Illegal entry into or access of another person’s online account
•Criminal arrest for invasion of privacy, impersonation, identity theft, fraud
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2 thoughts on “The Seven types of Cyber Abuse

  1. Thank you for posting this. It is validating, and you are correct in that people who are not going through this, simply do not understand the devastating impact.

    I will be reading more on your blog, but this is my first visit to it, so perhaps you already address the point I want to bring up:

    Cyberstalking has of course also reared its ugly head in the workplace too, as part of workplace bullying and mobbing, and as a form of retaliation by malicious managers and supervisors, retaliating against an employee, former or current.

    It is particularly horrible to experience all this, as an employee first bullied out of the workplace, giving up a once loved job in effort to preserve health by escaping the abuse, only to encounter the unexpected horror of a non-ending online smear campaign, ensuring the already devastated, now destitute, isolated and thoroughly discredited worker, remains unemployable, remain terrorized, terrified, and shunned for the long haul.

    Mobbing has been often described by subject matter experts as “the stressor of all stressors”, but it is usually assumed to END once the employee (usually above average to excellent) is effectively ejected from the job and/or workforce.

    Such targets of workplace mobbing suffer tremendous damage, and typcally lose just about everything, undeservedly; they suffer from PTSD, physical health issues brought on by stress, major delression, and end up penniless sans health coverage (when they need it most), severely depressed, isolated from social supports, discriminated against and sometimes homeless. Up to 90% end up divorced, and often they end up dead within a few years after the mobbing. The problem is so poorly understood in the U.S., hence, it is very hard to find qualified treatment for the mental injuries and health problems caused by this type of abuse.

    But imagine the addition of a whole new cycle… the full brunt of cyberstalking and cybercrimes, just beginning after a person is already ‘destroyed’ to this level.

    Crimes online, by the workplace abuser, perpetrated in retaliation perhaps for the employee’s efforts to mitigate the problem, which usually involves REPORTING it. Unfortunately, workplace HR personnel notoriously side with the abusive manager, and make things worse. If the employee is ‘lucky’, at best it may go ignored by managers, but offen it spurs the vicious group-think and an effort to get rid of the victim of the abuse.

    Support by others such as HR and colleagues, empower the workplace bully to abuse with impunity. And this means escalation.

    Retaliation, when taken online, may include online impersonations, imposter sex profiles & solicitations, veiled or direct threats, callerid spoofing and harassment by phone, tech tactics such as spyware on the mobilephone (certain obsessed vindictive stalker types will stop at nothing to have a front row seat to witness her target’s suffering — after all, she put in loads of effort to destroy her target so wants to glean the pleasure of soaking in the pain she caused), internet or “google bombing”. Imagine the devastation of already having lost just about everything, and adjusting to being perceived as a pariah due to a fiction created by an aggressor in malice and cruelty, then experiencing an ongoing harassment and smear campaign by a power hungry individial lacking all conscience, now known to have evil intent, holding access to all info in one’s personnel file, and deliberately leaking it carelessly online mixed with a combo of real data mixed with smears and heinous lies?

    The type of data that puts one at risk for identity theft is exactly the type found in a personnel file. Yet that individual remains trusted in the workplace, having become sole-historian, smearing the target in professional, and often also social, circles.

    It is a devastation to levels I have rarely, if ever, found paralleled.

    This cybercrime is happening not only between peer adults, and of course in schools, but as a new face of workplace retaliation.

    Not all workplace bullying continues beyond the workplace. It just depends on the type and motive of the abuser (psychopath, narcissist, sadistic, vs a simply opportunistic and poorly trained one).

    But for those unlucky enough to encounter the worst type, sadly, these are the ones that are most covert in their tactics, only revealing true self to the target, so the person needing help and support is rarely believed.

    Also sad because this vicious campaign is usually spurred by an envious/jealous supervisor who targets an employee she envies in some way, who does an excellent job, loves her work, is well liked and had been appreciated for major contributions and achievements in the workplace; the type of employee a company wants and needs, is kicked to the curb and destroyed because an evil, skilled manipulator was spurred to act out, based on some delusion that her subordinate is outshining her. Chances are, the targeted subordinate ‘gave her all’ and never sought ‘spotlight’ nor ‘credit’.

    Most times the workplace bully moves on to another target, in the workplace, on average within a few weeks, after the targeted employee is forced out.

    But sometimes, especially with the ease of destroying a person online now, this heartless monster will persist, despite the “goal” of destroying the worker’s job, career, and reputation, is already met. Like an addict, some will escalate, remain obsessed with the target from afar, online, and have some burning “need” to destroy every aspect of that person.

    Seems as if the reputation and career destruction is not enough torture. I’m not sure the end goal of these evil people, but I have some theories. It is likely there is no real goal — just the sadistic abuse in itself is “fun” for these types of stalkers/abusers & the power and control they crave (psychopaths) collectively is gleaned from terrorizing the person, and manipulating so many to go along with the abuse. Perhaps pushing the target to suicide, or death from a stress related health condition, is what the psychopath aims toward. They don’t like leaving loose ends. I hear their only ‘fear’ is exposure of their true selves sans the ‘mask of sanity’. That might help explain why this won’t stop, and to me that is terrifying.

    Thank you for being an inspiration as a survivor, and for the useful, and validating info. I look forward to reading more on your blog.

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