Social media has become so commonplace, that most people have a social media account of some sort, marketing firms recommend their clients make social media accounts if they don’t already have them, and people make careers off of it. However, with the skyrocketing popularity of social media comes increased risk of cyberstalking.
Divorce is hard enough without having to worry about cyberstalking. However, in our increasingly online world, it’s important to understand what cyberstalking is so that you know how it can affect your divorce, whether you’re a victim of it, or whether you are unintentionally cyberstalking your spouse. If you’re going through a divorce, it’s important to talk to your attorney about cyberstalking to both keep yourself safe and to ensure that you’re not sabotaging yourself.
What Is Cyberstalking?
People throw out the term “cyberstalking” very casually, which can make people struggle to understand precisely what cyberstalking entails. Perhaps one of your friends is going on a date, so your friend group decides to “cyber stalk” their date in order to see what they’re like. This singular instance of checking someone’s socials in order to ensure that they seem safe and like a good fit for your friend does not count as cyberstalking – otherwise jobs that check your social media before inviting you to interview would also be guilty of cyberstalking you.
Stalking is a continuous process in which the stalker repeatedly, unwantedly, and disruptively intrudes upon their victim’s life. Cyberstalking is generally understood as using the Internet in order to stalk someone. Stalking is a crime in all 50 states, and cyberstalking can fall under stalking laws. It can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Examples Of Cyberstalking
Cyberstalking is essentially a type of cyberbullying in which the stalker spies on the other person. They go through the person’s social media, that of their friends and family, and use the internet in order to intimidate, harass, embarrass, or threaten another person. It can also include monitoring, identity theft, false accusations to damage your reputation, defamation, libel, slander, doxing, blackmail, and more. These interactions typically don’t end even if the person being stalked asks the stalker to stop.
Cyberstalking often goes hand-in-hand with real-life stalking. Both are criminal offenses and can result in restraining orders, domestic violence charges, probation, and criminal penalties. If you are going through a divorce, cyberstalking can be used against the person doing it in custody hearings.
Should You Check Your Ex’s Social Media During Divorce?
It may be tempting to check your spouse’s social media accounts during the divorce process. You may want to know what they’re up to or whether they are posting anything about you or the divorce. However, if you find yourself continually checking your spouse’s accounts, you may be guilty of cyberstalking.
If your spouse is posting things that could be helpful to your divorce case, such as expensive purchases even as they claim that they have no assets, talk to your attorney. When a spouse uses information they find online to threaten, embarrass, intimidate, or harass their partner, they can cross the line into cyberstalking. Your attorney will determine how best to gather digital evidence to support your case and advise you on what you can do in order to avoid cyberstalking.
Additionally, checking your spouse’s social media accounts or posting about them or the divorce can not only hurt your case, it also keeps you from moving on and is bad for your mental health. In order to start the healing process, it’s best to avoid keeping tabs on your ex.
What Should You Do If Your Ex Is Cyberstalking You?
If your spouse is breaking into your account, sending you nasty messages, repeatedly contacts you even when you ask them not to, and otherwise cyberstalk you, you can take legal action against them. Talk to your attorney about options available to you. Your attorney will help you protect yourself and advise you on how best to handle the situation.
Leave the talking to your attorney, as you could hurt your case and end up adding fuel to the fire by arguing with your spouse. If it’s possible to block and ignore them, do so. You must also be careful to keep your behavior in check, as you don’t want something you say or do to hurt you in the divorce proceedings.
Make sure you keep a record of messages, emails, voicemails, and the like to show your attorney. Remember that defamation, slander, sharing intimate photos, threats, and the like can be considered domestic violence.
If you are being cyberstalked in a divorce case, the best thing you can do is talk to your attorney about the options available to you. They will be able to help you with your unique situation.