By Dr. Ruth Schneider, Land of Lincoln Legal Aid
Like being trapped in a Black Mirror episode, a domestic violence victim who is cyber stalked and harassed exists in a virtual reality. The abuser seems omnipresent. Nonetheless, these surreal nightmares cause real hurt, real harm, and real damages. While the victim suffers severe emotional and financial harm, the law provides little to no justice. For an attorney representing this victim, a comprehensive response must be utilized that pieces together various areas of law, knowledge of technology, and an understanding of domestic violence.
Real People, Real Stories
Although faceless online interactions may seem virtual and simulated, the victims of cyber-attacks are real people.
After receiving unwanted emails and texts from strangers seeking sex with her, Dr. Holly Jacobs searched herself online and found over 300 websites containing nude photos of her. The photos originated from her long-distance relationship with a former boyfriend during which they shared with each other nude pictures of themselves with the understanding that the photos were for their eyes only. However, when the relationship ended, the online harassment began and even permeated her workplace. The harassment included anonymous calls to her Dean of Students that accused her of sleeping with her students, and even her part-time employer received an email with the nude photos. Her efforts to remove the photos from the sites were futile and most of the photos stayed online.