Interview i tysk nyhedsbrev4 min read
Digital stalking has become part of nearly all cases of stalking
Countless phone calls, numerous text messages, and sharing of private photos and information. Digitalization and the use of social media have created a new arena for stalking. Today digital harassment and cyberstalking are part of nearly all stalking cases. As a response to this tendency, Danish Stalking Centre has developed an app to increase security and freedom of movement for stalking victims.
Digitalstalking is doing serious harm to victims
Stalking is defined as a series of repeated unwanted and intrusive actionsthat are experienced as disruptive and intimidating by the stalking victim. In Danish Stalking Centre we understand digital stalking as serious as physical stalking. All kinds of stalking are harming the victim. Digital stalking consists of all kinds of attempts of contact on the phone, e-mail and socialmedia. Victims report about: sharing of private photos, hacking and misuse of accounts, ordering things or servicesin the name of the stalking victim, attempts of contact from false profiles, surveillance via GPS or apps, digital sexual violation, manipulated photos with sexual or degrading content, creation of fake dating profiles and threats about sharing these with partners, social network or workplace. Digitalstalking is very intrusive since the victimis exposed to it everywhere and at all times. Many victims of digital stalking explain how their personal space is constantly invaded as the digital stalking typically reaches them when they are at home and ought to feel safe.
Which challengesdo victims of digital stalking face?
Most people use digital services and social media in everyday activities when communicating with relatives, to stay updated on news or when booking a fitness class. Activity on digital platforms is also required when interacting with authorities and for many people in their jobs. Digitalization introduces a new vulnerability that most people are not aware of. Avoiding leaving digital footprints behind requires technical knowledge that most people do not have. Online stalking is very accessible since the stalker faces no physical or timely restrictions on when and how to contact the stalking victim. In addition, the possibility of staying anonymous and the low costs of performing digitalstalking make it easy and very widespread. Furthermore, legislation and punishment for digital stalking have not yet been aligned with the rising tendency and the far-reaching consequences of the phenomenon. Protecting oneself requires a lot of technical insight and not least knowledge of how digital development is continuously changing. Thus it is challenging for ordinary people to stay ahead and take the precautions needed. The development of digital stalking brings forth the question: how do we live a digital life and stay safe?
Skytsengel – an app as a tool against stalking
As a response to the growing number of people facing digital stalking, Danish Stalking Centre is offering counseling on digital safety. Furthermore, we have developed the app, Skytsengel, to increase security and freedom of movement in the everyday life of stalking victims. The app is developed in cooperation with the Danish Police and specialists on digital safety. With just a few clicks, stalking victims can activate family and friends if they feel unsafe. Skytsengel has a function of three levels of alarms according to the severity of the situation. Another function in the app is a log, where the stalking victim can register and document all contact attempts from the stalker: e.g. screenshots of textmessages, e-mails, and photos of unwanted presents. In Denmark, all registered episodes are included in the police assessment of the case, regarding the possibility of pressing charges or giving a restraining order. Skytsengel reaches a broad group of stalking victims, both men and women in different age groups are using the app. Users of Skytsengel have responded positively and reported that the app has improved their sense of security, e.g. when walking in public spaces. Our app is not solving the problem of stalking as such, but it is an attempt to make life easier, safer and less constrained for victims of stalking. The app cannot stand alone, therefore Danish Stalking Centre is continuously lobbying for criminalizing stalking through the adoption of separate stalking laws including digital stalking.
About Danish Stalking Centre
Danish Stalking Centre is the only specialized treatment, intervention and research center in Northern Europe, and offers guidance and counseling to professionals, as well as stalking victims and stalkers who are assessed to benefit from treatment.
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