The New Normal: Why Cyberstalkers are Targeting Successful Women and How They Are Fighting Back
When Tina Hodge’s tech vlog began to gain recognition, companies from around the country were putting her on planes to come out, speak and help them stay ahead of the digital curve. Though Tina loved all the extra travel and while the notoriety was an unexpected perk, interacting with her followers was something that she looked forward to most. Even from high up in the air, she stayed current on her vlogs. She frequently posted to her social medias and she became a recognizable voice at some of the largest tech publications the world over. Before she knew it, she had grown an impressive following, a feat that even landed her a book deal.
One morning, that would all change…
The Dark Side of Success
Tina awoke to more Facebook comments than usual. Her first thought was a recent appearance in a national newspaper had garnered her page more traffic. However, she quickly realized that every message was from the same person. One after the other, the messages kept coming. Before the end of the afternoon, Tina had been threatened with sexual violence, assault and murder. The total of messages she had received in one short day were more than she had received in a month’s time. Tina had gotten around 2000 comments last month – if that helps to put it in perspective. It took just one day to far exceed that number.
This went on for about 5 months on various medias. It got so bad that Tina stopped going out. She stopped eating. She stopped calling friends. Because her stalker had managed to describe items in her bedroom closet – she moved to another state. It was later discovered that the stalker had installed a remote access virus on to her computer but because of the many re-routes and the nature of RAT viruses… her stalker still remains a phantom.
After a year, Tina went back to work although she now writes under a pen name and has had to build her tech following from the ground up. She said it was like starting all over again – and it was. But Tina represents so many women out there who are being targeted for their success and are finding ways to fight back safely. She is living proof that women like her can stand up to the opposition and come out swinging.
Hope For a Better Tomorrow
“At first I got upset for what was happening to me, then I got angry because I didn’t do anything to deserve it… then I felt genuinely bad for the person behind it all.” Tina says. “I refuse to be the person who hates because someone else hates. I will not give up my power to that. We live in a world where people need to cut other people down to lift themselves up and it saddens me to think that someone out there is so down that they need to push so very hard to feel elevated. Where did this person slip through the cracks? Who failed them? Where did they make that left turn into hatefulness? It makes me wonder what course of events made them who they are but it also makes me hopeful that in choosing to not get bitter… victims like me can make the world better.” With a statement like that, it is easy to see why all of Tina’s followers tuned in and why she grew so big so quickly. She had a lot of heart.
The Price of Success: Changing the Story
Many people say that dealing with these kinds of abuses and obsessive readers just comes with the price of success these days… it’s the “new normal” – but no one should have to live in fear. While no two cyber-stalkers or hackers are alike, at the heart of it they all have one thing in common. They love to create chaos, they love to hide in the shadows and they thrive on instilling fear in their victims. If they can do this then, in their minds, they have won…
However, this is all relative. Mark Twain once said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear–not absence of fear.” He was right. It is this fear that can drive us to reach greater destinations and continue our journeys even when we feel like giving up. In many ways, the “new normal” is creating a new generation of women who are courageous in spite of their circumstances, brave in spite of their fear and even better in their industries as a result of it. Sometimes changing the story is as easy as simply continuing to tell it.
If you or your business has been touched by cybercrime, know that you are not alone. In fact, in the year 2014 alone the FBI reported an impressive 269,422 reports of cybercrime. Whether you have come in contact with a stalker, a troll or a hacker, remember there are people all around you who care and then… reach out to them. We care too and we would love to help you to develop the kind of interface that helps you keep yourself and your business safe. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help. In the meantime, do not be halted by fear but instead be driven by it. It is, after all, the very thing that threatens to destroy us that makes heroes out of us all.