'Being cyber-stalked is as bad as being raped, or in a war'

Amazing claim from, erm, a new cyberstalk research centre

A new survey into the phenomenon of cyber-stalking has made the remarkable claim that many victims of online or other electronic harassment suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in very much the same way as soldiers who have been in combat or people who have been raped.

The new report, "Cyberstalking in the United Kingdom", has just been put out by the new National Centre for Cyberstalking Research at Bedfordshire uni. It is the work of computing profs Carsten Marple and Antony Brown, and trick-cyclist Emma Short, and a final draft copy can be read here in PDF (38-page/3.1MB). It draws on survey data to deliver various statistics and claims, but the headliner is this one (our emphasis):

The results indicate that the prevalence of PTSD following cyber-stalking exceeds the occurrence in a general population following trauma and is comparable to other extreme specific traumatic events such as sexual assault and combat ... the victims' reactions are of a negative nature and include fear, stress, anxiety, as well as an erosion of trust in the self and other people.

"The psychological effects can be devastating, producing verifiable psychological trauma and damage, regardless of whether the victim ever actually meets their harasser," write the authors, all of whom work at the National Centre for Cyberstalking Research.

"One clear message from the data collected is that many of the victims of cyber harassment are frustrated with the lack of help and support they feel is available," they add. ®

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