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How to protect yourself against cyberstalkers in 2021

Tutorial / 28 July 2021

by Mike Gagnon

Hey comics comrades! If you've been following the developments of All Day breakfast Productions as it grows, forms and takes shape, the very attentive may have noticed some details regarding issues in my personal life that I'd like to put to bed before All Day Breakfast takes off and absorbs most of my attention.

Not too long ago, I blew the whistle and got out of a situation where I had been blackmailed, gaslit and cyberstalked by a colleague for years.

Through talking about the issues I've faced and the trauma caused by them to my mental health, I've learned that I am definitely not alone. There are many people out there in similar situations, be it with work, like mine, or in personal relationships.

In the interest of serving the public good, I'd like to share some notes, templates and strategies on how to deal with this kind of situation, should you find yourself in it. A public service announcement, if you will.


Step One -

Go through proper channels and do not fear negative reactions and doubts from others. Especially if you are dealing with this situation at work. Narcissists and sociopaths are the kind of people who will act this way. They have probably observed and figured out all the chinks in your armour before you even realize that you've been targeted. These people create successful campaigns of personal terror by letting your own mind analyze and come to natural conclusions, then they prey on the fear that causes and amplify it.

If you haven't dotted your i's and crossed your t's, this person will know and will jump on any failure in process or personality that you may have to undermine your claim. Regardless of what may happen to your work or career, no job is worth suffering through psychological torture, especially when you consider that the ultimate goal of gaslighting is often to drive the target insane or to self-harm and suicide.

In order to escape this torture you have to do a few things; pay attention, do not be afraid, put your foot down and mean it.

By paying attention, what I mean is, use the bastard's techniques against them. Don't show that you are suspicious. If you think someone is targeting you maliciously, don't announce right away. Pay attention. Analyze this person the way they did to you. These kind of people are manipulative and methodic. Very often they have anticipated that you will eventually figure out what they are doing and have planned for that. Often part of their plot is to get kicks by watching you struggle to defend yourself and look crazy.

Realize you are dealing with someone highly intelligent, but with a brain that is wired and thinks in a way that you will likely never understand. This person expects you to eventually figure it out and watch you destroy yourself by trying to expose them. It's very likely they've already manipulated other co-workers and undermined some co-workers opinions of you with rumours and distorted information.

By paying attention you can determine who is manipulated by this person, who is in their “clique” at work and who is loyal or idolizes this person, who may be very charismatic on the surface.

Why should you not be afraid? – Psychological warfare can be horrifying, mostly because the person targeting you plants the seeds in your mind that allow your imagination to run wild with worst possible scenarios and questioning how this person could want to harm or destroy you mentally. These type of abusers count on you to create some of the ideas and torture from your own imagination to help you terrorize them.

Remind yourself that the reason that these people use secrecy to direct psychological attacks from the shadows, if often because they are cowards who fear confrontation and are deeply insecure. They aren't really confident in their feelings of negativity toward you or they would have handled their issues with you through proper channels in a legitimate way. They count on your imagination to wonder how crazy they are and if they are doing something to harm you. Often a direct confrontation will cause them to shrink away and disappear, until they find another target.

BUT USE CAUTION. Don't just explode and confront them at work. That could backfire and get you fired. The best thing you can do is talk with a direct supervisor and if that person does not provide a satisfactory resolution to the issues, then escalate it to the next person above them. If you want to prove your case and prove your point, the best thing you can do is demonstrate that you have exhausted all options internally to try to resolve the situation in-house, before going outside of the work environment. Again these abusers count on your fear and insecurity to keep you from speaking up and prolong toying with you. Yes, HR might side with them. Unfortunately a lot of work places will side with the abuser out of fear of word getting out and causing negative publicity or making the company responsible legally or financially for the emotional damage done in the work place. You NEED to understand that if that happens, that's a flaw in the person and company policy you are working for. They clearly don't value you or a healthy work environment. You have to be willing to risk your job, while having the confidence to know that if your employer reacts negatively or fails to support you, that doesn't mean you are wrong, it means the company you work for is more interested in protecting themselves and the business than their employees. If they try to convince you that you haven't been targeted or victimized and you know you have, don't let them intimidate you or cause doubt.

IF your employer does not take action to resolve the situation and you've exhausted all options, then that's when it is time to start contacting and considering things like police, lawyers, restraining orders, media, lawsuits and a personal blog.

When you know you are being targeted and have had enough, YOU NEED TO BE FIRM. Put your foot down. Don't make idle threats. Whether it is directly, through HR or work supervisors or online, make your abuser aware that you know of their abusive behaviour and targeting. Make it clear you will no longer tolerate it and if it continues, you will take action. Again, don't make idle threats. Follow through. If that person can't control their own mania enough to back off when exposed, make it clear that this is going to result in a public exposure of their behaviour with legal repercussions and DO IT. Don't let money or finances prevent you from defending yourself. DO some research in your area, you will likely find a lawyer in your area willing to take the case and add your legal expenses to any resulting lawsuit or settlement. This person needs to know and believe that you will defend yourself and once they see that the consequences may not be worth the entertainment they got from bullying you, they will likely completely pull away, because in reality, they are hiding their own fear of judgment for their actions.

E-mails are considered legal documents admissible in court. Very often an abuser will attempt to save face when losing control. If you have any correspondence via text or e-mail with the person targeting you, save all of it, even something unrelated or innocuous may turn out to be relevant and fit with some of the outstanding puzzle pieces. Sometimes it's as simple as the abuser setting up their target by encouraging behaviour or work methods that don't meet company policy or regulation. It gives them something to point to and claim that your work is flawed or subpar to distract from the real issue of their abuse.

Gas lighters often use the “stupid” defense in order to save face. In my case, my abuser sent an e-mail CC'd to the supervisor above them, that they had no idea what I was talking about. A very common gaslighting tactic.

I responded with a clear cease and desist letter, briefly detailing the situation, CC'd to multiple members of management and administration. It's not a bad idea to even CC local or regional law enforcement. Because the recipient will be able to see who was CC'd, they will know that you mean business. If this happens to you, you should do the same. Here's a template that you can copy and paste and fill in with your own details:

Mr./Ms./Mz./Mrs. {Last name here} – {Keep a formal and professional tone.}


I do not believe that you are unaware of your actions and the targeting you have committed towards me.


In the last {amount of time you believe you were targeted}, I believe that you have directed and targeted psychological abuse toward myself, by way of {in this paragraph detail the type and nature of abuse, targeting, length of time, and refer to any supporting documentation that you may have saved.}


In this time, my own well being and mental health has been impacted. I have {in this paragraph, detail the doubt, mental anguish, how the abuse has caused doubt and anxiety around the work environment and any impact on your personal life.}


From this point forward, you are to have no contact with me or involvement with anyone who may be able to give you further information about me. If the abusive behaviour continues or I am contacted again by you in any way, including a response to this e-mail, it will not be me who responds, but a legal or law enforcement representative. {Remember how I said not to bluff or make idle threats? Here's a great example. If you get anything, or even a weird message from an anonymous person after sending this, start talking to police and lawyers and pay the money needed for a lawyer to respond with an official legal statement requesting to be left alone or legal options will be pursued.}


Sincerely,


{Your name, position, signature, etc.}


Let me reiterate, if they contact you after you send a message like this, don't wait. Get the ball rolling with the legal industry. I personally look at criminal charges with law enforcement first, as I have no desire to get involved in a battle with some gaslighting asshole over money, and police tend to send a stronger message that scare these kinds of cowards more than a lawsuit.

Do not back down. You do not deserve to be tortured, no matter how bad your own self-image is. These people can sense your insecurity and low self-worth, that's why they targeted you, because they know that those with low self-worth are less likely to come forward and more likely to suffer silently, because they think they deserve it. You don't deserve it.

Above all, save as much proof of your claim as possible, get real legal and law enforcement professionals involved. BE PREPARED TO GO TO COURT.

If the abuser is arrogant enough they will laugh and taunt and not back down until you have to go to court. Don't be afraid. Tell your story and the truth and facts of the situation as best as you can. Abusers count on self-doubt and that you'll be too afraid to move forward with the expense and stress of court.

Remember that if you walk away, this person is going to continue abusing you or another target and may become worse, as their ego will be bolstered by what they see as a “win”. They will play on your self-doubt and try to make you think your legal action is silly or frivolous or baseless. Don't let them get in your head or back down. If you do, they win.

Bring your evidence and trust in the fact that any judge has at least a fair sense of truth, reality and common sense.

I'm preparing for the event that I'll have to take my own abuser to court and thanks to the fact that I planned and did my due diligence, I have years of e-mails, texts, correspondence, evidence and witnesses and allies. I have no hesitation or reservations about entering a court room with this.

If you find yourself being targeted or tormented this way online or outside of the work world, it's a bit simpler and easier. Block this person on email, phone & social media. If they somehow reach you after this, send a cease and desist letter and start talking to legal or law enforcement representatives.

Above all, remember that the stronger you appear the weaker your abuser will feel. Often, a brave and positive face will scare a bully off, because they feel impotent and inconsequential after planning so hard to torture you.

IF you have further questions or would like to read more details on how to handle these situations, don't be afraid to comment or send us an e-mail and I'll do my best to expand on this topic in the future and perhaps in the community forums of the website.

Thanks for reading,

Mike