Monday, January 26, 2015

(Series Piece 11) Anna Kavanaugh - Syndicated Columnist. Column - Cyber Abuse: The Virtual Violent Crime

By David Simms, Senior Contributor
The Global Institute for Cyber Safety and Standards

Today we proudly publish for syndication this week's installment of our featured columnist, Anna Kavanaugh, and her brilliant column, Cyber Abuse: The Virtual Violent Crime. This is Series Piece 11 and an excellent read in her column series. Anna's is a distinctive and ardent voice of expertise and wisdom in defining and describing what she rightly deems a global pandemic of virtual confusion whereby a societal breakdown of empathy and compassion confuse and pose serious threat to legal boundaries and civilised conduct. In this piece she expertly discusses how our society victimizes its victims and how our current online civilization enables cyber-abusers to reign over the life of their target for years, and the residual traumatic effects to a victim, including the common diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder leading many victims to fulfill suicide. It is our honour to now present you with another perceptive and powerful installment of Anna's weekly column. Comments are open on the full article page for feedback and to encourage discussion.

Cyber Abuse: The Virtual Violent Crime. (Series Piece 11)
Written by Anna Kavanaugh, Syndicated Columnist
Published for syndication by: The Global Institute for Cyber Safety and Standards (GICSS)

It is an ugly truth. Our society victimizes its victims. To face that reality is a heavy cross to bear. That’s why we don’t.

This is the real world. We all know it can be rough. We are taught that to survive it we just have to learn to take a punch and turn the other cheek more often than not. Sage advice but it neglects to acknowledge the certitude that there are only so many hits a person can take before they break. This is real life. And if you have been targeted by a cyber-abuser, you already know they will go to any length to end yours.

When revictimization is discussed it is generally in reference to the recurrence of extreme personal violations seen in survivors of rape, sexual abuse, and domestic assault cases. Those are the instances that get most talked about, as they should. Unfortunately, our social and judicial system is geared for the revictimization of victims in a myriad of other circumstances as well and, because it is, too many of them are falling through the cracks.

It happens with victims of voyeurism. Not only does a victim suffer the initial discovery and resulting trauma in realizing their most intimate moments have been videotaped or recorded, they are made to suffer it multiple times. The police become involved and countless officers watch the evidence as do the victim’s attorney and legal team. The details of that evidence are spelled out in court documents and then the victim must recount it as it is replayed again at trial only this time, they must do so in the company of the very offender who so grievously violated them. Similarly, this is also what rape victims must endure. These are just two extreme examples to demonstrate the ongoing trauma and psychological damage that our system, by its very nature, imposes on victims seeking justice, remedy, and relief for the criminal offenses committed against them.

The virtual violent crime of cyber-abuse is about dehumanization. Cyber-abusers aim to kill. They do this by exploiting social media platforms to relentlessly assault the self-esteem and dignity of their victim, and by launching deliberate “kill campaigns” designed to assassinate the reputation, career, livelihood, relationships, and overall life of their target. It is not a singular event and allows abusers to reign over their victims in the public domain for years. The residual effects of such a campaign also creates ongoing trauma and damage as the planted false realities and blatant lies about a victim can be indefinitely preserved on the internet and available for perpetual access and propagation.

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