If you have ever had the experience of going to your email box and found an unwelcome email you'll agree that it can really spoil your day. Email harassment can run a very broad range of degrees. From mildly annoying to terrifyingly dangerous. You should consider this carefully and react accordingly.
Let's say you open an email and to from someone you recognize from an online chat room or blog. They are offended by something you said and they really let you have it. How should you react? You should act thoughtfully and carefully as if you're dealing with an angry stranger that has appeared on your door step. The last thing you should do is "flame" them back and respond rudely or hatefully. This could start a war that can escalate and go on for years.
Keep in mind that you really don't know anything about this person. They could be mentally or emotionally disturbed and possibly dangerous.
Now lets say you receive an anonymous harassing email and you have no idea who sent it but it's obvious this person knows a great deal about your life. Once again the way you respond to email harassment can affect your life for years to come so be thoughtful before you reply. Try to explain to the person that this behavior is unpleasant for both of you. You both have better more productive thing to do with your time and you'd like to settle your differences amicably.
How to respond to email harassment
Should you report it to the abuse dept of their ISP or email provider or not? If you think it's serious and you really want to identify the person it is actually best NOT to report them to their ISP and get the account closed. That will only make it harder for an expert to trace the emails and identify the person harassing you. Even if the account gets closed they can just open another one and take further efforts to conceal their identity. Possibly even resort to proxy servers and re mailers.
How not to respond to Email Harassment
Do not get into a war with the harasser. If police become involved they might brush it off as a mutual combat and not see you as a victim Do not make threats. Do not tell your friends or family about the harassment or that you are hiring an investigator.
Tips on how to deal with Email Harassment :
1. Don't delete the Emails.
2. Keep a record of the harassing emails, both on disc and print them out.
3. Make a list of suspects. Try to obtain their email addresses and even copies of their emails and headers.
4. If you are being threatened or stalked call the police. Many times they will not put much effort into an investigation but at least you'll have a record.
5. Hire a professional that knows how to trace emails and identify the sender. They can also advise you on the specifics of your case since they deal with these things everyday.
However things turn out just keep in mind that you are dealing with someone that has personal issues and is unable to deal with them in a mature civilized manner. This alone should concern you because if a person does not understand how to deal with basic personal boundaries who knows how far they may go in their campaign. It may go beyond simple email harassment into a real life assault.
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