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

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 …


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  1. The BigYin

    I am sure it's not pleasant at all...

    ...but I am equally sure that being cyber-stalked does not compare to being raped or caught in a war zone. As I have not been in any of the three situations, however, I guess I am not qualified to comment.

    A bit like these researchers probably.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "I guess I am not qualified to comment"...

      ... and yet you still manage to have done so, well done you. :S

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: "I guess I am not qualified to comment"...


        you missed the last line of the comment you are replying too.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Is everyone missing the point?

      PTSD is subjective to the person suffering from said condition, they might even have got from a overly harsh parking attendant for all that it matters. The only thing that does matter is that they do have it.

      Objectively speaking cyber stalking, whilst unpleasant in the extreme, is in no way as bad as the other mentioned awful situations but that the point, its not an objective comparison.

      In fact some sufferers of PTSD have guilt over having PTSD over something that they rest of the world, probably including them, would not consider, objectively, that bad, thereby applying said layer of guilt over their PTSD and making their condition worse.

      The thing to remember is that regardless of how the wound was caused, its still a wound and it still needs treating.

      For example, a bloke gets assaulted outside a pub and sustains and open fracture, and a squaddie in combat sustains a similar open fracture.. Which wound is worse? How would you treat them differently and why?

  2. Tom 38 Silver badge

    I'm shocked

    After starting the National Centre for Cyberstalking Research, their first bit of research completely justifies their existence! Kudos. I suppose it would have been a bit embarrassing if their first report could be summed up as "Cyber stalking: not that big of a deal".

  3. jake Silver badge

    Except ...

    Unlike TheRealWorld[tm], one can always terminate one's online connection at a whim. Really. TehIntraWebTubes aren't exactly necessary for survival, nor is your access mandated by another party.

  4. Getter lvl70 Druid Silver badge

    All the Better to Sue You with, My Dear

    Not that I support cyber stalking, but this will be used as a tool for lawyers to extract mo' money out of the target who enabled this to happen to some poor anguished soul.


  5. Arctic fox

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

    Er...... No it fucking isn't sunshine. Just talk to the women and children who have been mass raped as a weapon of war in several conflicts in recent years. Then you just might, possibly, not make a complete and total arse of yourselves with such statements.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      To be fair...

      They never said it was as bad as being raped AND in a war.

    2. AdamWill

      Read more carefully.

      Well, the only person who made such a statement is the author of the Register article. He felt it appropriate to put it in quotes, even though it is not in fact a quotation of anyone, but a ragingly inaccurate paraphrase.

      The actual quotation can be found in the body of the article, and it says something entirely different: it says the incidence of PTSD in people who have been cyber-stalked is similar to the incidence of PTSD in people who have been raped or been in a war. It doesn't make any judgement whatsoever as to the comparative seriousness of those events; all it does is evaluate how often the people who've been involved in them suffered from PTSD. It's the author who put the outrageous gloss on it, inviting readers to whip themselves into a froth about ridiculous surveys from out-of-touch academics. Which you fell for hook, line and sinker.

      To illustrate, it might be the case that if you went out and found 50 people who'd fallen ten feet onto concrete, and 50 people who'd drunk a hell of a lot the night before, you'd find that 40 of each were currently suffering from a severe headache. You might write this fact down. Then the author of this article would write, in big letters, "IDIOT CLAIMS THAT 'DRINKING A LOT IS AS BAD AS FALLING TEN FEET ONTO CONCRETE'!"

    3. tmTM


      I doubt a woman (or man) could declare "sod this rubbish, I'm going to watch the telly" whilst pinned to the ground by some soul-less rapist.

    4. steviesteveo

      Bit of perspective needed

      There's a middle ground between "Cyberstalking is the worst thing ever" and "Cyberstalking: not that big of a deal".

  6. Platelet

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits

    depends on the definition of "comparable" I guess

    1) able to be compared

    2) equal

    you can certainly compare one to the other

  7. Cameron Colley

    The National Centre for Cyberstalking Research are complete idiots.

    If they had equated it to real-life stalking or harassment, then they may well have a point* but mentioning rape and combat in the same sentence as cyber stalking and equating them just shows them up to be idiots. I don't claim to know whether is is as bad, though I suspect not, but what I do know is that even in the extremely unlikely even that being cyber stalked is as bad as either** it's still bad PR to mention it.

    *Thinking about what is possible to find and do online cyber stalking is not something you can get away from by "just not using the internet" -- if someone is setting up facebook pages and dating profiles in your name you could still loose out on a job or relationship because of them.

    **I seriously doubt it, just trying to make a different point.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "Comparable" != "equating"

      As per title.

  8. Solomon Grundy

    Let me be the first

    to say that as a victim of a violent crime (robbery and severe stabbing) and someone who was cyber-stalked by a disgruntled ex-employee (unrelated events haha) there is no fucking comparison.

    This 'study' is unfair to victims of war, soldiers, rape victims, and anyone else who has been actually hurt by these violent acts.

    If it wasn't a horrible thing to suggest I'd suggest that the authors of this paper be subjected to a bit of a bit of cyber-stalking then some rape/violence in order to objectively rate their experiences and review their initial findings.

    I can't believe I'm actually pissed off at an Internet article. Damnit. Asshats.

  9. Brezin Bardout

    Nice headline

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

    Except, from what I read I cannot see them saying that at all. All they're saying, in that quote, is that the number of cases is comparable, not the severity of the condition.

    But yeah, no need to let facts get in the way of a good story.

    1. Captain Planet

      They should know that it will be mis quoted

      You are right, it doesn't actually say that. But they shouldn't mention it together like that as if they had half a brain or ever done a press release on a report before they would know that it would be mis-quoted.... unless of course they knew it would get misquoted and therefore get more publicity.

      I think it is rather pointless and justifying their existence, they have come to the shocking conclusion that something bad has a bad effect on people, and if they mention rape and war it will get loads of publicity

    2. Keeees

      Yes, that

      Besides, psych trauma isn't exactly a rational or linear or measured response...

      It's a bit like saying falling down the stairs is as bad as being in a plane crash, because the number of broken legs is comparable. The incidents themselves are wildly different in scale and impact, but the resulting trauma can indeed be similar.

      1. Brezin Bardout

        They should know that it will be mis quoted

        Well, that depends on who's doing the reporting. Pretty much to be expected from the likes of the Daily Mail. But, if you're happy with that, that's fine. I prefer my news to be a little more factual.

  10. Code Monkey


    Compare them but don't equate them.

  11. Phil 42


    Slightly OT I know, but could someone kindly remind me of the original derivation of the epithet 'trick-cyclist' in this context? I did a search on the site but could only trace it back to a Lewis story of 2007, which didn't indicate it's provenance.


    1. jake Silver badge

      @Phil 42

      1. Phil 42
        Thumb Up

        Trick cyclists


    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Code Monkey

        To be fair

        I'd say trick-cyclist, colloquially, applies equally to both professions. We can leave it to the trick-cyclists themselves to argue the toss (or give a toss) about which is which and whatnot

  12. Anonymous Coward

    cyber stalking can be bad

    and yes it does bother the people that suffer from it.

    but unlike real world damage, you do get over cyber anything. You might even learn to grow some thickskin and learn to tolerate trolls and ignore them. I don't believe that you will be left with long lasting scares from cyber anything.

    real world on the other hands..... the incident will remain with you till the day you die. I'll dare say that you will never be the same again!

    so while the short term damage is emotionally similar, the long term isn't even close enough to be compared!

  13. Kevin 43

    Working at the National Centre for Cyberstalking Research is as bad as being Ken Clarke.


  14. Not Fred31

    the correct headling should have been

    "National Centre for Cyberstalking Research finds that cyberstalking research is important"

  15. Dave 15 Silver badge

    some people

    What sort of stupid bull is this. Clearly there is a HUGE difference between being raped or shot to pieces and reading an occasionally impolite email.

    This is just part of a campaign to soften the public up to allowing more control of the internet. Its clearly worrying various governments that people used the internet to arrange the revolts in north Africa, the petrol tanker strike a few years back, to question the stupid reports and other bull coming from government propoganda headquarters.

    It is all about finding an excuse to control us where none exists.

  16. Tieger


    well, they're saying that the number of cases of PTSD following cyber-stalking is comparable(presumably in proportion rather than absolute? i'm not sure, but if its absolute its a fairly irrelevant figure.*) to that following rape/war. which implies that being cyber-stalked is just as likely to leave you severely traumatised as rape/war is.

    i'm going to assume they're being deliberately deceptive here, and using 'comparable' in its technically-correct usage of 'can be compared' rather than the generally-used-usage of 'similar'

    * - its irrelevant because its meaningless if they're talking absolute values. lets say theres 1 million people with PTSD in the world. and we say 'the number of people in the world with PTSD is similar to the number of people that have been in PTSD-inducing-situations and have PTSD, therefore being in the world is just as bad as being in a PTSD-inducing-situation!'. its utterly nonsensical. so they must be talking proportions.

  17. Colin Millar

    "frustrated with the lack of help and support"

    Poor dears - here's some help:

    Turn the phone off

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Didn't exist back in my days...

    As an ex-soldier whose hardest challenge probably was to find the nearest pub in a secluded area I obviously don't know nothing about PTSD. But when I look around at the 'general population' it seemeth they suffer from PTSD when they get a bad mark at school or foal another little cheeky rascal at the age of 18.

    1. Steven Roper
      Thumb Up

      As an ex-soldier, you probably knew PTSD

      as the syndrome called "shell shock." It's the same thing.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        But "shell shock" is still orders of magnitude ...

        ... different form the number of utterly trivial things that lead to claimed PTSD, and does not render the OP's comments any less valid.

  19. Tegne

    Jimmy Carr needs to alter one of his jokes after this revelation

    Q: What's worse than finding a worm in your apple?

    A: Cyberstalking

    Hmm. Not quite the same impact as his original punchline.


    Cyberstalking is devastating

    Let me give you two real scenarios. A women is being cyberstalked. He knows where she lives, works and how she gets to work. He describe all this in detail. It goes on for months he tells her things so she knows he is watching her. She has no idea who he is. He threatens to push her in front of a tube train. She is too terrified to go to work via the tube - because she never knows if the stranger next to her is her stalker. She quits her job.

    A man teacher is stalked. He is accused of being a pedophile. The parents of his students, the school the local newspaper are contacted. He is investigated. He doesn't know who is doing it or why. He keeps his job but the stress and the financial loss of getting legal advice has caused him to be depressed. He considers changing careers.

    Stalking destroys lives. It leads to homicide and suicide. It is a crime where someone is forcing you to have an intimate relationship with them - against your will . A victim described it as "mental rape".

    I could give numerous stories of devastating effects of stalking. Victims suffer from PTSD because the devastating impact of stalking on their lives.

  21. Rafe

    I dont think so

    As someone who was in Kuwait when Iraq invaded (ok I was only 14 but still knew what was going on) and was subsequently taken up to Iraq to be a hostage and had our family split up (mum, myself and my 2 sister were held in Baghdad and Dad was taken back to Basra) and has in the last few years been hunted via the internet and had a lot of threats when i've been found etc (by the ex wife, ok probably not as severe as some of these cyber bullies but still not nice) i can categorically say that for me the war was by far the most disturbing. Its easy to turn your pc off, ignore messages before you read them etc etc

    1. Tegne

      Cyberstalking is Stalking

      Let's tack 'Cyber' onto the front of something dreadful that's been going on for hundreds, if not thousands of years and see whether we can scare enough people that we can make some money.

    2. Tom 38 Silver badge

      OK but

      Neither of those things are cyber stalking.

      The principal element in the first scenario is a stalker, not a cyber stalker. Stalking pre-dates the internet, and the only thing (which you don't even make clear in that scenario) is that the threats come over an online medium, rather than over phone or mail or in person.

      The second scenario is exactly the same. With or without the internet, lurid allegations can be spread within a community leading to the same issues.

      i don't think you will find anyone arguing that stalking is not bad, but this is specifically about cyber stalking - and cyber stalking is nonsense:

      Someone keeps emailing you? Shit list them

      Someone keeps IMing you? Shit list them

      Someone keeps pestering you on forums you frequent? Ignore them

      Once it stops being cyber stalking, and becomes actual stalking, like the examples you provide, then it is an issue. Cyber stalking is not. The internet pervades every aspect of life these days, and characterizing 'stalking which uses the internet as a communication medium' as cyber stalking does you no justice.

  22. mark 63 Silver badge

    National centre?

    "the new National Centre for Cyberstalking Research at Bedfordshire uni"

    Is this something they made up out of the blue, or the government delegated it to them?

    If the former I think I'll set up a rival "National Centre for Cyberstalking Research"

    I could get the URL , bet they havent bothered.

    And I could make it a better "National Centre for Cyberstalking Research" simply by not being so fucking stupid!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Bedfordshire Uni is made up

  23. Jean-Paul

    Does anyone read the article?

    it is not even a mis-quote, it doesn't even use words like as bad as...It merely states that it exceed the occurence.

    Boy aren't we a sensitive bunch today.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    F*cking block/unfriend buttons

    How do they work?

  25. Dave Bell

    A couple of details...

    1: There is, Lewis, a difference between a "trick-cyclist" (or "psychiatrist") and a psychologist.

    2: On page 15 of the report, it states that over half the cases in the survey started with an offline contact. That matters rather a lot, if you want to assess how somebody is affected. It's not crazy to worry about the situation bouncing back into the real, physical, world. And, yes, feel free to wonder if that hasn't inflated some of the numbers. Is the "cyber" element just another channel to use?

    There's some aspects of the report that seem to come right out of "How to Lie With Statistics", such as the pie charts drawn with perspective.

  26. T0ny


    "many victims of online or other electronic harassment suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder"

    In the same way that many victims of minor car accidents suffer whiplash injuries.

    That's what you get for conducting your research in the queue outside claims direct.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    And what

    Is the verdict on women and even men who have been cyber stalked, tracked down and raped? did they say it was about even for both experiances? doubt it, being forced to do something against your will by fear of being killed isnt like some idiot spamming you and appearing on your MSN list.

    Dept of the blindingly obvious press release.....water is wet

    that justifies our budget, next year we'll say beans make you fart.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Comparable how?

    They say 'comparable' in that being both cyber-stalked and being in a warzone can result in PTSD and 'reactions ... of a negative nature.'

    But just because they're comparable in type obviously doesn't ipso facto mean they're comparable in magnitude. Having your head lopped off is comparable in type to cutting yourself with a razor. Doesn't mean they're 'comparable' simpliciter.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As someone who suffered from both...

    I could control the "cyber" stalking. Turn the computer off, get a new email address etc. This left a real-world element but that's not what they're claiming to study.

    Believe it or not, there was no option to "turn off" a rape. Couldn't just get a new email address and control who had that one and wind down the previous one.

    Its pretty clear to my mind which event caused PTSD...

  30. alwarming

    If I am "selling" wine...

    ...I will say that it's as important as grapes in your diet.

    Hard to believe any study when authors are trying to earmark themselves as the expert in a field.


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