Cyberstalking and Online Threats

For the last month or so, I’ve been blogging about cyber bullying and harassment.  These blogs have focused on the posting of nude pictures of women without their consent by Penn State University’s Kappa Delta Rho fraternity, legislative proposals to deal with rape culture in cyberspace,and an announcement about a Congressional Hearing on cyber stalking.

These blogs are based on my work with a coalition of people concerned about online threats targeting mostly women and girls.  The participants in this coalition include members, professionals, and leaders at The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the National Organization for Women, and the National Council of Women’s Organizations.

Last week, the Congressional briefing I posted about was seen by about 2,300 people via a live Twitter feed. This briefing was held by in coordination with The Victims’ Rights Caucus (Representatives Judge Poe (R-TX) and Jim Costa (D-CA), co-chairs) and Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA). Panelists included

  • Michelle Garcia, Director of the Stalking Resource Center;
  • Zoe Quinn, Video Game Developer and Co-founder of Crash Override;
  • John Wilkinson, Attorney Advisor at AEquitas: The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women; and
  • Danielle Keats Citron, Professor at the University of Maryland School of Law and author of Hate Crimes in Cyberspace

This coalition of women’s organizations created and has now distributed a one-page flyer highlighting the problem of cyber stalking and online threats that mostly target women.  Here’s a photograph of that flyer.

photograph of the Fact Sheet on Cyberstalking and Online Threats

Fact Sheet on Cyberstalking and Online Threats

If you’d like a pdf version of this flyer, you can download it with this link: Cyberstalking-and-Online-Threats

Congressional Briefing on Cyber Stalking Announcement

picture of a sign that says "Stop Hate Crime"

Stop Cyber Bullying and Stalking

The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence,

The National Organization for Women

and

The National Council of Women’s Organizations

Invite you to a Special Briefing

 Cyberstalking and Online Threats

 Wednesday, April 15, 2015

10:00 a.m.

2237 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC

 In coordination with The Victims’ Rights Caucus (Representatives Judge Poe (R-TX) and Jim Costa (D-CA), co-chairs) and Representative Katherine Clark (D-Mass)

Presenters Include:

Michelle Garcia, Director of the Stalking Resource Center

Zoe Quinn, Video Game Developer and Co-founder of Crash Override

John Wilkinson, Attorney Adviser at AEquitas: The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women

Danielle Keats Citron, Lois K. Macht Research Professor and Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and author of Hate Crimes in Cyberspace

For information and to RSVP:  Rachel Graber at rgraber@ncadv.org, (202)467-8714

 * Interested advocates who can’t attend the meeting can watch a live stream via twitter.  On Wednesday morning at 10 a.m., tune into the National Center for Victim’s of Crime’s twitter site @CrimeVictimsOrg. Go to the link in the post that says #Periscope and click on the random letters and the video should appear.

For folks who do not use Twitter, go to www.twitter.com and follow the instructions on the website to create an account. Once you have logged in, type @CrimeVictimsOrg into the search box in the upper right corner to find NCVC’s page. Each Tweet is similar to a Facebook post, but the number of characters are limited. Click on the link in the post that says #Periscope to view the video. Do NOT click directly on #Periscope; the link you want to click on is the string of random characters following the word.

 

Thanks to Pat Reuss, who works for both the National Task Force and NOW for forwarding this information regarding the briefing and for her work with members of NOW, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the National Council of Women’s Organizations, and the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence that are helping to spread the word about cyber stalking and bullying of women and who are advocating for improved legislation and law enforcement to end this form of abuse against women and girls.

House Republicans Introduce Partisan VAWA that Fails to Protect ALL Victims

NOW Board Supporting VAWA 2-24-13 editedToday, I am presenting a guest blog by my dear friend and colleague Pat Reuss. Pat describes herself as “a longtime women’s rights activist pretending to be retired and currently serving as a policy adviser to NOW [National Organization for Women] and the National Task Force [to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women].”

Pat has a history several decades-long advocating for a comprehensive Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). She first started working on this issue in the early 1990’s.  At that time, she worked as the policy director for what was then called the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (now known as Legal Momentum).  In that capacity, she worked very closely with then Senator, now Vice-President Joe Biden to write the first VAWA passed by Congress and signed into law in 1994.

This is Pat’s statement calling on anti-violence advocates to contact their representative in the US House of Representatives to vote for the comprehensive Senate-passed version to reauthorize VAWA:

The Republican’s version of VAWA, which substitutes the Senate’s inclusive, comprehensive version of S.47 for a bill that excludes effective protections for LGBT, immigrant, tribal and campus victims, will likely be on the House floor this Thursday.  The National Task Force [to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women] (NTF) and NOW oppose this [House substitute] bill.  We need to call our Representatives and firmly ask them to vote against the House Republican Leader’s substitute VAWA and ask them to vote for the field-approved VAWA passed in the Senate.

Tomorrow [February 27], Representatives Issa (R-CA) and Cole (R-OK) will ask the Rules committee to allow them to offer an amendment to replace the House’s flawed tribal provisions with improved language that will provide effective, constitutionally sound protections for Native victims of domestic violence. Call your Representatives and ask them to tell House leadership to accept these amendments.

78 Senators from both parties and over 1,300 local, state and national professional and policy organizations support the Senate-passed bill as do law enforcement officials, health care professionals, community program and service providers, and the tens of millions of survivors and their families, friends and loved ones who rely on and have benefited from and used the services and resources provided by the 19-year-old law.

It must be noted that after months of tireless efforts by advocates working with the Republican leadership staff, there are some small but very important improvements in this substitute and the bill is not the punitive version of last year’s House bill. 

That said, the [House] Republican version of the bill  fails victims in a number of critical ways:

  • Fails to include the LGBT provisions from the Senate bill. 
  • Fails to include “stalking” among the list of crimes covered by the U visa (a critical law enforcement tool that encourages immigrant victims to assist with the investigation or prosecution of certain enumerated crimes); current law already includes domestic violence and sexual assault, among others, and the Senate bill’s inclusion of “stalking” recognizes the serious threat this crime poses to safety.
  • Provides non-tribal batterers with additional tools to manipulate the justice system, takes away existing protections for Native women by limiting existing tribal power to issue civil orders of protection against non-Native abusers, while weakening protections for Native women.
  • Contains harsh administrative penalties and hurdles for small struggling programs and an additional layer of bureaucracy through the office of the Attorney General.
  • Drops important provisions in the Senate bill that deal with improving campus safety and that work toward erasing the rape kit backlog.
  • Weakens protections for victims in public housing.

We must oppose this partisan substitute and pass the Senate version of VAWA.  201 Democrats are sponsors of H.R. 11, the House replica of the Senate bill as introduced. 19 Republican Representatives have asked the House Republican leaders to pass a bipartisan bill that “reaches all victims” and dozens more Republicans support some or all of the Senate provisions that are not included in the Republican VAWA imposter.

BIPARTISAN ACTION ITEM: Call your Democratic House members to ensure that they will oppose the Republican leadership’s substitute and support the “real” S. 47, the Senate passed bill.

Find out if your Republican Representative is one of the 19 who supports a bipartisan, inclusive VAWA and ask them step up and to oppose the Republican leader’s substitute and demand and support a vote on the Senate bill:

  1. Call or email the 19 (Poe R-TX and Ros-Lehtinen R-FL have added their names) who signed the letter to House leadership. See letter and signatories here. Names and contact information here.
  2. Call or email the 7 Members who voted against last years’ harmful, non-inclusive Republican VAWA.
  3. Call or write the 26 House members who have interest in one or some of the Senate’s inclusive provisions.

Update Wednesday evening February 26:

Thanks to your calls and emails and tweets (or however you interacted with your US Rep,), it looks like our push-back to stop the watered-down version of VAWA is starting to work.

A Politico.com report at 6:48 this evening (February 26) states that “House Republicans seem to be resigned that their version of the Violence Against Women Act is a loser with their own members and are likely to pass the Senate bill this week without changes.”

Let’s keep up the pressure. Call your Representative tomorrow and tell him/her to vote for the original Senate version of S.47.