Spousal abuse takes many forms in Illinois. Even when a person has taken the steps to put a stop to it by moving forward with the legal process, some abusers might try to circumnavigate the law by transferring their stalking behaviors to the online realm. What they might not realize is that online stalking is also illegal. Understanding how the law defines and handles this issue is important when dealing with it and trying to put a stop to it.
Using electronic means to communicate with a person and causing that person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of another person is committing emotional abuse known as cyberstalking. It also occurs when electronic communication is used to harass another person on a minimum of two occasions and makes threats for physical harm, sexual abuse, confinement or restraint, with that threat directed at the individual or a family member. If the family member or the individual is placed in reasonable fear of this actually happening or if the alleged cyberstalker commissions another to perform these acts, it is also illegal.
The creation of a website without justifiable reason for doing so, that has statements that harass the victim and that is accessible by one or more third persons for a minimum of 24 hours can be considered cyberstalking. This will be true if there are threats communicated to the individual by the harasser. As in the above examples, if it leads to apprehension of the threats being carried out or another is solicited to commit these acts, it is considered cyberstalking. The law treats these acts seriously, and a conviction on cyberstalking charges can be a class four felony for the first act and a class three felony for second or subsequent acts and convictions.
Domestic abusers might be under the impression that these acts are not on a level with the actual carrying out of physical and emotional abuse. However, spousal abuse can take many different forms, and using electronic communications in any way to commit these acts is treated seriously by the legal system. Those who are confronted with this form of abuse need to protect themselves and their families. Since this post cannot serve as legal advice for any one individual’s specific set of circumstances, those concerned about online stalking may want to speak to a legal professional.