"I had lawyers telling me they didn't know anything about Internet harassment and judges telling me I was wasting their time," wrote Franklin. "One judge told me point blank that I didn't belong in her court, saying she had more important cases of abuse to deal with--because I had no physical signs of trauma, she didn't think my battle mattered."
This is a facet cyberbullies benefit from--directly or indirectly. Physical abuse leaves physical evidence. Online abuse leaves a trail of hurtful text and Photoshopped-images. This is difficult for busy judges to understand when they have a full docket of legal cases. But that's no consolation to a victim of cyberstalking.
"Adding to my anxiety, some of my 'friends' told me I was making a big deal out of nothing. I found out who my true friends are--the cream rises to the top," wrote Franklin. "I became exhausted, depressed. But all the while, I continued to fight to expose this bully and regain my peace of mind. At every step, I studied the laws myself, becoming my own legal advocate."
She filed a court order in the New York Supreme Court to get his IP address, filed another court order to get his physical street address from the ISP, learned about cellphone spoofing and got a subpoena for US telco AT&T to produce phone records, which showed that the alleged perpetrator had been behind that particular nastiness too. And: "a police detective told me there was a criminal complaint against [the alleged perpetrator] from another woman, in 2008--for alleged stalking and harassment. I wasn't alone."
Franklin recently filed a lawsuit against the individual to collect damages for stalking, harassment, criminal impersonation, and defamation. " I refuse to live in fear, quietly hoping he will go away. My goal now is to help educate people about online crimes and how to fight them," she wrote.
The world needs more Carla Franklins.
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