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Protect yourself from cyberstalking

Published: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 @ 5:29 PM

Rebecca Dean discusses how her cyberstalking experience affected her health.

"I'm going to kill you. Oh, Yeah, trust me," said a Wisconsin woman in a YouTube video to Rebecca Dean of Springfield. Dean said she has been the victim of a cyber-stalker whom she has never met for the past two years. The woman began verbally attacking her in a YouTube live chatroom with dozens of messages and videos. 

PART 1: Greene County cracks down on cyberstalker

"It's a nightmare you can't wake up out of," said Dean. "It's an awful feeling and you can't wash it off."

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Dean said she asked the woman to stop. Then, a judge in Clark County granted Dean a civil stalking protection order, but the harassment continues. 

MORE: 5 shocking things you need to know about cyberstalking

"I ended up in the hospital. I had a total meltdown over the stress and fear of what I'm going through,." Dean said.

Nicole Beckwith of the Ohio Auditor's Office helped investigate Jillian Sticka, the Xenia woman convicted of cyberstalking three people, including me. I know just how difficult online harassment can be for a victim.

Three local people are now telling their story how they were relentlessly stalked and harassed online by one woman for as long as 6 years. They want to help other victims of cyberstalking and show you how law enforcement can successfully crack down on the growing crime.

"This case is one of the worse I've ever seen," said Beckwith. "It consumed her life. Every waking minute she was on one of those user accounts."

Sticka was prosecuted and will spend 6 months in jail and 5 years on probation. But, Beckwith said Sticka's conviction is rare. 

RELATED: What is cyberstalking?

"I've been told by numerous agencies, 'look I have 15 to 20 cases that are sitting on the shelf,'" said Beckwith. "If you're an agency who wants a training specific to the agency, it's free. I will come out and train your folks."

After personally experiencing online harassment, State Rep. Rick Perales is fighting for change.

"My wife and family and I have experienced the other side of this and let me say, it's not pleasant," said Perales, a Republican from Greene County.  

MORE: Cyberstalking is a crime that is on the rise

According to Perales, current Ohio laws regarding online stalking and harassment need to be more clear and concise. He said he will look for grant money to help train law enforcement officers to investigate cyberstalking and he is considering a registry for those convicted of the crime.

"We've got to be able to put them away so that other people see that this is a crime and if you go there, there are going to be consequences," Perales said. 

Ohio ranked 8th in the nation for cyber-crimes last year so Nicole Beckwith gave us several things that victims can do right now to protect themselves. First, tell the person to stop harassing you in writing. Preserve all evidence such as emails, texts and photos. Contact law enforcement if the harassment continues or there are any threats of violence and keep a detailed log of dates, usernames and social media accounts. 

"This is not your fault," said Beckwith. "Do not allow anybody to suggest that you should alter your lifestyle, your accounts in any way shape or form because somebody else is committing a crime." 

Rebecca Dean does not understand why she has become a target, but she wants her online stalker to stop.