Phoenix domestic violence experts warn of cyberstalking dangers

Maricopa County leaders listing domestic violence to include being tracked, hacked and stalked.

PHOENIX - In a revealing demonstration, officers from the Phoenix PD Family Investigations Unit pointed a number of ways that abusers are physically able to track, hack and stalk victims.

From a child's teddy bear, where cameras can be placed behind the eyes and in the mouth, to miscellaneous electronic items like a USB charging unit, there are surprising ways people use to track victims.

Officers said under the right situation, one party can control the other's cellphone and they can track it. 

But what if the abuser is hiding deep in the digital shadows of the internet?  In Arizona cyberstalking is also now considered a form of domestic violence.

"Social media is the new frontier of violence, and it is often invisible," said a woman, known only as "Rhiannon" who has been stalked online for the past seven years. "He has created literally thousands of fake profiles with which to harass me, a new one every two or three days."

Somehow she's endured the emotional chaos that this internet stalker has created, but at the expense of her career and many close friends. So, until law enforcement can corner her attacker, Rhiannon is reaching out to other cyberstalking victims.

"They are not alone in this. There is help out there for them," she said. "There is a scarcity of resources, but the more people who come out and make their story known, the more it'll get addressed on a legislative and a law enforcement level that'll catch up to the crime being committed."

Arizona enacted new laws to include cyberstalking in August to offer greater protection for domestic violence victims.

Read tips from the city of Phoenix on how to protect yourself below.

Copyright 2016 KPNX


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