A bestselling author named Melissa Anelli spoke out in a Reddit AMA this week about how she realised online abuse had turned into terrifying cyberstalking.
“[It started with] the first death threat. Actually, I didn’t think it was stalking at that point. I thought it was a one-off death threat, and I took it seriously, and warned staff, but I didn’t think it would continue,” writes Anelli, author of “Harry, A History,” which chronicles the “Harry Potter” phenomenon.
“When almost every day thereafter contained some message, threat, or vile insinuation, stalker started to apply. And as it worked itself offline, harassment and abuse applied,” she added. “Not that you can only be harassed and abused offline, but that was the first time I started assigning those words to myself.”
Anelli says her alleged stalker, a New Zealand woman named Jessica Parker, began harassing her through her online forum. Parker allegedly sent Anelli a death threat when she was asked to stop. At this point, Anelli reached out to the FBI for help.
Parker was first arrested for criminal harassment in New Zealand in 2011. She was instructed not to contact Anelli and to stay off the internet, but allegedly began the harassment again the day these restrictions were lifted, NPR has reported. Anelli told NPR that she can get up to 20 messages in a day from Parker, ranging from “extremely graphic rape threats to really graphic death threats.”
When asked on Reddit if she has taken any extra precautions to protect herself, such as purchasing a gun, Anelli replied that she has never considered owning a weapon and is taking all of the “basic precautions” necessary to secure her personal safety.
Those precautions include locking down her online presence, she told NPR. This was hard for somebody with such a big online presence. “This has completely changed that in the sense that I’m a much more suspicious person,” she told NPR.
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