My hacker(s) and I

It appears that we may slowly be (16 March:) still are not developing an understanding.

As the constant freezing of my PC and his unexpected butting in was very disruptive, a week ago or so, I suggested setting a schedule or some general rules. Not rigid rules, more like a guideline.

He seems to like it, but when I am late in the morning, he lets me know that he is very angry by messing up my screen incredibly (controlling the monitor) and rebooting the PC non-stop for about 15 minutes. He can also tell my PC’s fan to gear up. He hacks hardware too, yes.

This morning, he arrived at 8:30, causing my PC to freeze, requiring me to flip the UK-style socket’s power switch, and he appeared to leave my PC at around 9:50. At around 11:15, he seemed to be back, but it is more likely that he’s been logged into my system since 8:30. He can be present without me noticing it, and sometimes believes that he’s tricked me into believing that he’s gone, lol. After 10+ years of this, I have more or less gotten used to it, though on some days, it becomes too much and I yell at the computer and/or at one of the other people involved in this circus.

(He doesn’t want me to post the little video I made. Keeps deleting it.)

My PC sometimes also freezes for other reasons, however, and I am aware of that. The site of The Independent almost always makes my PC freeze.

The more I think about it, after having skimmed a few papers on the topic, the more convinced I am becoming that yes, he has a form of Asperger’s. (16 March: But how would I know? NPD apparently can look exactly the same, and I doubt that Asperger’s goes with taunting.) (19 March: No, apparently, it’s got nothing to do with autism.)

People with Asperger’s too have a problem with theory of mind. This can make them appear to be devoid of empathy, hence make them appear to have NPD and/or psycho/sociopathy. It is hard for him to assess how some of his actions and behaviours affect other people. He seems to see those as independent of himself, the way one would look at a computer problem when a computer is malfunctioning.

He does not think of the “cups of coffee” he throws “into other people’s keyboards”, so to speak. He has a tendency to take over my entire life (also in terms of getting into my head, of course, just like it is hard not to think of water when you just fell into a pond).

As some of you know, the story is a lot more complicated than this, but figuring out individual components is certainly helpful.

I am the one who has to live with this, after all, so I have to do the best I can to make my life as liveable as possible regardless of whatever the hacker’s doing, or any of his associates.

It’s taught me that we don’t all speak the same language. Some of us use music as language, others visual art, and his language is, well, coding, I guess. Or the general way he interacts with software and hardware.

I think I can often tell whether he is in my PC or not by things like how quickly some or all web pages load and refresh (the ones he wants access to, either to control what I get to see or do or to add messages from him), and whether they load once, or two times.

In 2011, I took a photo of the hacker, by the way. I know who he is, what he looks like, roughly where he lives and what is name appears to be.

I also know that he is not doing all of this on his own. There is someone else involved, with a different condition, who sometimes does terrible things, partly to support and perpetuate his own hero role, obscuring what is really going on – like someone who pushes you into the canal so that he can pretend he is rescuing you and who quickly pushes you back when nobody’s looking, and should someone notice, then he’ll use it as proof of how clumsy you are – and partly to try and drive me crazy, to frustrate me and hurt me. At least, that is how it often comes across on the receiving end. Not always.

Someone – mostly the hacker, usually on behalf of the other person, I suspect, or my immediate downstairs neighbour on behalf of them – has also been going into my flat when I am out, for years, until I managed to stop it – AS, 16 April 2019: temporarily, as it turned out later – by installing an extra lock. Sometimes he took something, or he returned something he took earlier. At other times, he moved something, left a note, destroyed something, or hurt an animal. He – or his brother – has also killed animals. His theme is decapitated pigeons, though I also suspect him of having killed all the stray cats here where I live in the past year or so.

The first time I knew for sure that someone had been in my flat was on Good Friday, I think it was in 2015 (I can check), when something had been moved, something relatively heavy. Up to that point, I only sometimes had had a strange feeling, but it had never occurred to me that someone could actually be shimmying the locks and going into my flat.

Neither of them can help doing this. I understand that.

This is part of the story of how I got into bioethics and inclusivity.

I’ve learned a lot from it.

Lauren McCluskey: We need specialized teams with psychologists, psychiatrists, IT specialists and investigators

I have said it many times before.

Police officers are not equipped to deal with cases of stalking and so on, at all. They do not have the knowledge to assess them (and are sadly too often led by their personal bias toward the victims).

It happened in the cases of Shana Grice, Molly McLaren and Bijan Ebrahimi in the UK.

And it happened in the case of Lauren McCluskey in the US as now transpires.

It has happened in many other situations.

Having specialized teams that are not part of the police but of new to be set up organizations and that respond instantly would also often benefit many people who could normally go on to murder someone because they would get the intervention and treatment they need IN TIME.

They too are criminalized and unnecessarily victimized if they are in ill mental health. Instead of saying that they believe they need help but being ignored by police or simply being ignored by police – period – or even being egged on by police after concerns are reported, they would get the help that just might stop them from committing murders, murders like those of Shana Grice, Molly McLaren, Bijan Ebrahimi and Lauren McCluskey.

Police officers often see themselves as superior experts in just about anything but in reality, their level of knowledge is often no different from that of the average homeless meth addict or industrious takeaway owner.

On the other hand, police officers now also waste a lot of time chasing up silly “he said she said” disputes and playing thought police. Silly “he said she said” quarrels and normal breakup situations could quickly be weeded out as representing little danger if there were dedicated teams of specialists to assess these situations.

The need for specialized IT staff on these teams is also made clear by the McCluskey case; see the screen shot below from the case review. (This looks like sadistic stalking to me, by the way. The taunting nature of it, the mix of openly seeming supportive with regard to what he was actually doing too, albeit in the dark, except that sadistic stalking usually occurs on much longer time scales, as far as I know, but it is a complex phenomenon that is almost impossible to escape from if it happens to you.)

The way the situation currently is, contacting police is the worst you can do if you are being stalked and harassed. Why? Because it will enrage your stalker and as police usually do nothing or next to nothing, it will greatly amplify the stalker’s power. At best, it makes no difference.

In addition to this proposed overhaul of police, we also need changes in the medical profession. Police officers and medical professionals are currently among the biggest propagators of mental health stigmas, stopping people who need it from getting treatment.

There appears to be a huge gap between the knowledge about physical health (with mostly physical effects) and the knowledge about brain-related or “mental” health. The fact that there is even a stigma on pain – as pain is not visible and often not directly measurable – indicates that there is a tendency to place stigmas on any health issues that are not visible or hard to show in a visual form. (Even having a brain scan that shows differences can help a lot.) People are being blamed for brain-related health conditions as it is often assumed that all humans have total control over them. The mere fact that personalities can change after a stroke or other type of brain injury already shows that we don’t.

(Hence, I also believe that it is wrong to criminalize people with brain-related health conditions, which is not the same as declaring them “insane”. We need different approaches to mental health and much better care. Genuine professional care. Support.)

 

PS
Years ago, I screamed or cried at police over the phone “What the hell does this guy want from me? Ask him what he wants from me so that I can give him an answer so that he can move on and leave me in peace.” Police thought it was hilarious, but frowned at me. Delusional old cow.

Stalking and criminal harassment

This morning, Laura Richard’s newsletter dropped into my e-mail box. Laura founded Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service.

The current approach, namely that stalking is a regular police matter, does not work. In my opinion, assessing and investigating stalking should become the domain of specialized task forces containing specialized psychologists, psychiatrists and IT specialists. They’d be much more efficient and effective.

  • Police now waste a lot of time and resources on “stupid shit” that is not actually stalking. It leads to police fatigue, the assumption that any new reported incidence of stalking is bound to be more time-wasting “stupid shit”. (Many police officers prefer to investigate issues like money-laundering.)
  • Police do not have the required psychology and psychiatry knowledge. It is fair to say that the stalking knowledge of the average police officer is similar to that of the average homeless meth addict. Police officers are not able to distinguish between cases that are merely “stupid shit” and cases that contain a serious threat to someone’s safety.
  • Currently, going to the police is often the worst thing to do when you are being stalked in a worrisome manner. It enrages the stalker but also confirms that he is in control and untouchable.
  • Police do not have the required IT knowledge. It is a persistent myth that stalkers always only use their own public name in digital stalking and never use advanced IT knowledge. And, unfortunately, police take any kind of printed digital matter at face value. (I could easily fake printed evidence that anyone – even, say, Barack Obama or Donald Trump – sent me an e-mail stating that he is going to kill me. If I use the name of any random local individual and print that faked e-mail to me, police are likely to accept it as evidence. Police prefer printed matters as they can be scanned into the computer system whereas any kind of other evidence “would likely get lost”.)

Specific examples?

Police clearly failed Shana Grice who was fined for wasting police time when she reported stalking, then was killed by her stalker.

Police may actually have precipitated the murder of Molly McLaren but, in any case, could and should have foreseen the attack on her, hence should have acted to prevent it, in theory. The murder of Bijan Ebrahimi could have been prevented too.

This is not the fault of the police. It is the result of police being unequipped to deal with stalking cases.

Shana Grice’s, Bijan Ebrahimi’s and Molly McLaren’s are examples of sad cases that make it into the limelight. Most don’t, yet happen anyway.

On the other hand, cases of stalking can also involve people with, for example, certain intellectual deficiencies whose behaviour puzzles other people so much that they don’t know how to deal with it and feel stalked. Police do not know how to deal with that either. Criminalizing such people (with learning difficulties or intellectual disabilities) serves no purpose whatsoever, and only does harm. It is a matter of educating the public. (I once spotted a poster about this at my local police station, from a foundation or charity.)

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/shana-grice-murdered-stalking-fined-for-wasting-police-time-michael-lane-trial-lewes-crown-court-a7637196.html

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/bijan-ebrahami-refugee-murdered-iran-killed-paedophile-bristol-avon-somerset-police-council-gang-a8116341.html

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/molly-mclaren-death-trial-boyfriend-tinder-kent-university-whatsapp-messages-a8175281.html

 

Sadistic stalking

In my book “We need to talk about this“, I mention sadistic stalking (description below). That is, I point out how difficult it is to tell that the target of such activities is not imagining things, is not mentally ill.

I give the example of the woman who was stalked for a long time and eventually found the excavated remains of her deceased husband dumped on her doorstep. She had a heart attack. In my book, I take you through a few scenarios that put you in such a woman’s shoes to show you various sides of what are in fact “mental health” prejudices. Continue reading

How to deal with British police

Essentially, you don’t. You avoid them as much as you can because in Britain, you must consider police your enemy. They are not on your side. They are on their own side.

(Note: Anything I say on this page won’t stop me from, say, buying donuts for random police officers when they’ve all been called back from leave and are working very long days out on the streets. I do my best to see them as individual people.)

The only good reason for going to a police station in Britain is when you need to do that to be able to make an insurance claim.

Police in Britain stopped investigating crimes against individuals at least 10 years ago because they lack the resources to do so. The only crime against an individual that they are still bound to look into is when that individual has been murdered or if the individual is a supermarket owner or the like they like and someone has stolen a sandwich because he or she was hungry and was, say, caught red-handed or recorded on CCTV.

Other than that, forget it. That does not have to leave you stranded in all cases in which you’d normally expect to be able to get assistance from the police officers whose salaries you pay for through your council tax, after all.

Below are some tips, first for if you are a crime victim and second for if police are targeting you, for instance, because you are a crime victim.

Here is the GOLDEN RULE:

If police officers knock on your door, never ever open the door. Under no circumstances.

(You can still talk with them through the closed door, if you feel that it’s useful or required.)

1. Are you the victim of a crime?

Unless you need to do this for the sake of an insurance claim, do not go to the police. If you go to the police, the officers may tell you that they will use the information you give them as intelligence (though they won’t tell you that they are more likely to use it against you than against the perpetrator of the crime(s) you are reporting).

In almost all cases, they will also tell you to go to your council (civic offices) and to your GP. Don’t take it personally when they do this, even though it may sound like they are suggesting that you need mental health assistance. (After all, how on earth can a GP help solve a burglary, for instance?) They say this to just about everyone all over the country. It’s nothing personal; it‘s merely national policy.

You can investigate and try to stop crimes having been or being perpetrated against you but you have to proceed very carefully.

  • What you need to do first of all is print several copies of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Tuck one away in each of your bags or suit pockets.
  • Next, you write a letter to your local MP and any other politicians and/or journalists worth contacting. You explain to them what happened or is happening (the crime), in no more than one or two sentences, such as “My home was broken into” or “My daughter is being stalked. This has been going on for two years and last week the stalker broke into her home”. Then you write that you “will be approaching persons and taking actions for the purposes of preventing or detecting crime, pursuant to and in compliance with the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Section 1, subsection 3, sub a.” and that you are sending this letter to him or her for his or her information. Send this letter or these letters by Special Delivery. Yes, that will cost you a few bucks but it’s worth it.
  • If the MP or anyone else you wrote to then asks or tells you to go to the police, ask the person in question to come with you.
  • Use Word or any other program to type up the following text: “Pursuant to and in compliance with the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Section 1, subsection 3, sub a, I am approaching you for the purposes of preventing or detecting crime.”
  • Print several copies of that text and always have them with you during your crime investigation. Before you say anything else, say this and hand the printout to anyone you want to speak with in relation to the crime in question.
  • Also begin all your e-mails with that sentence if the e-mail is sent for the purposes of preventing or detecting crime.
  • Remain reasonable at all times. That means, do not behave as if you are a police officer, do not get rude and do not lose your temper. You can certainly be firm. You are standing up for your rights. That is perfectly normal in many other countries and it’s a cry and shame that police in Britain don’t help you protect yours.
  • Never undertake any of your crime investigation activities on your own, but always ensure that you have at least two witnesses, not from your family, but perhaps a colleague from work, a fellow member of a sports club you belong to or a neighbour or a client.
  • If you do go to police, tell them as little as possible. They will use anything you report to them as “intelligence” and while they may inform you of that, what they won’t do is let you know that they may well use any information you give them against you. Police officers may act very friendly and reassuring, and talk about the action they will take, but when they do, they are usually just lying to you, unfortunately.
  • The Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Section 1, subsection 3, sub b also means that it is very good (essential) to know the nature of the crime you are investigating, in legal terms. Look up which law applies to what happened, and why what someone did or does was or is a crime according to the law. You can go to the CAB or any other advice organisation, make some calls, see solicitors for a free half-hour consultation, drop in on a law clinic from your local law school and of course research it online and in books.

2. Are you being targeted by police?

British police officers these days seem to go after just about any person that they perceive as easy prey for their arrest (and prosecution) records and whose name and address they have. This could be someone who is probably poor or lower-class, someone who they suspect has a mental health problem and also someone who lives on his or her own or will likely only have kids in the house. So that there won’t be a partner who says “wait a minute!” and they only have to deal with one adult who police officers think will be intimated. Police officers know very well what effect they have on normal citizens and they exploit it when it serves them.

They also are more likely to go after people they don’t like, such as people who report serious crimes and are inexperienced enough to keep asking police officers what they are doing about it, particularly if the person lives on his or her own or will likely have only kids at home.

The problem with reporting a crime is that in the process, you give police officers a lot of information about yourself. They have your name and address now and know what you look like. By contrast, they very likely do not know the identity of the person who committed the crime or is committing the crimes you are reporting. They do now know also some of your personal circumstances, such as that you just broke off your relationship, got fired, just started a new job, whether you rent or own your home and things like that.

If you become the victim of a crime, no matter what cause of action you take (go to the police and/or investigate yourself), it raises the probability that police will start targeting you.

Under no circumstances report a crime and then keep calling to ask what the police officers are doing about it, even if a police officer has told you to do so. (Don’t investigate and report on your investigations either, not even if they have specifically asked you to do so.) All of this is bound to annoy them so much that you may well find them knocking on your door on Sunday morning at 7 am, when you innocently open the door and then find the door slammed into your face and yourself crushed onto the floor and arrested, your kids watching scared and helpless.

Unfortunately, that is the reality in Britain. It happened to Michael Doherty, for instance.

If you’re a woman, it may be more likely that police officers will call the local mental health hospital behind your back and suggest that you are mentally unwell. They may also pay your employer a visit and anyone else who suggesting to that you are not well in the head may disadvantage you.

That too is the reality of Britain today.

Do not open the door if police officers (are targeting you and) knock on your door. You do not have to open the door if police officers knock on your door, no matter what they tell you (with very few exceptions and in those cases, it makes no difference whether you open the door or not, so, don’t). That’s right.

Police officers can sound very convincing when they tell you all sorts of bullshit. Some of them are genuinely convinced that they know the law because they have this law book specifically for police in which they can look things up. If it says anything that does not suit them but would be to your advantage, they won’t tell you that. It will almost never come back to bite them anyway. In practice, police officers in Britain rarely have to adhere to the law, let alone administer it appropriately.

If you ever get arrested, don’t trust whoever shows up as duty solicitor either. He or she will not be interested in your rights. He or she will either want to get out of the police station as soon as possible or milk the circumstances for whatever reason. Of course, there are exceptions – GOOD and HONEST lawyers do exist; in fact, a few of your personal heroes may be lawyers – but under no circumstances assume that a duty solicitor will look out for you.

If you are investigating crime committed or being committed, someone may still call the police and say that you are harassing him or her. This is more likely if that person is the person who committed or has committed the crimes you are investigating, of course, because he or she knows that your powers are nowhere near those of police officers and may have more experience with police than you. He or she will want to make you go away and complaining about you is a possible approach to that.

That is particularly why you need to know what the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Section 1, subsection 3, sub a says so that you can say that and maybe even show the printout of that law. Do not count on a duty solicitor to do that for you!

The fact that you are investigating crime on your own already indicates that you are not a person in power, after all. It makes you easily dismissible in the eyes of the police and in the eyes of the duty solicitor. Stand your ground. Don’t let them walk all over you. (You were doing what police officers should be doing. It is not your fault that, as a rule, they no longer deal with crimes committed against individuals these days.)

Also, you have informed several persons such as for example your MP about what you were going to do and you have witnesses.

Last but not least, a bit of a warning. Shana Grice, a young woman who reported being stalked to police was accused by police of wasting police time police (and fined, I believe) before her stalker killed her. There are other women in Britain who were killed by their stalkers, and they too were often not taken seriously by police.

I know a woman who was in similar circumstances, in the Netherlands. Her ex-boyfriend started stalking her and strangled her almost to death one day. In stark contrast to British police, Dutch police did not dismiss her but were very helpful. They advised her to relocate to a town in which she did not know anyone so that her ex was least likely to look for her there.

She took the advice, even though it meant breaking off her Master’s. She moved to a town at quite a distance from where she used to be and also from where her family was, enrolled in a lower-level educational program, then enrolled in another Master’s and after that started a PhD track. She got that PhD and she’s also a mother now.

(He eventually tracked her down in her new town too, but it took him a long time, and by then, he was less angry. One of her house mates or neighbors found him on the doorstep one day, and convinced him to go back and leave the woman alone.)

If you are being stalked in a way that seriously worries you, do not investigate or try to stop it by yourself (and certainly don’t bother reporting it to British police, also because they are likely to inform your stalker of everything you told police, whether on purpose of accidentally). Do what Dutch police advised this young Dutchwoman.

Hopefully, you’ll never need to know any of the above.

If you do use any of the above, and you end up killed, stabbed, bullied, hacked, arrested or anything else that you would have preferred to avoid, then note that you cannot hold me liable for any of that. I am not a lawyer, certainly not within this context, and I am not in a position to shield you from all risk.

Like the woman I mentioned above – no, it wasn’t me; it concerns a much younger woman whose acquaintance I made when she was working on her PhD – I too have only very positive experiences with Dutch police, even in sensitive circumstances that could have easily created friction and for which the officers in question had no training. Hats off!

I have worked with Dutch police in a neighbourhood crime prevention initiative. I also have positive experiences with American police, but race riots broke out in the US city where I used to live only shortly after I left. As we all know, American police has its troubles too because there had been too many incidents in which innocent black persons were killed by police officers in that city.

I think such incidents are often the result of irrational fears on the side of the police officers who often work under a lot of tension. I have personally witnessed in the US that when I had to call police in highly suspicious circumstances, they seemed much more scared and nervous than I was (presumably because I was living in a Florida neighbourhood that didn’t have a good reputation at the time). They were also looking out for my safety extremely well and I noticed that with gratitude.

I wish I could be more positive about British police.

I post the following from the work of Dr Lorraine Sheridan, as this can be vital information to have.

Typology 4: Sadistic stalking (12.9%)

Characteristics

· victim is an obsessive target of the offender, and who’s life is seen as quarry and prey (incremental orientation)
· victim selection criteria is primarily rooted in the victim being:

(i) someone worthy of spoiling, i.e. someone who is perceived by the stalker at the commencement as being: – happy – ‘good’ – stable – content and
(ii) lacking in the victim’s perception any just rationale as to why she was targeted

· initial low level acquaintance

 · apparently benign initially but unlike infatuation harassment the means of intervention tend to have negative orientation designed to disconcert, unnerve, and ergo take power away from the victim

– notes left in victim’s locked car in order to unsettle target (cf. billet-doux of infatuated harassment)
– subtle evidence being left of having been in contact with the victim’s personal items e.g. rifled underwear drawer, re-ordering/removal of private papers, cigarette ends left in ash trays, toilet having been used etc.
– ‘helping’ mend victims car that stalker had previously disabled · thereafter progressive escalation of control over all aspects (i.e. social, historical, professional, financial, physical) of the victim’s life

· offender gratification is rooted in the desire to extract evidence of the victim’s powerlessness with inverse implications for his power => sadism
· additional implication => self-perpetuating in desire to hone down relentlessly on individual victim(s)
· emotional coldness, deliberateness and psychopathy (cf. the heated nature of ex-partner harassment)
· tended to have a history of stalking behaviour and the controlling of others · stalker tended to broaden out targets to family and friends in a bid to isolate the victim and further enhance his control
· communications tended to be a blend of loving and threatening (not hate) designed to de-stabilise and confuse the victim
· threats were either overt (“We’re going to die together”) or subtle (delivery of dead roses)
· stalker could be highly dangerous

– in particular with psychological violence geared to the controlling of the victim with fear, loss of privacy and the curtailment of her social world

· physical violence was also entirely possible

– especially by means which undermine the victim’s confidence in matters normally taken for granted e.g. disabling brake cables, disarming safety equipment, cutting power off

· sexual content of communications was aimed primarily to intimidate through the victim’s humiliation, disgust and general undermining of self-esteem
· the older the offender, the more likely he would have enacted sadistic stalking before and would not be likely to offend after 40 years of age if not engaged in such stalking before
· victim was likely to be re-visited after a seeming hiatus

Case management implications

· should be taken very seriously
· acknowledge from outset that the stalker activity will be very difficult to eradicate
· acknowledge that there is no point whatsoever in appealing to the offender – indeed will exacerbate the problem
· never believe any assurances, alternative versions of events etc. which are given by the offender
· however, record them for use in legal action later
· the victim should be given as much understanding and support as can be made available
· the victim should not be given false or unrealistic assurance or guarantees that s/he will be protected
· the victim should carefully consider relocation. Geographical emphasis being less on distance per se, and more on where the offender is least able to find the victim
· the police should have in mind that the sadistic stalker will be likely to:

(i) carefully construct and calculate their activity to simultaneously minimise the risk of intervention by authorities while retaining maximum impact on victim,
(ii) be almost impervious to intervention since the overcoming of obstacles provides
(iii) new  and potent means of demonstrating the victim’s powerlessness (ergo self-perpetuating) and,
(iiii) if jailed will continue both personally and vicariously with the use of a network.

http://www.le.ac.uk/press/ebulletin/archive/speaker_sheridan.html

http://www.le.ac.uk/ebulletin-archive/ebulletin/features/2000-2009/2007/07/nparticle.2007-07-17.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6300291.stm

http://www.le.ac.uk/press/stalkingsurvey.htm