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Baby Reindeer and Cyberstalking – How To Prevent It

In the popular British miniseries “Baby Reindeer” on Netflix, Donny, a struggling comedian, becomes the target of Martha, a woman he meets at the local bar where he performs at night. The show is inspired by comedian Richard Gadd’s own one-man stage production, where he portrays a fictionalized version of himself as Donny. Gadd himself experienced stalking in his early twenties from an older woman who inundated him with badly written, sexually explicit messages via email and social media, much like Martha in the series. (In “Baby Reindeer,” Martha gives him various bizarre, uncomfortably intimate nicknames.)

When Donny takes the messages to the police as evidence, they tell him not much can be done since the messages aren’t overtly threatening. They also question why it took him so long to report his stalker. (It doesn’t help that since Donny is a man and his stalker is a woman, male stalking victims often aren’t taken as seriously as female victims. Studies also indicate they report more slowly, possibly due to fear of not being taken seriously or believed.)

For those who have experienced cyberstalking, the sense of powerlessness and frustration depicted by Donny in “Baby Reindeer” resonates deeply. Cyberstalking now surpasses traditional stalking in frequency, with approximately 3.4 million individuals aged 16 or older (around 1.3% of the U.S. population) falling victim to cyberstalking in 2019.

Definition of Cyber Stalking

Cyberstalking involves persistent surveillance, tracking, and unwelcome interactions. Stalkers might utilize spyware and GPS devices to trace whereabouts or set up fake profiles to interact with or watch their victims. Despite common perceptions, men make up a significant portion—20 to 40 percent—of cyberstalking victims, highlighting its broad impact beyond traditional demographics.

Research by an expert revealed a concerning trend: 41% of American adults have encountered online harassment, with 20% subjected to digital stalking. This underscores that cyberstalking isn’t merely about social media following but centers on the intent to intimidate, distinguishing it as a severe issue in digital interactions. 

How Can You Prevent Cyberstalking?

Prompt action is crucial when you detect a breach in your digital space. Implement strong privacy controls and unique passwords as your first line of defense, as well as follow tips from an expert in the field. Document all interactions to serve as evidence and a clear record of unwelcome behavior if legal steps are needed.

•           Privacy and passwords: Set social media profiles to private and use strong, unique passwords across all accounts. Use a password manager for added security. Activate two-factor authentication (2FA) to block unauthorized access attempts. Never share your one-time passwords (OTPs).

•           Use a VPN: Use a top-tier VPN to encrypt your internet connection and hide your IP address, safeguarding your activity and location from stalkers.

•           Regular monitoring: Keep a vigilant eye on social media for signs of unauthorized access or suspicious attempts to connect. Platforms often alert users to unusual activity; heed these warnings and act swiftly.

•           Dealing with persistent harassment: When harassers circumvent blocks by switching accounts, maintaining high digital security is vital. Be cautious of messages baiting you with links or secrets; they might aim to infiltrate your digital life, leading to account hacking, as seen in the documentary.


Keep meticulous records of all communications from the stalker, including emails, messages, comments, and contact attempts through others. Take screenshots, note timestamps, and save copies; this documentation can be crucial if legal action is needed.

Don’t engage

While you might feel inclined to engage or confront, silence is often more powerful in cases of cyberstalking or harassment. Engaging can fuel the stalker’s motivations. Instead, secure your digital footprint and seek support from friends, family, or professionals.

If your accounts are compromised or at risk, consider the following steps:

•           Alert your network: Inform friends, family, and colleagues about the harasser and advise them to ignore any suspicious messages from your account or fake profiles.

•           Secure compromised accounts: If you still have access to compromised accounts, change the passwords. If you are locked out, contact the platform’s support team for recovery or deactivation.

•           Report impersonation: Report fake profiles to social media platforms. They often have procedures to handle impersonation and swiftly remove fraudulent accounts.

•           Enhance security measures: Update security settings to protect your accounts. Enable 2FA, use strong, unique passwords, and review app permissions.

Physical Safety

If you believe you’re being stalked, prioritize your physical safety. Share your live location with trusted individuals. Establish safe routes and identify public places to retreat to if threatened. Unpredictably changing your daily routine can also deter someone from tracking you.

Review your home’s security. If contacted by the stalker, do not engage or meet them in real life.

Legal recourse

If your safety is at risk, report it to the police immediately. File a detailed report of the harassment, including evidence of online threats and physical encounters. Documentation from earlier stages is invaluable here. Submit screenshots of messages, profile information, and any real-world interactions.

Seeking legal representation can help you obtain protective orders, preventing the stalker from contacting or approaching you.

Review your digital footprint

Integrate digital and physical security measures. Continue monitoring and securing your online presence to prevent the stalker from gaining further information about you. Limit the information you share online to mitigate risk. For example, google yourself to see publicly available information and review your social media profiles and settings.



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