CHRIS VETTER Eau Claire Leader-Telegram
Chippewa County Crime Witness Coordinator Sherrie Dachel has seen an increase in stalking cases where the victim receives numerous messages via text or social media.
In a recent case, an ex-husband sent a number of messages to his ex-wife regarding her new boyfriend. This new boyfriend tried to get a restraining order, but was unsuccessful.
New state law signed by Governor Tony Evers on Friday expands the definition of harassment to include sending text messages, emails, or other electronic communications, or ringing a device or sending repeated notifications . The law also expands harassment to include sending these messages to the victim’s family, household, employers, co-workers and friends.
Dachel said this new law is necessary because stalkers have found new ways to electronically stalk their victims.
“People can be very creative,” Dachel said. “(I am in favor of) anything that contributes to their safety. I really think it was necessary. Your state of mind is definitely affected by this harassment. It’s not like the old days, when people left notes on cars or sent flowers. “
Justin Patchin, a UW-Eau Claire criminal justice professor who specializes in bullying, said every state has laws against bullying, but Wisconsin is one of only two states that does not include cyberbullying in this law. Patchin hopes this new law will help fill this gap.