Dealing With Email Harassment—How to Get the Stalkers Out of Your Inbox?

A comprehensive study by the Pew Research Center found that forty-one percent of Americans have personally experienced online harassment. Ten percent of those cases reported that the harassment took place over email.

The content of harassing emails can be versatile. An email can consist of rude remarks and insults based on personal or physical characteristics of the target. Some emails turn into online sexual harassment if they include inappropriate attachments like explicit images and videos. The content can take the form of an open threat, which can be truly frightening for the victim and leave permanent consequences.

Reasons People Send Harassing Emails

A direct email can sometimes feel much scarier than a mean comment on a Facebook post. An email is “the serious participant” in the world of digital media, a communication tool used predominantly  for work. 

When an email takes on a form of a personal message—a negative one filled with threatening content—it can ruin your sense of safety.

There are several cases in which an email is used to torment someone:

  1. Email harassment by an ex-partner
  2. Workplace-related email harassment
  3. Harassing emails coming from strangers

Email Harassment by an Ex-Partner

Since this form of harassment feels more intimate, narcissistic stalkers sometimes choose it to torment their exes. A post on Reddit describes in detail how an abusive ex has contacted the victim via email repeatedly. The emails the victim received have been explicit, inappropriate, and sent regularly. 

Emails coming from the harassing ex can be confusing. You might not even be sure if your ex is actually harassing you, or is it just normal post-breakup behavior. If the situation escalates from emails to harassing phone calls and showing up unannounced, you’re dealing with combined harassment. 

Workplace-Related Email Harassment

Workplace harassment can be of both sexual or non-sexual nature, and it can come in the form of a disturbing email. 

There are two types of sexual harassment in the workplace. Unwanted behavior may fall under quid pro quo sexual harassment or hostile work environment, though the second one can be of non-sexual nature as well.  An example of “quid pro quo” sexual harassment would be an email sent by a person with authority that alludes to engaging in sexual activities to obtain a promotion. 

“Hostile work environment” can be both sexual and non-sexual type of harassment and it is created by emails that contain inappropriate and explicit content sent to upset or distress the recipient. Harassing emails in the workplace that are non-sexual are usually repetitive, full of threatening language, and designed to frighten the target.

Harassing Emails Coming From Strangers

A Reddit user experienced harassment from what appeared to be a random stranger when he started receiving offensive emails. Emails were sent from different accounts, but the content proved that the sender is the same person. 

You should know that even if the harasser seems like a random person, they are probably not. This person is usually someone having a beef with the target and trying to solve it by hiding behind the keyboard.

Legal Perspective—Do Email Harassment Laws Exist?

When your account is invaded by emails that are bordering on sexual harassment,you would imagine that it’s against the law.

Email harassment is a criminal offense, as it is considered a form of cyberstalking, but that only works in theory. Federal laws regulating harassment by email don’t really exist.

If you are bothered by harassing emails, you depend on the legislation of your state. Most of them do have specific cyber laws, so you should be able to:

  • Press criminal charges against the person in question
  • File for a restraining order, since in most states you are not required to know the stalker or a harasser personally to obtain it. This action might not stop them from contacting you, but if they violate the order the police can intervene and arrest them
  • File a civil complaint because email harassment is considered to be a cyber attack. In civil court, you can sue the harasser by invoking the tort law, otherwise known as civil wrongs

The problem is that it can take years to win a case in civil court. Even if you are prepared to put in the time and effort, the process is costly and exhausting. 

The good news is that filing a lawsuit is not your only option. There are different methods you can use to put an end to email harassment and stop a stalker from bothering you in the future. 

How to Stop Harassing Emails? DoNotPay Will Help With That!

DoNotPay is the first robot lawyer in the world and it can help with cases of online harassment, including being tormented by harassing emails.  

You can use the Relationship Protection option to help you. Here is how to do it:

  1. Log on DoNotPay in your web browser or iOS device
  2. Select the Relationship Protection option
  3. Start a conversation with our chatbot and choose Safety and Stalking
  4. Type in the name of the individual sending harassing emails
  5. The app will then create a cease and desist letter that can be sent to the person in question, demanding an immediate stop to all actions

Other Options to Prevent and Report Email Harassment

With email harassment, as with any other form of cyberbullying, you should assess the threat level first. If you believe you are in immediate danger, call the police.

If that is not the case, here are some steps you can take:

Tell the Harasser to Stop

The only adequate response to the harasser’s emails is to tell them to stop. You can do this by sending a cease and desist letter

Make a screenshot and print the evidence that this request was sent. 

Other than this, it is best not to engage with the harasser in any way.

Contact Harasser’s Internet Service Provider (ISP)

If you know the harasser and the ISP they use, you can contact it for help. Internet service providers usually have policies banning the use of their services to harass another person. If someone’s actions go against the policy, their account could be suspended.

Save the Evidence

Screenshot, archive, and print the emails. If you decide to involve the authorities, you will need proof of harassment. Do not edit or alter the emails in any way.

Never Forward the Email

Forwarding the email might result in losing routing data encoded in the original email. If you want to share the email, make a screenshot, or copy-paste the content.

Report and Block

With most service providers, you should be able to report harassing emails to the host. You should also use the “block sender” feature in your email service.

DoNotPay Should Be Your Go-To App for More Than Just Harassing Emails

DoNotPay is your lawyer/virtual consultant app. Access it in  the web browser or download the app on your iOS device to declutter the bureaucratic jumble in your life! Want to sue Equifax for data breach? Tired of Walmart’s customer service? Looking for a virtual credit card for PayPal verification?

DoNotPay can help with all sorts of mundane tasks including: