Category: 

What Is Text Harassment?

There are legal options available to people who are receiving harassing text messages.
Sending abusive messages via text is a form of harassment.
Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
Sharks hunt by sensing electromagnetic fields produced by their prey.  more...

October 24 ,  1929 :  The Black Thursday crash in the US stock market took place.  more...

Text harassment is a form of harassment involving the use of text messaging services. Harassers can use a number of tactics including flooding the victim with text messages and sending abusive or threatening messages. This form of harassment often accompanies dating violence, bullying, or sexual harassment in the workplace. There are legal steps available for dealing with text harassment and the process usually starts with filing a police report to document the harassment.

Texting technology allows people to send brief written messages that can be delivered to a phone or another mobile device. One problem with such services is that it is possible to spoof them, allowing someone to send harassing texts without being traced. People also usually carry their phones with them at all times and leave them on at night, providing numerous windows of opportunity for a harasser. Many phone companies only offer an option of blocking texting entirely rather than blocking messages from specific senders, so the only way to get the messages to stop is to not receive texts at all, which may not be feasible for some people.

Ad

One method of text harassment simply involves sending hundreds of messages a day, sometimes with the assistance of a service that can schedule texts to be delivered at a very high rate. The messages can vary in content and tone. Other harassers may opt to send occasional abusive messages. Tactics can include sending messages at odd hours or timing the delivery of texts for a time when the harasser knows that the victim cannot afford to be distracted.

If people are experiencing text harassment, they should document the texts and submit a police report. This alerts law enforcement to the fact that harassment is occurring. If there is an existing restraining order forbidding contact, the police may use the report as grounds for bringing the harasser into court for violation of the restraining order. Police reports can also be used to file complaints with the government authority that oversees telecommunications and with the phone company.

Options for handling text harassment can include deactivating text functions, as well as changing a phone number and keeping the new number as confidential as possible. These options may not appeal to people experiencing harassment because they may have reasons to keep their phone numbers or to keep texting enabled. If a phone company offers selective text or phone number blocking, this is the easiest and most direct solution.

Ad

More from Wisegeek

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

anon952257
Post 23

Web sites are making this even easier. I have been harassed by an ex-boyfriend's ex for over a year now. I block the number but she gets a new one in a matter of minutes. Sites like this allow free text and calling and unlimited phone number changes! It is crazy! People are crazy!

goodbye
Post 22

Here's an idea: If the text message sent are not threats against you, simply ignore. If all they have is your cell phone and not your address, chances are you are safe. Ignoring them may cause them to eventually stop. What person out there is going to spent their entire lifetime texting someone that doesn't respond to their texts?

anon345463
Post 20

Yeah, it's crazy. A 60 year old woman keeps harassing my son who is 35. I don't understand how my son even got involved with her sexually. It's crazy but now he is with a girl who has changed her life for the good. He is going to church and got saved, but now the other lady will not stop harassing my son through texting. She's crazy.

anon344210
Post 19

I find it amazing that my old cell phones always displayed the number a text was from, but it appears the manufacturers have "corrected the problem." It appears you now cannot view who sent a text before opening it. Nice how the phone manufacturers and carriers are promoting text harassment, isn't it.

anon341590
Post 18

My ex boyfriend won't leave me alone. I blocked him on Facebook but he keeps texting me. I already had to change my number because my other ex and his friends wouldn't stop threatening me.

This is insane. He's obsessed with me. He's not threatening or anything but he just won't leave me alone. He is crazy. I made a huge mistake when I dated him.

anon318804
Post 17

Grandmas are usually sweet old ladies with all kinds of advice to give -- except mine! She has done nothing but blow my phone up. I had to block her from my facebook account. She is using foul language to me and making things up about me, so I recently moved out of her house because she attacked me verbally and physically.

She basically held me hostage in my own room until I would fight her to get out the door. She is 59 years old and weighs 300 pounds. And not brittle at all. She uses her body weight and fists.

I work third shift, so I got "home" early in the morning. That's when it began. Well now she is texting me that I attacked her. Should I file harassment charges on her for fear that she will charge me? She works as a nurse at a jail, so I don't know if she has an advantage.

anon289475
Post 14

My boyfriend's brother-in-law posted a comment under my instagram photo asking how my second pregnancy was going and if I'd gotten an abortion yet. Is this illegal to say? Can he get into trouble?

anon289072
Post 13

There is a sheriff's deputy who has posted his phone number on craigslist under rooms for rent. When you call him about a room for rent, he hangs up on you instead of saying, "The room has been rented, sorry." And when he answers the first call he does not identify himself as a deputy. Then he calls you an idiot and a tweaker and tells you that he googled your number. Then he goes on about how you are misusing a police line when you are asking him to please leave you alone and to stop.

He refuses to stop texting you when you are asking him to please stop and then he accuses you of harassment. Beware of this cyberbully deputy. He has probably done this to other girls before and he thinks that every girl who calls him is a tweaker but he has surrounded himself with tweakers by living in eureka. Disgusting.

anon286901
Post 12

My parents were supposed to come to my college and sign my financial aid papers and they didn't. I asked like two weeks in advance for them to come they said no. The day of my appointment they started sending me messages on my phone saying some pretty mean things using inappropriate language. As I may remind you I'm their child. Well, this continued and I asked them to stop it, but it still continues. I told them one last time if they don't stop I will get them for harassment. Is this a matter of harassment or should I just forget about it?

wow1
Post 11

I broke up with my ex-girlfriend. When I told her I wanted her to move out, she filed charges on me. She flooded my phone with 167 texts, not including the voicemail and phone calls. In the text and voicemails she says that she only did it so I would throw her and her kids out. In the voicemail, she says she lied to the police, and in the text she says she lied to the police. The police and prosecutor have all the evidence but still haven't dropped the case. I have to go to a pti hearing. Can they drop it then or what can I expect?

ozzy03
Post 10

My grandson has been harassed by the county sheriff for months. One deputy told a person at 7-11 to get a trespass order on him, except she said he was not causing any problems.

They stopped him at his girlfriend's house and told him the next time he saw him, he was going to shoot him. Last week he went with his girlfriend to the store and she came to my house and told me it was her parents who had the order. He hid outside my house with a bullet proof vest on. What can we do?

animegal
Post 9

At the high school I went to text harassment was very much an extension of cyber bullying. Often kids would target one person and spam them with cruel messages and nasty photos.

I think that in a case like this the person being bullied really needs to step up and report the texts to not only their parents but also the school authorities. Technology is constantly changing and people have to know how it can be used to harm others.

If you have a teen and they have the evidence of bullying right on their phone, use it as evidence. Often schools take this kind of harassment seriously and the students doing it could easily be suspended or expelled.

popcorn
Post 8

If you want to avoid trouble like text harassment it is pretty easy to change your phone number or to get an unlisted number as soon as you sense a problem. If the person sending the messages is just doing it to bother you because they have a vendetta then it should be pretty easy to avoid them.

Now, the problem I think comes when text harassment becomes an outlet for a stalker. Often people feel that with new technology they are harder to trace but you can get a restraining order just from the texts if they contain threats and inappropriate material. If you suspect the person doing it will keep harassing you in other ways, the text messages can be a good way to get a retraining order.

oasis11
Post 7

@Sneakers41 -Text harassment is very real and teenagers are the most susceptible. Receiving harassing text messages can really disrupt a kid’s school day. Many of these kids are using provocative pictures and sending them to others in order to embarrass the person. I think that there should be warning classes in middle school about what happens when you send provocative pictures of yourself to people that you think are your friends.

hey then send it to everyone and this is also a form of text harassment and the one that generally receives the sexually explicit pictures are charged with a felony because it is considered child pornography.

They say that about 25% of teenagers participate in this type of sexting that really has a lot of potential for harassment as well as jail time. Maybe there should be a age requirement on texting like there is with alcohol because a lot of young kids really don’t realize that they are make life long mistakes that will affect them as long as they live with one simple little text.

Many do not have the maturity to understand what can happen to them and they can ruin their future with just one text.

sneakers41
Post 6

@Icecream17 - I agree that that is the best way to avoid this because it must be really disturbing to have to read these harassing text messages and why would you want to ruin your day like that? I think that the text messaging laws that really need to be in place is the text messaging laws that do not allow people to text while they drive.

It is unbelievable when you think about the amount of people that do this while driving. To me that is the more severe texting offense and the general harassment laws should take care of text message harassment. I think that texting while driving should be a felony because you can not only kill yourself, but you can also kill an innocent person.

icecream17
Post 5

I personally don’t understand why there needs to be text message harassment laws. Harassment is harassment. It doesn’t matter if was through a text or made verbally, it is still illegal. I really never text message anyone because I rather talk to them over the phone.

I think that the easiest way to avoid text message harassment is to drop the text messaging service altogether on your phone. You really don’t need it, if you think about it. If the person wants to continue to harass you they will have to become more creative. I am sure most people would stop when they realize it is just too hard to harass somebody and they will move on.

That is what I would do.

Mammmood
Post 4

@MrMoody - The situation you describe is not at all uncommon. I think, however, that most human resources departments provide some strict guidelines about workplace relationships, in order to avoid harassment lawsuits.

Companies who do so aren’t trying to restrict individual liberties. They just need to protect themselves as well against possible litigation. Again, I don’t know about your company by the HR manual should address these issues.

MrMoody
Post 3

I’d like to offer a simple bit of advice to anyone who would like to avoid the charge of harassment in the workplace. No, it’s not, “Don’t do it.” That’s obvious.

What is not obvious is that a charge of sexual harassment can ensue when two co-workers develop a romantic relationship that later goes south.

This happened in one company that I worked at. To make a long story short, the female worker, who held a higher position, leveled a harassment complaint against the worker with whom she was having this fling. It was outside work hours, but when the relationship ended she felt threatened by his continued presence in the company and wanted him out, through no fault of his own.

I knew the guy, and he did nothing meriting the criteria of harassment. He did, however, resign.

So, in short-avoid workplace relationships, if you care about your job.

NathanG
Post 2

@Charred - This is the first time that I’ve heard of text harassment. It makes sense when you think about it; harassment includes any attempted communication with another person that is unwanted, and so I suppose that would cover all technologies, including email harassment, harassing voice mails, etc.

I don’t know that there is a need for text harassment laws, however, as harassment is a pretty big umbrella term that would cover all these situations.

As to your point about blocking technology not existing, I agree that it’s only a matter of time before that will change.

However, there is recourse for people who are harassed. They should just call the phone company. I’m sure they can take appropriate action to track the harasser and tell him that his messages are no longer welcome.

Charred
Post 1

I’m scratching my head here. I don’t understand why phone companies don’t have features that allow blocking of text messages from a certain sender.

After all, we can block incoming calls with current technology and text messages come in through the same line, so in principle we should be able to block harassing text messages from a certain number.

That’s the theory anyway, and I smell an opportunity for someone who can develop such a tool. It may be left to a third party provider who can develop a text blocker utility.

Further, I think that such a feature should have automatic text re-dial, so to speak, so that it can immediately send a message back to the sender to the effect, “I’m going to call the police if you keep doing this.”

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email