A Note From Jayne Hitchcock

Many people have e-mailed me about the media interviews I have done about cyberstalking and my personal experience with it. The one thing that comes up over and over again is that I must be making loads of money from all of these appearances. What many of you do not know is that there is no payment. On shows such as Good Morning America, The Sally Show and Unsolved Mysteries, travel, food and lodging are paid for *if* I have to go to their studios or sets. Usually, on shows such as these, if the person being interviewed holds a SAG/AFTRA card, they are paid the minimum SAG/AFTRA requires (which I have heard is around $40/day). Since I do not hold a SAG/AFTRA card, I get no reimbursement at all.

For other TV and radio shows, newspaper and magazine interviews, there is no allowance for travel, etc., as most of the reporters come to my home or interview me over the phone. The most I have received is a free ride to a studio (in Washington, D.C.). I even have to pay for a VHS copy of the TV show I am appearing on if I can't tape it myself! And these tapes are not cheap -- they average between $15-35 each.

I've also received criticism that my personal web pages make me look "rich." I am far from rich. My husband was in the Marines for 10 years, but as an enlisted Marine, not an officer. He did not make a huge amount of money and now we are paying off debts we incurred. I do work part-time at the University of Maryland University College, freelance and now speak nationally about cyberstalking, so I'm making some money. Why don't I work full-time? I have CFS/CFIDS. This is something I did not make public at first, only because a lot of folks don't understand why I can't afford to pay the legal expenses being incurred in my cyberstalking case myself. Now you know why. This case has taken so much of my time that I have had to put aside the majority of my writing, which gave me a bit of income.

So, why am I doing all this "publicity" when it takes up so much of my personal time and energy and affects my health? It's because someone has to let the public know that cyberstalking and online harassment *does* exist. That in over 35 of the 50 United States, there are no laws to protect online victims. If this happened to you, your relatives, significant other, or your friends, you'd be outraged at what the harasser(s) can get away with. And it *could* happen to you. Don't think it can't.

I've made a personal pledge to get the word out and hope that other victims will come forward. Only when there are enough of us out there to make the world aware that things like this do happen, will it finally be stopped. There are people who care and *can* help if you do become a victim of cyberstalking or harassment, such asW.H.O.A. (Working to Halt Online Abuse) NOTE: I am W.H.O.A.'s President, InterGov (Nations United for the common good on the Internet), and ICC (the Internet Consumer Commission).

I'm doing what I can to get the word out, via the media, working with states to pass bills to punish online harassers and working with police departments on cases. Remember - This is NOT a violation of free speech: Online harassment and stalking should be a crime. Just think, if someone harassed or stalked you in person, over the phone or via snail mail, you could charge them with a crime -- why should the internet be any different? It shouldn't!

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