Our first story about targeted individuals in 2021 (“Gangstalking,” Jan 22, 2020) drew emails and phone calls from around the world. Over the past year, we’ve heard from people in Texas, across the United States, and in places as far away as Germany, Canada, and England. Emails and phone calls about the first story continue to come in.
Some of the people who contacted us were happy to see the topic of targeted individuals being addressed and wanted to share their stories. Others took offense to the story’s tone and content.
But first, who are targeted individuals? Generally, they are people who believe they are under attack by a group, organization, or individual seeking to destroy their lives or place them in grave physical danger.
The topic is a controversial or emotional one, especially for those who say they are victims.
After the Weekly’s first story, one of the most vocal critics was Richard Lighthouse, who is affiliated with the website TargetedJustice.com. Among Lighthouse’s beliefs is that the U.S. government uses weaponized satellites to experiment on or torture U.S. citizens.
Angry about the tone of the story, Lighthouse and some of his followers repeatedly emailed me. Others — both for and against the story — bombarded the Weekly’s office with phone calls and emails. They and others contacted everyone from the receptionist and members of the sales staff to Publisher Lee Newquist.
Although I made repeated attempts to talk to Lighthouse, he refused. I also tried to contact others associated with TargetedJustice.com, but he wrote an article that suggested I never bothered. Copies of my emails and phone logs tell otherwise.
Lighthouse also wrote on Targeted Justice that he declined to talk to me because he knew it would be “an unresearched hit piece.”
Those kinds of tactics are not something you’d expect from a group that claims to want to raise awareness about targeted individuals and harassment.
The system targeted individuals complain about is elusive and difficult to prove, much like many of the things that targeted individuals complain about: mysterious voices that seem to generate from nowhere or directed-energy weapons that cause confusion or serious physical injury. Many of the claims by targeted individuals have led people to assume they are “crazy.”
This time around, I revisited a conversation I had for the first story with Michael Nuccitelli, a Brooklyn psychologist who also studies cyber-harassment and created a concept called iPredator.
By profession, Nuccitelli analyzes behavior through the lens of possible psychological disorders, but he does not automatically dismiss the claims of those who say they’re being targeted. Anyone — whether they believe targeting exists or not — can have mental health issues that range across a continuum from mild to severe, he said.
“To immediately say all of them are delusional, I would say no,” Nuccitelli said. “Are some? Yes, but it’s all on that continuum.”
In addition to his work as a psychologist, Nuccitelli volunteers on nights and weekends to talk with and help people who say they are being trolled or harassed.
“When I do my volunteer work, I will occasionally get folks who will say that there are devices in the walls,” he said. “I have had folks tell me that there are devices in the television, and then I have to say, ‘Is your television internet enabled?’ Because if it is a smart TV, there is that possibility.”
In part, Nuccitelli’s volunteer work began after he experienced online character assassination and trolling. He knows firsthand what it’s like to be harassed by a person or a group of people. The harassment he endured included accusations — without proof — and an unsuccessful attempt to get his license revoked, which would have likely ended his career, Nuccitelli said.
The experience led Nuccitelli to develop iPredator. Generally, an iPredator uses information and communication technology to cause harm to another person or group. The perpetrators are fully aware they are causing harm. They also use cyber-stealth to create online deception to “engage in criminal or deviant activities or to profile, locate, stalk, and engage a target,” Nuccitelli says.
A subcategory of an iPredator is what he calls iPredator Bridge. These harassers are not criminal or deviant but harbor other motivations for harassing their target. Their reasons might be different political, moral, or religious beliefs.
Whatever the reason, if the person being harassed feels threatened or frightened because of the potential for physical harm or some other attack, it becomes cyberstalking.
“When it moves into the realm of someone being afraid, or someone is in fear of losing their job, that is cyberstalking,” Nuccitelli said.
Targeted individuals who launch an attack if they are upset with how they’re portrayed in the media, for example, could fall under the iPredator Bridge category, Nuccitelli said. Often, these attacks are aimed at someone’s employer or at their family members and friends, he added.
“They target you, but the reason they’re doing it is that they perceive they’re being affronted, that you don’t believe them,” he said.
In other words, “They perceive that you deserve it,” Nuccitelli said. — Teri Webster
This column reflects the opinions of the author and not the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a column, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at Anthony@FWWeekly.com. Columns will be gently edited for factuality and clarity.