Cyber Harassment

Another form of cyberbullying is what's called internet harassment – that's where someone on the Internet is bullying, threatening, or acting maliciously with the intent to harass you.

Harassment can simply be an unwanted message or become a significant issue that can compromise people's privacy online and even their physical safety. Cyber harassment is repeated behaviour where someone, perhaps even a group of people, is attempting to control, scare or humiliate their target. Harassment can look like a lot of different things but generally involves:

  • Name-calling, social embarrassment and offensive language

  • Sending unwanted or intimidating emails

  • Spreading rumours on the Internet

  • Continuously leaving abusive messages on social media platforms

  • Creating malicious content that can be viewed on the Internet

  • Impersonating someone online and creating or sending untruthful content

  • Sharing photos or videos of you on the Internet without your permission

Have you felt harassed on the net before? You're not alone. Research done by RMIT in 2015 shows us young adults aged 18 – 24 are more likely to experience online harassment than any other age group. 1 in 4 people have experienced cyber harassment during their time online, with 44% experiencing offensive language being directed at them, and 37% have had malicious rumours spread about them online.


What can you do if you find yourself subjected to cyber harassment?

  • Don't engage with the harassment. By engaging with their remarks and comments, it'll only encourage and spur them on.

  • If you feel you need to reply to the harassment, use constructive, positive words and phrases as this may make it difficult for them to respond negatively.

  • Block and report the activity to the necessary places. There are procedures that allow people experiencing cyber harassment to the relevant platforms. Take screenshots or print out anything you think might help create your case.

In Australia, the eSafety Commissioner provides help and support for those experiencing online harassment. Click here to read what they've got to say. You can also report online harassment to the eSafety Commissioner through there website. Find out more here.


If you or someone you know is at risk or immediate harm, call 000. If you are having thoughts about self-harm or suicide, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.


References

Powell, A., & Henry, N. (2015). Digital Harassment and Abuse of Adult Australians: A Summary Report. https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/other/7351/Tabled%20Document%20-Digital%20Harassment%20and%20Abuse%20of%20A.pdf

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