Sexual harassment on the internet

Did you know that women are more likely to be targets of online abuse in all forms? And women are abused online at an unacceptably high rate. Regardless of their culture, race, age, ability, or sexual identity, every woman has the right to be protected from online abuse and harassment. They have a right to have a voice and to be heard.


In 2018, a large study asked women in Australia about their experiences online. The study found

  • 30% of women experienced harassment or abuse online.

  • 47% of these women were aged between 18 – 24 years old.

  • 37% of these women who had experienced abuse online also felt like their physical safety was also threatened.

Being abused online can be overwhelmingly detrimental to a woman.

  • 62% of women who had experienced online abuse stated that their confidence and self-esteem was lower.

  • 59% of women stated they experienced higher stress, anxiety or panic levels after experiencing online abuse.

  • 62% of women said they've also had trouble sleeping.

  • 49% of women said they've had difficulty concentrating after experiencing online harassment.

If you are the target of online abuse or sexual harassment, you're not alone, and it's not your fault. There are practical steps that you can take to help protect yourself online from unwanted abuse.

  • Collect any evidence you think may be beneficial. Taking screenshots of abusive comments and text alongside saving photos and videos can assist in reporting these experiences.

  • Report these issues to social media platforms.

  • If you are experiencing threatening or abusive situations, Australian law may be able to protect you.

  • Check your social media accounts and assess the amount of information you are sharing. Then, update your settings to direct how you are tagged in public photos or comments and be aware of what hashtags you are using.

  • Remember to protect yourself by checking in to real-life places and letting people know your location.

If you or someone you know is at risk or immediate harm, call 000. For non-emergencies, you can call PoliceLink on 131 444, or you can contact your local police station. 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

eSafey. (2020). Online Safety Advice for Women. https://www.esafety.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-05/Academics%20-%20Online%20safety%20-%20advice%20for%20women.pdf

eSafety Commissioner. (2019). Know the facts about women online. https://www.esafety.gov.au/women/know-facts-about-women-online

Photo by Mikayla Mallek on Unsplash

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