The Internet has done amazing things for modern society. It’s brought people closer together, allowed the dissemination of knowledge to be quicker and more effective, and enabled us to watch an entire television series in one weekend without even needing to move.
But while the Internet has brought us a lot of benefits, it has also created another potentially dangerous place for women. According to the Pew Research Center, women between 18 and 24 experience severe online harassment at disproportionately high rates. 26% of young women have experienced stalking online and 25% were the target of sexual harassment. This is compared to 7% of men who have been stalked and 13% who were sexually harassed.
With a little over one in four women experiencing severe online harassment, it’s important to know how to react. Following these tips can help you deal with online harassment if it occurs.
If someone harasses you online, the first thing you should do is take a screenshot of it. A lot of the time, people will delete their comment either after you read it and respond, or a few days later for fear of retaliation. Taking a screenshot ensures that there is lasting evidence of what the person said. This can be used if you decide to report the person after they have already removed the evidence from their own account. If the harassment is severe enough, it could also be used to press charges.
One of the next steps you can take is reporting the person. Most social media sites have options where you can report the post, the person, or both. Reporting the person for their comments could result in them having their account banned or suspended. Not only is this a punishment for the person’s actions or comments, but it is also a way to make sure the site is aware that online harassment is occurring.
Another option you have is to block the user. Every social media site has this option. It can be used to prevent the person from contacting you from that account. You can also use it to ensure that the person cannot look you up on the social media site. While this only works from the one account you blocked, not all accounts the person has, it is a step you can take to deter the person’s comments.
Share Your Experience
One of the most powerful ways to combat online harassment is to share your experience with others. Post the screenshots on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and show your friends what the reality can sometimes be for women on the Internet. If nothing else, this raises awareness of the issue and can get other women to start talking about their own experiences of online harassment. It can also make men more aware that, even though they are behind a screen, their words still have an impact.
The first step toward making a change is raising awareness of the issue.