It's never your fault
If you've experienced any form of online violence, it’s important to remember that this is never your fault. Online spaces should be safe and respectful environments for everyone and it is not your responsibility to prevent or tolerate any form of abuse. No one has the right to compromise your safety and dignity, whether in the physical world or online.
Stop all communication
When confronted with online violence, the immediate reaction should be to cease all communication with the aggressor. This can be a challenging step, especially if the perpetrator is someone you know or have trusted in the past. Block them across all platforms where they could potentially reach you – social media, email, and even your phone. It’s a significant step towards reclaiming your safety and preventing further abuse.
While it may be instinctual to delete all traces of abuse to quickly move past the unpleasant experience, documentation is a powerful tool. Preserve every piece of evidence – screenshots, emails, messages – anything that substantiates the violence, abuse, or exploitation. This documentation serves two purposes: it acts as a shield, reinforcing your experience's validity, and can aid you if you choose to pursue legal action or report the violence.
Consider seeking help
Isolation often amplifies the impact of online violence or abuse. It’s vital to break this cycle by reaching out and talking to someone you trust. This could be a friend, family member, or even a professional. Partner organisations of UNHCR provide a variety of support mechanisms – from hotlines to counselling services – designed to help you navigate through the hard times. Seeking help is a courageous step towards healing and moving forward.
Report your case
When considering reporting the incident, think about both the platform providers and the appropriate authorities.
Determining when to escalate a situation to authorities depends on the severity and nature of the violence. If you feel threatened, if the abuse is persistent, or if it escalates to a point where your safety (or someone else’s) is at risk, you should involve the authorities. UNHCR and its partner organisations can support you in this process, ensuring your voice is heard and your case is taken seriously. Never hesitate to reach out for assistance when needed.
Always focus on yourself
You have the right to make decisions that are the best for you and to prioritise yourself. You should know that you are not alone in this experience. Many have faced similar challenges and have found pathways to overcome them. You have the full right to make decisions that prioritise your safety and well-being. Whether it’s taking a break from social media, engaging in activities that bring you peace, or seeking supportive communities, your well-being should always be at the forefront.