How to deal with online harassment, 'sextortion' and revenge porn

There are many forms of violence online, often subjected on women.

There's a lot of abuse in cyber space and many have either been a witness or a victim of virtual violence, explains clinical sexologist Dr. Eve.

Virtual violence can take on the form of online harassment, revenge porn or 'sextortion'.

Online harassment

Online harassment typically takes the form of unsolicited remarks that sexualise a person online or insults about a person's physical appearance, advises Dr. Eve.

They post an image of you out online. Or comment on your profile, harassing you because you've dumped them and they won't let go.

Dr Eve, clinical sexologist

Every single day you're going to receive an e-mail, tweet, text, Facebook post.. Every single platform that is possible, they will send nasty and horrid messages that affront and assault your senses.

Dr Eve, clinical sexologist

Online harassment can manifest itself in these ways:

  • being called offensive names
  • efforts to purposefully embarrass someone
  • someone being physically threatened
  • someone being sexually harassed
  • stalking

Dr Eve says online harassment can be continuous, with ongoing triggers which travel far on the internet.

Online harassment is often more dramatic, because you can't get away from it

Dr Eve, clinical sexologist

Revenge porn

Revenge porn is one form on violence online, in which scorned lovers target their former partners, posting private images or information - usually of a sexual nature.

Dr Eve explains that revenge porn is serious violation and an invasion of privacy.

She says women may feel hopeless because of lack of concrete legal grounds to regulate revenge porn online.

South Africa, like many other countries worldwide, is looking to criminalise revenge porn, Dr Eve explains.

Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Yahoo have joined the effort to remove what is called involuntary pornography.

There can be lack of sympathy towards the victims of revenge porn, but Dr Eve says that people must not fall prey to the 'slut-shaming' culture which seeks to use someone's sexual history to embarrass them.

She offers the following advice for victims of online harassment or revenge porn:

  • do not send your entire body - exclude your face from the picture, if you want to send nudes
  • be aware of sextortion: when a person threatens to release your naked images online unless you pay
  • tell your employer about it, if you are a victim of revenge porn
  • seek legal advise
  • contact a therapist to help you deal with the trauma
  • keep a record of the number of times you are harassed: write every incident down
  • block the person from your social media pages to avoid continuous provocation
  • where possible, screen grab the images and texts, including the comments, as evidence before deleting them online
  • do not re-read or respond to the harassment as it triggers more trauma

To get more advice, visit Dr. Eve's blog.

Listeners called in to share their experiences and thoughts on the topic:

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