From: Women and Gender Equality Canada
Gender-based violence (GBV) doesn’t just happen in person. Online or technology-facilitated violence is an often-dismissed but very common form of GBV, and we need to take it seriously.
It’s not just words
Online or technology-facilitated violence is any form of gender-based violence in which technology is used to cause harm. This can include:
- online threats or insults
- online harassment
- stalking someone using GPS or social media
- forcing a partner to share passwords
- sharing someone’s sexual images without consent
Women, girls and transgender and gender-diverse youth are at a higher risk of experiencing violence online than other groups.
How is online violence harmful?
Online or technology-facilitated violence is often not taken as seriously as other forms of gender-based violence — but it can be just as harmful. Since it happens through our devices, online violence can follow its victims around wherever they are, any time. It can make people feel unsafe no matter where they go. It can have a lasting psychological impact. And it can feel impossible to escape.
Plus, when online violence spreads, it can lead to an increase in negative attitudes towards women, and lead to more gender-based violence offline, too.
What can I do if I witness online GBV?
You can choose how you respond to online violence, whether it’s happening to you personally or you see it happening to someone else.
If you’re experiencing online violence:
- Talk to someone you trust. A safe adult can help you deal with the stress of online harassment and help you take steps to stop it.
- Document everything. Keep a record of messages, usernames and any other relevant information. You can also ask a friend or family member to do this for you.
- Contact the police. If you feel unsafe or are in an emergency, call your local law enforcement office.
- Get help if you need it. Resources are available to provide you help and support. Get help now.
If you see someone else experiencing online violence:
- Reach out. Send the person a private message asking them if they are OK or need any help.
- Report harmful content. Most social media websites allow you to report dangerous or hateful content. Block the person responsible so they can’t contact you.
- Talk about it. Discuss online violence with your friends and family, online and offline. The more we all know about online violence, the more we can do to stop it.
If you or someone you know is experiencing gender-based violence, help is available.
If you need immediate assistance, call 911 or your local law enforcement.
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