What is online abuse?

Online abuse is any type of abuse that happens on the internet. It can happen across any device that's connected to the web, like computers, tablets and mobile phones. And it can happen anywhere online, including: social media. text messages and messaging apps. emails. 

People have the right to expect the same standards of behaviour online as those expected in face-to-face interactions. If something is illegal, unfair or unacceptable face-to-face, then it doesn’t make it acceptable to behave that way online. 

Think you have experienced online bullying, abuse or harassment?

Protecting yourself 

  • Check your privacy settings: They are there to help you control who sees what you post and manage your online experience in a positive way. For step-by- step guides on how to set your privacy settings on different social media platforms click here
  • Keep personal info personal: Be cautious about how much personal information you provide online and on social networking sites. There are several “people finder” websites you can check to see what information of yours is already online. Turn off the geolocation on your phone and location tagging in your social media apps. 
  • Limit contact with an abusive account and limit exposure to abusive content: Social Media platforms have features like blocking, muting, and restricting which can help you protect yourself from unwarranted, inappropriate, or harmful conduct. This website provides information on how to do this on some of the main platforms. 
  • Keep your accounts secure: Change your passwords, make it difficult to guess and  do not share with anyone. 
  • Take care of your wellbeing: Try and take a break from the screen, turn your phone notifications off or maybe switch it off all together for some periods of time if you are able to. 
Reporting issues

  • Document the harassment: Documenting online abuse provides a record of what’s happened so you can take further action  This guide provides information on  capturing screenshots on the most commonly used devices. 
  • Report to the Police: If a person sends you threatening, abusive or offensive messages online or via social networking site, they could be committing a criminal offence. You can report this  to the Police online or by calling  101.The most relevant offences are 'harassment' and 'malicious communications'. For an harassment offence to be committed, there must have been a clear 'course of conduct'. That is, two or more related occurrences. The messages do not necessarily have to be violent in nature, but would need to have caused some alarm or distress. 
    If there has only been a single communication, it’s unlikely it would qualify as harassment, but could be considered a malicious communication. For such an offence to be committed, a message must be sent to another person, or sent via a public communications network, that is indecent, grossly offensive, obscene, threatening or menacing. 
  • Report to the platform the abuse is taking place: They will have processes in place to respond to such issues and may be able to simply remove the content and even close down the person's account.  www.reportharmfulcontent.com is a website that offers advice on how you can report issues to different platforms. 
  • Report Hate speech: Online content which incites hatred on the grounds of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender can be reported to True Vision at www.report-it.org.uk
  • If you have experienced or witnessed bullying and harassment within the Christ Church online community you can report this via our online Report+Support tool.  
Support and resources

If you have experienced or witnessed online bullying and harassment you can talk confidentially to our Student Wellbeing Service or to a Report and Support Advisor for emotional support. 

Other useful links: 

  • Stop online abuse: Find out more about online abuse and harassment, what it is, and what you can do to stop it. 
  • Refuge tech safety website: This site provides support and advice to women who are being harassed by abusers using modern technology as a weapon of control and coercion. 
  • Revenge Porn Helpline: A UK service supporting adults (aged 18+) who are experiencing intimate image abuse, also known as, revenge porn. 
  • The report harmful content website offers advice and a platform where you can report content that has caused you or someone you know distress or harm. Specific harms addressed include online abuse, bullying and harassment, threats, impersonation, and various types of upsetting content such as self-harm and suicidal content. 
  • Online harassment field manual: Whether you’re experiencing or witnessing online abuse, this field manual offers concrete strategies for how to defend yourself and others. This guidance was written with and for those disproportionately impacted by online abuse: writers, journalists, artists, and activists who identify as women, BIPOC, and/or LGBTQIA+. Whatever your identity or vocation, anyone active online will find useful tools and resources here for navigating online abuse and tightening digital safety. 
For more information and to find out more about using Report and Support, please take a look at these pages


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