Trolls and Toxicity: Surviving Online Harassment

The girl grows sad after reading a message from a cyberbully.Sexual harassment, sometimes referred to as cyberbullying or cyberbullying, has become more widespread as internet use has increased According to 2017 statistics, 41% of US adults have been cyberbullying.

These figures increase when we look at online youth exclusion. In a 2014 review, between 20% and 40% of adolescents reported experiencing some form of online harassment. However, as not everyone who is harassed reports it, the actual prevalence of harassment may be somewhat higher.

Online harassment can have serious consequences for mental health at any age. Just because abuse is done online doesn't make it any less real.

Types of electronic harassment

Of the adults who have been harassed, 18% report severe harassment such as persecution, threats or continuous harassment campaigns. Women are more likely than men to experience sexual harassment and take pictures that are sexually explicit. More than half of women between the ages of 18 and 29 report receiving unwanted sexual images online. The research also suggests that gender equality and ethnic minorities are being harassed online at increased prices.

Online harassment can take many forms. Common types include:

  • Drawing: Making some kind of negative or annoying comment is to upset, humiliate or defame someone.
  • Message Bomb: Sending an extreme number of texts, conversations, instant messages or emails to prevent account access. This is often done with the help of bots.
  • Doxxing: Sharing someone's online personal information, such as a phone number or home address. Sometimes this is done to facilitate identity theft. At other times, information is shared so that people can harass the person both in the physical and online areas.
  • Revenge porn: Sharing sexually explicit photos or videos of a person without their consent. About 41 states have anti-revenge porn laws.
  • Swatting: Making a false report to the police about illegal activity happening at one's home. At best, this can be extremely annoying. At worst, it can endanger the person as well as their family or roommates.

The serious effects of mental health on electronic harassment

Today's society is based on technology. It is often difficult, if not impossible, to avoid using the Internet, email or social media for work, school or personal use every day. But people who deal with online harassment can feel anxious and anxious when they have to do these routine activities. This misery can reduce his performance at school or at work. Severe or persistent harassment can contribute to depression, suicidal thoughts and even suicide attempts.

When our sense of emotional security in the world is compromised, so is our psychological health."When our sense of emotional security in the world is compromised, so is our psychological health, "says Allison Abrams, LCSW-R. Some groups may be particularly vulnerable to harassment." They have certain risk factors, such as a history of trauma. , previous depressive episodes or family history of depression, etc., are particularly vulnerable. In some of these cases, online harassment can trigger a clinical depressive episode. Humiliation of the public can provoke or aggravate feelings of worthlessness, isolation and low self-esteem – contributing to clinical depression. "

A 2017 study looked at the effects of cyberstalking among 100 people. Study participants reported feelings of fear, anxiety, depression and weakness. Many of them changed jobs or changed their daily lives significantly as a result of cyberstalking.

Other research shows that 40% of people experiencing online harassment develop lower self esteem. About 30% of people worry that their lives are in danger.

Numerous studies have shown the risk of mental health symptoms in young people who are cyberbullying or cyberbullying. These can include depression, isolation, anxiety and dimension, among others. Teenagers who are subjected to cyberbullying are three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts.

The negative effects may worsen if harassment continues, but victims of online abuse often find it difficult to get help.

Report harassment

Not everyone reports online blocking or harassment. Those who do often are not believed, which can compound the anxiety they are experiencing. Even when it is believed that people who report harassment, freedom of speech is protected by law, so a legal gray area surrounds certain forms of harassment. This may limit the actions that legal authorities can take.

Trying to report online harassment can be frustrating when intimidation and threats are not taken seriously. These are real concerns and should be treated as such, especially if they have a negative impact on your health.

Many states have laws on cyberbullying and cyberbullying, so it's still a good idea to report harassment. While it may be discouraging if authorities do not respond and harassment persists, violent threats should always be reported.

If you are experiencing online harassment, consider taking these steps:

  • Get access to your site or platform administrator. Larger sites like Facebook and Twitter often have built-in reporting mechanisms for harassment. For smaller sites, you may need to contact the site administrator directly. These options can help the person block and prevent your contact from coming back. Save the emails or emails you send and the replies you receive from the administrator.
  • Avoid contacting the person who is bothering you. Do not interact with them or deal with them in any way. If you know the person, you can ask a parent, a friend or someone you trust to reach out to the person and ask him or her to stop sending you messages. This may help in some cases, but in others it may be better to let law enforcement handle the situation.
  • Report the person to law enforcement. The officer you are talking to may be able to give you more guidance on how to proceed. Keep reporting any further incidents.
  • If you believe that the person harassing you is in violation of the law, you may want to involve a lawyer.
  • Seek social and professional support. This can help reduce the negative impact of online harassment.

Addressing online harassment

Research shows that many people who are subjected to online harassment receive little support from law enforcement professionals or community organizations, such as their schools or universities. Lack of support can significantly increase the chances that online harassment will have long-term consequences for mental health.

You may feel a tendency to avoid the internet after being harassed. This way you can reduce the discomfort and perhaps help you cope with the experience. But avoiding social media could also make it difficult to talk to friends and family, which can lead to isolation. If you choose to stop using the internet for a while, let your friends and family know what's going on and edit a plan to stay in touch so you don't isolate.

It is often difficult to share unpleasant experiences such as harassment or abuse online. But friends and family can offer support and advice, so talking to them can help more than keeping the situation to yourself.

Practicing good self-care can also help you cope. Time to take care of yourself is always a good idea, but self-care becomes even more important when you are in distress. If you're feeling anxious, overwhelmed or angry, try:

  • I am going for a walk
  • State what you feel
  • Join an online harassment support team
  • Get a massage
  • Application of relaxation techniques

Another part of self-care is taking care of your emotional health. It may be easier to deal with online harassment when working with a therapist. They can offer compassion, support and understanding in a safe environment. They are also likely to have suggestions on how to deal with harassment. At the very least, they will be able to listen and help you develop strategies to deal with your misery.

If you are experiencing online harassment and are not already working with a therapist, the GoodTherapy directory is a good place to start your search. You are not alone, so do not wait for help.

bibliographical references

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  3. Defining "Online Harassment": Glossary of Terms. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  4. Duggan, M. (2017, July 11). Harassment 2017. Retrieved from
  5. Nixon, C.L. (2014, August 1). Current perspectives: The impact of cyberbullying on adolescent health. Adolescent health, medical and therapeutic, 5, 143-158. Retrieved from
  6. Worsley, J.D., Wheatcroft, J., M., Short, E., & Corcoran, R. (2017, May 23). Victims' voices: Understanding the emotional impact of cyberstalking and the responses of individuals. SAGE Journals, 7(2). Retrieved from

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