I get abuse and threats online - why can't it be stopped? (2023)

  • Published

I get abuse and threats online - why can't it be stopped? (1)Image source, Phil Coomes/BBC

By Marianna Spring

Specialist disinformation reporter, BBC News

Online abuse against women is on the rise, but why aren't the police, the government and social media companies doing more to stop it?

Warning: Story contains strong language

I'm the BBC's first specialist disinformation reporter - and I receive abusive messages on social media daily. Most are too offensive to share unedited. The trigger? My coverage of the impact of online conspiracies and fake news. I expect to be challenged and criticised - but misogynistic hate directed at me has become a very regular occurrence.

Messages are laden with slurs based on gender, and references to rape, beheading and sexual acts. Some are a mish-mash of conspiracy theories - that I'm "Zionist-controlled", that I, myself, am responsible for raping babies. The C-word and F-word are repeatedly used.

It's not just me - from politicians around the world and Love Island stars to frontline doctors, I've been hearing from women subjected to the same kind of hate. New research, shared with the BBC, suggests women are more likely to receive this sort of abuse than men, it's getting worse - and it's often combined with racism and homophobia.

I wanted to understand why this is happening, the threat it poses - and why social media sites, the police and the government aren't doing more about it. So, I set out to make a film for the BBC's Panorama programme.

We set up a fake troll account across the five most popular social media platforms to see whether they are promoting misogynistic hate to such users. Using an AI-generated photograph, we designed our fake troll to be similar to the people who sent me abuse. Our troll engaged with content recommended by the social media platforms, but did not send out any hate.

As part of the programme, think-tank Demos carried out a comprehensive deep dive into abuse received by reality TV contestants, analysing more than 90,000 posts and comments about them. It was perhaps a surprising place to start, but programmes like Love Island serve almost as a microcosm for society, allowing researchers to compare the abuse directed at men and women from different backgrounds. Their popularity also generates a lot of online conversation.

Image source, ITV

We discovered:

  • Our troll account was recommended more and more anti-women content by Facebook and Instagram, some involving sexual violence.
  • Female reality TV contestants - including those on this year's Love Island - are disproportionately targeted on social media, with abuse frequently rooted in misogyny and combined with racism.
  • Draft proposals for the UN asking social media companies to better protect women have been shared exclusively with Panorama.

Abusive accounts untouched

Social media companies say they take online hate against women seriously - and they have rules to protect users from abuse. These include suspending, restricting or even shutting down accounts sending hate.

But my experience suggests they often don't. I reported some of the worst messages I've ever received - including threats to come to my house to rape me and commit horrific sexual acts - to Facebook when I received them. But months later, the account remained on Facebook, along with dozens of other Instagram and Twitter accounts sending me abuse.

It turns out my experience is part of a pattern. New research for this programme by the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, shows how 97% of 330 accounts sending misogynistic abuse on Twitter and Instagram remained on the site after being reported.

Twitter and Instagram say they take action when their rules are violated, and closing accounts isn't the only option.

Find out more

Watch Marianna Spring's Panorama - Online abuse: Why Do You Hate Me? on the BBC iPlayer (UK only)

Troll hunting

Curious about who was running accounts sending me - and other women - abuse, I started by looking into the profiles targeting me. Most were men and based in the UK. Everything from calling me a "daft cow" and telling me I needed to "get laid" to threatening to come and find me and violently or sexually attack me, they bombard me with gender-based slurs again and again.

It turns out, they are real people - not bots. One is a Spurs fan, like me. Another likes vegan cooking. One, whose account was anonymous, even gave away his location by tweeting at delivery service Ocado complaining it didn't deliver to his postcode in Great Yarmouth.

I reached out to them - and one called Steve, a van driver in his 60s from the Midlands, agreed to speak to me on the phone. The messages he'd sent me were less offensive than most of the abuse I receive - mainly gender-based slurs.

Like lots of account holders who sent me hate, he is deep into online conspiracy theories. But like others, the abuse he sent me also attacked me for being a woman. At first he told me he didn't think his messages were that bad - but I explained they were just some of many punctuated with abuse streaming into my inbox.

"I probably made a mistake. I'm a pretty fair bloke," he eventually concluded.

He pointed out that he actually receives hate himself online from "people who believe in global warming and that 9/11 happened". They are responding to conspiracy theories that he shares on social media. I had hoped this might help him see why hate wasn't the answer. And I think by the end of our conversation he was coming around to the idea.

Our conversation got me thinking about what my trolls might be seeing on their social media feeds. I wanted to see whether social media algorithms are pushing more misogyny to accounts similar to those that abuse women online. So I created a fake online persona called Barry and signed him up to the five most popular social media platforms in the UK.

All the main social media companies say they don't promote hate on their platforms and take action to stop it. They each have algorithms that offer us content based on things we've posted, liked or watched in the past. But it's difficult to know what they push to each user.

"One of the only ways to do this is to manually create a profile and seeing the kind of rabbit hole that it might be led down by the platform itself, once you start to follow certain groups or pages," explains social media expert Chloe Colliver, who advised me on the experiment.

She works for the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, looking into extremism and disinformation on social media. She has helped journalists before, and advises me on how I can set up the profiles in an ethical and realistic way - only doing what's necessary to test the algorithms.

Barry's accounts were based on multiple accounts that had sent me abuse. Like my trolls, Barry was mainly interested in anti-vax content and conspiracy theories, and followed a small amount of anti-women content. He also posted some abuse on his profile - so that the algorithms could detect from the start he had an account that used abusive language about women. But unlike my trolls, he didn't message any women directly.

Over two weeks, I logged in every couple of days and followed recommendations, posted to Barry's profiles, liked posts and watched videos.

After just a week, the top recommended pages to follow on both Facebook and Instagram were almost all misogynistic. By the end of the experiment, Barry was pushed more and more anti-women content by these sites - a dramatic increase from when the account had been created. Some of this content involved sexual violence, sharing disturbing memes about sex acts, and content condoning rape, harassment and gendered violence.

They also referenced extreme ideologies. That included the "incel" movement - an internet subculture that encourages men to blame women for problems in their lives. It's been linked to several acts of violence, including recent shootings in Plymouth, in the UK.

"If it were a real person, [Barry] would have been brought into a hateful community full of misogynistic content very, very quickly - within two weeks," says Colliver.

Far from stopping Barry engaging with anti-women content, Facebook and Instagram appear to have promoted it to him. By contrast, there was no anti-women content on TikTok and very little on Twitter. YouTube suggested some videos hostile to women.

Facebook, which also owns Instagram, says it tries not to recommend content that breaks its rules and is improving its technology "to find and remove abuse more quickly".

YouTube says it has "strict policies" on hate and "quickly" removes content that breaks its rules.

That wasn't the only thing in the experiment that struck me. Barry's main interest was originally conspiracy theories and I had expected him to be inundated with that sort of content at the start. But he wasn't.

Social media sites have come under increasing pressure not to promote misleading information about vaccines and the pandemic. But why hasn't that happened with misogynistic content on Facebook and Instagram?

"They are driving up their bottom line by keeping people's interest in horrible, violent, often misogynistic content," says Colliver.

Nearly three billion people worldwide use Facebook - and last year it made on average $32 (£23) in advertising revenue per user. The longer people stay on the platform, the more ads it sells and the more money the tech giant makes.

Facebook says "protecting" its community is "more important than maximising profits".

It has announced new measures to tackle sexualised hate targeting journalists, politicians and celebrities on its sites.

Image source, Adrian Polglase/BBC

Love Island: Women 'disproportionately targeted'

For Panorama, researchers from think-tank Demos analysed messages of abuse directed at reality TV contestants on Love Island (ITV) and Married at First Sight (Channel 4). They found that female reality TV contestants are disproportionately targeted on social media with abuse frequently rooted in misogyny and combined with racism.

While the contestants received mostly positive messages, fashion blogger Kaz Kamwi, 26, and 23-year-old medical student Priya Gopaldas, told Panorama they also got some disturbing hate-filled messages.

"The most difficult abuse to receive is any that is racially motivated. When you look at me, I am a dark skinned black woman, that's the first thing you see," says Kaz. "And the fact that my family was exposed to that breaks my heart."

Ellen Judson, who led the research for Demos and focuses on social media policy, says reality TV is a great place to start looking at online hate because the genre is so popular with people expressing who they like or don't like.

"We also see that the contestants are a relatively equal mix of men and women - and from lots of different backgrounds - so it gives us an opportunity to analyse those differences in how the public are responding to them."

Demos looked at more than 90,000 online messages about Love Island and Married at First Sight contestants:

  • On Twitter, 26% of posts about females were abusive versus 14% of those directed at men
  • Abuse targeting women focused primarily on gender and sex (much more so than men), with messages littered with gender-based tropes and talk of sex acts
  • Hate intensified when combined with racist language directed at black and Asian female contestants

"People were using explicitly gendered slurs - women being manipulative, women being sneaky, being sexual, women being evil or stupid. Whereas what we saw with men was them being attacked for seemingly not being masculine enough - for being too weak," says Judson. "We also see that women of colour are receiving more pernicious attacks as well based on their race."

I wanted to see what impact this kind of abuse is having, so I spoke to politicians and frontline doctors who use social media to do their jobs. Like me they don't mind being criticised but they do mind when it gets personal.

I get abuse and threats online - why can't it be stopped? (2)

Getty Images

The attacks have been about my politics, my physical appearance and a lot about the fact I am gay

Former leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson fears that abuse targeting women online could turn back the clock when it comes to equality offline.

"The attacks that have come directly to me have been about my politics, some about my physical appearance, a lot has been about the fact that I am gay and a lot of it has been about the fact that I am a woman who has opinions."

There's also concern that online abuse could lead to real world harm.

"You look at your phone and you read somebody who is telling you as an NHS doctor that they want to rape you until you need one of your own ventilators," explains Dr Rachel Clarke, a frontline medic based in Oxford. She's been treating Covid patients during the pandemic and sees using social media as an extension of her duty as a doctor.

Image source, Adrian Polglase/BBC

That means she has frequently posted warnings about the impact of coronavirus - and encouraged her followers to have a Covid vaccine. It's those tweets in particular that often sparked a wave of misogynistic hate from anti-vaccine activists, not dissimilar to the accounts sending me hate.

"Male doctors that I know will receive abuse online as well. But the volume of abuse is much less. If you're a female doctor, it'll be much more visceral, and it will target you as a woman."

Offline violence

I've been taking part in a major piece of research for the UN's cultural agency Unesco - which looks at the impact of online hate. Lead researcher Julie Posetti and her team asked more than 800 women, journalists like me, about their experiences of online hate.

They then studied some of the accounts, including mine and that of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Maria Ressa. She's an investigative journalist from the Philippines who gets lots of online abuse and says she wears a bullet-proof vest because she fears being attacked.

"Online violence is really the new frontier of conflict that women face internationally," Posetti tells me.

Twenty per cent of women who responded to the UN's survey, in collaboration with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), said they had already experienced attacks in real-life, including stalking and physical assault.

I'm especially worried about some of the hate I receive online, including from a man who appears to have a prior conviction for stalking women. But I've been left frustrated at the police response. After a wave of abuse at the end of April this year, I reported the most serious threats to the police, including about sexual violence. It's a criminal offence to send messages online that are grossly offensive or obscene in order to cause distress.

An officer got in touch initially and I shared my evidence of the abuse - but I only heard back from her weeks later when she told me that she was moving teams, my case was being passed on and there had been no progress. I wasn't contacted by a new liaison officer until July - when it became clear that the evidence I'd shared originally with the police had been lost, something that was later admitted.

I tried to report another batch of rape threats, death threats and abusive messages at the end of July to the new officer. When we met in person in the middle of August, the officer admitted he was not the right person to handle the case - and that it should have been passed on to a specialist team. Yet more delays - and although the seriousness of the messages was acknowledged, there was little in the way of victim support.

By the end of August, I was on to my third police liaison officer - who asked me to review the portfolio of evidence I had already sent in, marking which messages were from Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as he wasn't sure how to use the platforms.

My latest liaison officer has requested more information from the social media sites - but still no progress.

According to data from several police forces, which Panorama obtained through Freedom of Information requests, over the past five years the number of people reporting online hate has more than doubled. But over the same period, there's only been a 32% increase in the number of arrests. The victims are mainly women.

This is happening in the context of increasing pressure on the Met in particular to do more to tackle violence against women on our streets after the killings of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa.

I raised concerns that people sending me abuse might turn up at my work - but I was just told to call 999 if I felt in danger.

The Metropolitan Police say they take online hate very seriously and that my case is under active investigation.

The National Police Chiefs Council says the police take all reports of malicious communications seriously and will investigate but must prioritise its finite resources. It says it can take action other than making arrests.

The solutions?

Draft proposals from the UN to get the social media companies to better protect women have been shared exclusively with Panorama. They are calling for social media platforms to introduce labels for accounts that have previously sent misogynistic abuse. They also want to see more human moderators taking the decisions about offensive material - and an early warning system for users if they think online abuse could escalate into real world harm.

"We would like to see gender-based online violence treated at least as seriously as disinformation has been during the pandemic by the platforms," explains Julie Posetti, who led the research that triggered these recommendations.

"I think we have to challenge," says Ruth Davidson. "I don't think that it is in anybody's interests for women who are consistently abused in a way that a man wouldn't be to let other young women who are online and seeing that abuse think that's just the way things are."

For women of all ages - myself included - that means refusing to be bullied off social media.

You may also be interested in:

Related Topics

  • Internet trolls
  • Online abuse
  • Disinformation
  • Fake News
  • Love Island

More on this story

  • Facebook whistleblower reveals identity

    • Published

      4 October 2021

  • Love Island star got death threat from 13-year-old

    • Published

      14 September 2021

  • Government lays out plans to protect users online

    • Published

      12 May 2021


How can we stop online abuse? ›

The best measure against cyber harassment is to limit the information you make accessible online. You should avoid sharing any personal details and stay vigilant about revealing real-time data, like where you are and whom you're with. Also, Google your name and assess what information shows up.

What are the long term effects of online abuse? ›

It can lead to: anxiety. self-harm. eating disorders.

What is online abuse called? ›

Cyberbullying. Bullying that occurs on social media, online gaming or via mobile phones is called cyberbullying. It can be more harmful than other forms of bullying as it can occur day or night. It is sometimes harder to trace the bully online.

Can I call the police if someone is harassing me online? ›

Anyone who is aware of online harassment can report it to the authorities. However, a law enforcement agency may require that either the person experiencing harassment or their legal representative of guardian file the related police report.

Is online harassment a crime in the US? ›

History, current legislation

Cyberstalking is a criminal offense under American anti-stalking, slander, and harassment laws. A conviction can result in a restraining order, probation, or criminal penalties against the assailant, including jail. Cyberstalking specifically has been addressed in recent U.S. federal law.

Why are people abusive online? ›

However, the researchers also found that the strongest inhibitor of online aggression wasn't lack of anonymity per se but the act of maintaining eye contact. In other words, anonymity may lay the path for aggression but the lack of social feedback is what drives the abuser on.

How abuse affects the brain? ›

Emotional abuse is linked to thinning of certain areas of the brain that help you manage emotions and be self-aware — especially the prefrontal cortex and temporal lobe. Epigenetic changes and depression. Research from 2018 has connected childhood abuse to epigenetic brain changes that may cause depression.

What mental illnesses are caused by abuse? ›

Experiencing abuse or other trauma puts people at risk of developing mental health conditions, such as:
  • Anxiety disorders.
  • Depression.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Misusing alcohol or drugs.
  • Borderline personality disorder.
Feb 16, 2021

Can you get PTSD from emotional abuse? ›

Emotional abuse can lead to C-PTSD, a type of PTSD that involves ongoing trauma. C-PTSD shows many of the same symptoms as PTSD, although its symptoms and causes can differ. Treatment should be tailored to the situation to address the ongoing trauma the person experienced from emotional abuse.

What are inappropriate online behavior? ›

Inappropriate online behavior often includes cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can include: Posting mean or threatening texts/messages. Causing embarrassment to others by posting pictures, creating a website, or revealing personal information. Pretending to be someone by using their name.

What are the four types of Internet abuse? ›

Internet abuse
  • Cyberbullying, use of the internet to bully and intimidate.
  • Cybercrime, use of computers in criminal activity.
  • Cybersex trafficking, the live streaming of coerced sexual acts and or rape.
  • Internet homicide, the killing online.
  • Malware, software designed to harm a user's computer, including computer viruses.

Who are the victims of online abuse? ›

Online abuse takes several forms, and victims are not confined to public figures. They can do any job, be of any age, gender, sexual orientation or social or ethnic background, and live anywhere.

Can the police do anything about someone cyberstalking you? ›

Even though there is not a specific federal law against cyberstalking, there are laws that can be used to prosecute those who engage in cyberstalking. Cyberstalking is a serious crime and it can result in serious consequences for those who engage in this behavior.

What is the sentence for online harassment? ›

How Does California Law Punish Cyberstalking? Cyberstalking is punished the same way that the crime of stalking is punished. Cyberstalking is punished with a jail sentence of up to one year in county jail, a fine of $1,000, or both.

Where can I report online harassment? ›

You can report these crimes to your local FBI field office and/or the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). The IC3 can review a complaint and refer it to the appropriate law enforcement agency. However, one of the main purposes for the IC3 is for federal law enforcers to monitor trends and repeat offenders.

What is the federal law for online threats? ›

The federal law concerning cyberstalking is 18 U.S.C. § 2261A(2). It provides that it's unlawful for any person to engage in a course of conduct through electronic communication that makes another individual reasonably fear death or serious bodily harm to themselves or another (including a pet or service animal).

How many states have laws against online harassment? ›

Is cyberbullying illegal? And if so, how are cyberbullying laws enforced? There is currently no federal law against cyberbullying, but all 50 states have laws against bullying in general—and every state except Alaska and Wisconsin includes an explicit reference to cyberbullying in their anti-bullying laws.

What are the psychological effects of online abuse? ›

These may include depression, isolation, anxiety, and dissociation, among others. Adolescents who experience online harassment are three times as likely to have suicidal thoughts. Negative effects may worsen if harassment continues, but victims of online abuse often find it hard to get help.

What is verbal abuse online? ›

Digital abuse is the use of technology and the Internet to bully, harass, stalk, intimidate, or control a partner. This behavior is often a form of verbal or emotional abuse conducted online. Telling you who you can or can't follow, or be friends with on social media.

What is emotional abuse online? ›

Emotional abuse – insults, threatening harm to themselves or others, attacking self esteem, deliberately ignoring victims, distorting and denying the truth.

How do you heal your brain from abuse? ›

Trauma survivors can capitalize on this plasticity to heal. A traumatized brain tends to experience excessive activation in areas related to fear, and reduced activation in "thinking" areas. Psychotherapy and mindfulness training can reduce activation in the fear center and allow for healthy emotional expression.

What are 3 effects of abuse? ›

Maltreatment can cause victims to feel isolation, fear, and distrust, which can translate into lifelong psychological consequences that can manifest as educational difficulties, low self-esteem, depression, and trouble forming and maintaining relationships.

Can the brain heal from emotional abuse? ›

The functions of the amygdala, hippocampus, and the prefrontal cortex that are affected by emotional trauma can also be reversed. The brain is ever-changing and recovery is possible.

What personality disorder is abusive? ›

Those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or those with BPD who may not even know they have it, are more likely than the general population to be verbally, emotionally/psychologically, physically abusive.

What are the six long term effects of abuse? ›

Problems now concretely linked to child abuse and neglect include behavioral and achievement problems in school; heart, lung and liver disease; obesity and diabetes; depression, anxiety disorders, and increased suicide attempts; increased criminal behaviors, illicit drug use and alcohol abuse; increased risky sexual ...

What trauma does to a person? ›

Trauma can make you more vulnerable to developing mental health problems. It can also directly cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some people misuse alcohol, drugs, or self-harm to cope with difficult memories and emotions. Depending on how you're affected, trauma may cause difficulties in your daily life.

What is my trauma test? ›

The Trauma Test is a brief self-administered rating scale. It is useful in determining the degree to which you struggle with the aftermath of trauma, anxiety or depression, nervous system overarousal, and difficulty with healing and recovery.

What does PTSD look like in a woman? ›

Women with PTSD may be more likely than men with PTSD to: Be easily startled. Have more trouble feeling emotions or feel numb. Avoid things that remind them of the trauma.

What are the 17 symptoms of complex PTSD? ›

Changes in physical and emotional reactions
  • Being easily startled or frightened.
  • Always being on guard for danger.
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior.
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame.

Why do people behave worse online? ›

Influencing factors

Anonymity, asynchronous communication, and empathy deficit contribute to online disinhibition. Anonymity can make a person feel safe online, like a different person; one might even take on a new persona.

What are examples of unsafe behaviour online? ›

You must recognize these actions in your behavior and work toward reducing them.
  • Opening Email Attachments. ...
  • Clicking On Hyperlinks From Social Networks. ...
  • Downloading Files From Third-Party Sources. ...
  • Using Portable/Removable Media. ...
  • Using Open Wireless Networks.

What are unacceptable behaviors on social media? ›

Posts that are rude, offensive, gossip or rumour-spreading, racist, sexist, homophobic, belittling, bullying or harassing, threatening or unwanted by the recipient are not okay. It's also not okay to share, 'like' or tag other people in posts like these.

What is an example of internet abuse? ›

Internet abuse may also include online bullying, often known as cyber-bullying. This is when a child is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted online (and offline) by another child via social networks, gaming and/or mobile devices.

What is social harassment? ›

Social media harassment refers to several antagonistic behaviors practiced by social media users. Another common term is cyberbullying; however, social media harassment affects more people than preteens on Instagram or any social media channel.

What are some of the traumatic effects of cyberbullying? ›

The effects of cyberbullying also include mental health issues, increased stress and anxiety, depression, acting out violently, and low self-esteem. Cyberbullying can also result in long-lasting emotional effects, even if the bullying has stopped.

Is verbal abuse online a crime? ›

"Verbal abuse" does not exist as a crime. Physical assault, on the other hand, is a crime. Threatening physical injury or violence, on the other hand, is illegal. The victim can seek assault or battery charges against you if you threaten or commit physical violence.

Why is online abuse bad? ›

It can affect women's wellbeing, mental health, confidence, relationships and sense of safety. It can also lead to women stepping back from public conversations or self-censoring out of fear for their privacy and safety.

Who is the most common victim of online predators? ›

Children between the ages of 12 and 15 are especially susceptible to be groomed or manipulated by adults they meet online. According to the F.B.I., over 50 percent of the victims of online sexual exploitation are between the ages of 12 and 15.

How do I stop being scared of threats? ›

If you are not in immediate danger, take a deep breath. Acknowledge that you are frightened and practice self-compassion. Once you have calmed a bit, you can decide how to proceed. Mindfulness can also be a helpful practice for reducing stress by helping you "come back down" after perceiving a threat.

What to do if someone is intimidating you? ›

You should tell the police you're being intimidated - they can help keep you safe. The police can arrest the person who's intimidating you. If you don't feel able to tell the police straight away, talk to someone else instead - for example, a friend, neighbour or a professional, like a doctor.

How do I stop being intimidating? ›

If you want to be less intimidating, take steps you use good eye contact and open body language. Other strategies, such as smiling, expressing gratitude, and having good conversational skills, can also be beneficial. National Institute of Mental Health.

Is cyberstalking hard to prove? ›

Proving that someone is stalking you will be impossible without any evidence. Document and preserve all communications, posts, photos, and other media the cyberstalker posted or sent you. While you might want to delete threatening messages, doing so can make it challenging to present your case in court.

Does FBI handle cyberstalking? ›

The FBI is the lead federal agency for investigating cyber attacks and intrusions.

Can stalkers track your phone? ›

Stalkerware (and spyware) can monitor your device for data such as your location, which URLs you've visited and which apps you've recently run. It can even log keystrokes, giving away information about anything you've typed into your phone, including passwords.

What constitutes psychological harassment? ›

Psychological harassment is a form of vexatious behaviour that involves repeated hostile and unwanted words, behaviour, or actions that are painful, hurtful, annoying, humiliating or insulting.

What cybercrime is considered to be a form of harassment? ›

Type of cyber harassment

Harassment and stalking: repeatedly sending threats or hurtful messages via messaging platforms or phone calls. Outing and trickery: engaging someone in instant messaging, tricking him or her into revealing personal and sensitive information.

How to stop abusing social media? ›

Turn off your personal phone during work, as well as during school, meals, and recreational activities. You can also adjust the setting on each social media app so you can turn off certain notifications. Set aside a certain amount of time dedicated to social media per day. Turn on a timer to help keep you accountable.

How can we stop peer abuse? ›

Preventing Peer-to-Peer Abuse
  1. Train staff on the risks of peer-to-peer sexual activity. ...
  2. Create monitoring plans for high-risk activities. ...
  3. Create plans for monitoring facilities. ...
  4. Monitor staff compliance with supervision policies.

How can you help in preventing Internet addiction and cyberbullying? ›

What Can You Do to Help Prevent Cyberbullying?
  1. Make the most of privacy settings. Investigate what measures you can take to keep content private on the websites you use. ...
  2. Think before you post. Never forget that the internet is public. ...
  3. Keep personal information personal.

How can we overcome abuse? ›

Let the Healing Begin: 11 Tips to Overcoming Emotional Abuse
  1. Familiarize Yourself with What Constitutes Emotional Abuse. ...
  2. Recognize the Qualities of a Healthy Relationship. ...
  3. Know That It Is Not Okay. ...
  4. Understand That Abuse Is a Cycle. ...
  5. Reach Out to Family and Friends. ...
  6. Seek the Guidance of a Professional. ...
  7. Stand Up for Yourself.
Jun 16, 2017

What causes social media addiction? ›

Amongst the most widely-recognised causes of addiction to social media are low self-esteem, personal dissatisfaction, depression and hyperactivity, and even lack of affection, a deficiency that adolescents frequently try to replace with the famous likes.

What is Internet addiction disorder? ›

Internet addiction is when a person has a compulsive need to spend a great deal of time on the Internet, to the point where other areas of life (such as relationships, work or health) are allowed to suffer.

Why am I addicted to social media? ›

The 'dopamine loop'

Using social media can lead to physical and psychological addiction because it triggers the brain's reward system to release dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical. Dopamine is actually a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger between neurons) involved in neurological and physiological functioning.

What are three signs of peer on peer abuse? ›

Spotting the signs
  • absence from school or lack of interest in school activities.
  • physical injuries which can't be explained.
  • mental or emotional health issues.
  • becoming withdrawn or showing a lack of self esteem.
  • lack of sleep.
  • alcohol or substance misuse.
  • sudden changes in behaviour.
  • inappropriate behaviour.

Which of the following are potential long term effects of abuse? ›

Some of the long-term adverse outcomes associated with maltreatment include cognitive disability, anxiety and depression, psychosis, teen-aged pregnancy, addiction disorders, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.

What are the warning signs of peer to peer abuse? ›

Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares (for residential camps or children reporting these signs). Loss of interest in program or activities, or not wanting to go or to participate. Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations. Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem.

What is the most effective way to treat Internet addiction? ›

Talk therapy is almost always incorporated into the treatment of Internet addiction. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and group therapy are common. Medication may be used to help manage symptoms of underlying mental illness and control intrusive thoughts about going online.

What are 3 ways in which cyberbullying can impact your mental health? ›

The effects of cyberbullying also include mental health issues, increased stress and anxiety, depression, acting out violently, and low self-esteem. Cyberbullying can also result in long-lasting emotional effects, even if the bullying has stopped.

What is verbal intimidation? ›

Verbal abuse involves using words to name call, bully, demean, frighten, intimidate, or control another person. This can include overt verbal abuse such as yelling, screaming, or swearing. Such behaviors are attempts to gain power, and the goal is to control and intimidate you into submission.

Does emotional abuse cause PTSD? ›

Emotional abuse can lead to C-PTSD, a type of PTSD that involves ongoing trauma. C-PTSD shows many of the same symptoms as PTSD, although its symptoms and causes can differ. Treatment should be tailored to the situation to address the ongoing trauma the person experienced from emotional abuse.

What are the 5 signs of emotional abuse? ›

5 Signs of Emotional Abuse
  • They are Hyper-Critical or Judgmental Towards You. ...
  • They Ignore Boundaries or Invade Your Privacy. ...
  • They are Possessive and/or Controlling. ...
  • They are Manipulative. ...
  • They Often Dismiss You and Your Feelings.
May 23, 2017

How does emotional abuse affect the brain? ›

Emotional abuse is linked to thinning of certain areas of the brain that help you manage emotions and be self-aware — especially the prefrontal cortex and temporal lobe. Epigenetic changes and depression. Research from 2018 has connected childhood abuse to epigenetic brain changes that may cause depression.


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