One of the few things you can control about online abuse is how you react and how you treat yourself. Here are some actions you can take to protect your mental well-being.
As soon as you experience online abuse:
First, take a deep breath and know that you are not alone. Sadly, far from it. You are now among countless women and gender-diverse people who face backlash for daring to have a voice online.
Taking care of your wellness is paramount when expressing yourself online.
40% of people who experience online harassment develop lower self-esteem, according to research, while about 30% of people worry their lives may be in danger, according to US research.
Steps for Self-Care
Focusing on things you can do something about is helpful after experiencing something as disempowering as online abuse.
- quiet the noise: mute notifications on your devices, stay offline for awhile
- mute the abuser – they won’t even know
- ask a friend, family member, or co-worker to monitor comments
- talk about it with someone/people you trust
- seek community-based, professional, and/or social support
To relieve stress caused by things you can’t control, it is helpful to focus on yourself.
- online abusers are often attention seekers – don’t respond, don’t engage! this is what the phrase “don’t feed the trolls” means, “troll” being the term for people who instigate online abuse
- don’t research the abuser or look into their social media
- don’t isolate – seek the company of someone/people you trust
Listen to your body’s cues and engage in activities that nourish it and your spirit, like resting, movement, meditation, creativity, and eating when hungry.
You are an Informed Opinions alum or supporter because you recognize how critical it is for women and gender-diverse people to contribute to public discourse and the policies it informs. You have valuable insights to offer on important topics. You deserve to be heard. So, revisit your purpose for expressing what you did.
If your voice is silenced, what issues are more likely to be overlooked?
By speaking up online, to whose realities are you helping draw attention?
To weather potential backlash, what additional support can you seek?
This blogger has a pep talk just for you: “An open letter to people who do things”
How can you protect your heart against online abuse before it happens?
“We come from very different realms, but the tactics used to silence us are very much all the same.” – Renee Bracey Sherman, American activist and documentary producer
Until we achieve an internet that is free from gender-based violence, you have to be prepared for potential backlash when you express yourself online.
There are plenty of steps you can take to protect yourself and your digital devices from potential online abuse.
Before pressing that “Publish“, “Submit“, “Post“, or “Tweet“ button, take the time to build your psychological armour. Think of it as your emotional/mental shield.
Women Influencing Tech Spaces suggests several ways to get ready and steady for potential online abuse:
- remember your strengths
- pause and reflect on your worth
- maintain perspective
- acknowledge your feelings
- surround yourself with supportive people
- create a safe(r) space offline
- and BE KIND TO YOURSELF ❤