As soon as you experience online abuse:
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.
One of the few things you can control about online abuse is how you react and how you treat yourself.
40% of people who experience online harassment develop lower self-esteem, while about 30% of people worry their lives may be in danger, according to US research.
Taking care of your wellness is paramount when expressing yourself online.
"If you are standing alone on the right side of history, you are standing in the right place. But that place is often scary and lonely. Surround yourself with those who will support you and help care for you, and never read the comments."
- Celina Caesar-Chavennes
Protect your mental health.
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 where the expression "Don’t feed the trolls" comes from -- "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
If you are an Informed Opinions alum or supporter, it's 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, whose realities are you helping to illuminate?
To weather potential backlash, what additional support can you seek?
Take additional inspiration from this compelling reminder: “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
Acknowledge your feelings
Surround yourself with supportive people
Create a safe(r) space offline
BE KIND TO YOURSELF ❤