When you are a victim of harassment, it is easy to panic. However, experts advise victims to remember that they have ways to fight back. And much of it includes steps to protect yourself from the psychological harm of online abuse.
“Feeling like you have some agency can be really empowering,” Chou said. “You can assert power where you have it.”
Use all the tools that social media services offer. Mute, block or filter users and threads attacking you. Use reporting tools to report abusive comments or posts to businesses.
Third-party apps and services can also be helpful. Chou’s Block Party allows users to choose which groups of people they want to receive notifications from. Notifications from all other users are placed in a separate folder for later review. And Tall Poppy helps businesses protect their employees from online harassment with safeguards, incident response and follow-up support.
If you’re being attacked via email, use email filters to redirect harassing messages to a separate folder, Glaser suggests. Specifically, you can set filters for emails that contain misogynist, homophobic, or derogatory words.
“You know what words you get the most,” she said. “If someone emails me like that, it’s not helpful.”
But you might not want to ignore abusive messages entirely, experts say. Some may include threats of physical harm or imminent danger. So how do you protect your sanity without having to read everything? Galperin suggests asking someone you trust to read through harassing messages and/or posts.
“Some are quite frightening and obsessive and could be a sign of escalating harassment,” she said. “You need someone to read all these things for you.”
Galperin also says online support groups like HeartMob can be a good resource for women experiencing online harassment. The group helps provide resources and connect victims of online abuse to a mental health support community. Therapy can also help relieve victims’ stress and emotions resulting from online abuse.