Hello and welcome to the newest edition of Stormbreaker’s blog. In this edition, we will discuss solutions to tackle the problems women face on the web. So if you are a female/friend of a female, who cares for her online safety, do share this blog as it will contain tips and tricks beneficial for all. So let’s buckle up and move ahead, shall we?
In all these past years since the social media booming era period of 2007 to 2009, Male presence was much larger in comparison to their counterpart. After 2010, there was a surge in some other social media platform penetration like instagram, snapchat, musically etc. which are one of the main factors due to which there was an increase in women footprint on social media. Today, the ratio of both the gender are more or less equal in terms of usage on each platforms. All thanks to the technological advancements of smartphones and other devices which has led to fill this gap.
Though it has helped in filling the gap, what the technology was not able to do, was to safeguard an individual from any harm that he could be exposed to And in such scenarios, it is always women who have face this situation. I, personally hate to admit that, we were not able to provide a place which was meant to be a place with no restrictions on expression and speech, what every women would have liked as many even today don’t have such freedom in the real world. No doubt, it is still a wonderplace in a virtual world where everyone expresses themselves today as well, but the problem is, it needs to be polished free of many bad elements present in order to achieve that utopian dream.
(1) Problem: Creepy Direct Messages and Comments.
How often have you come across messages in your dm like these?
Or Creepy comments on your posts like these be it on Facebook or instagram?
If yes, trust me you are not alone in this. 100 of millions of women worldwide receive such creepy messages in their DM’s, comment section of their posts in their whatsapp, snapchat and sometimes even in their SMS inboxes. Does it look frightening? for starters it is absolutely fine if it looks scary to you, But should you be panicking for it? Answer is NO! you should not. We will talk about the solution for this down below, So that the next time someone unknown sends you something, you know how to deal with it.
(2) Problem: Stalkers
Stalkers are someone who constantly monitor you from behind the curtains [not literally behind the curtains i mean, but i hope you got my point] without your knowledge or acknowledgement. These “Stalkers” are special breed because they come in variety. Hence when you find someone stalking you, it is always wise to talk about it to someone wise. Solutions for them too will be given below.
Types of Stalkers:
- Rejected Stalkers: These are by far the most common type of stalkers reported to official authorities or caught red handed. But it doesn’t mean they are no harm as well. They can be quite dangerous if they are not stopped from doing so. The knowledge that they possess about their victim is what makes them dangerous. Many of such stalkers are likely to have a criminal history like assault.
- Intimacy-seeking stalkers: These stalkers are usually found preying on many social media platforms like facebook, instagram, tinder etc. These people just want to have an intimate relationship with their target or their victim under their believe of “true love”. This desire of making an intimate relationship with someone (in most cases victims are female) is very strong under them. Under such strong delusional influence, The stalker can go to any measure in order to fulfill their erotomaniac desire. Such people often need psychiatric treatment.
- Incompetent stalkers: These stalker are usually not that aggressive as compared to the previous ones mentioned above. These stalkers however know the fact that, the ones they are stalking are not interested in them [most of them are politely denied for their offer by women way before this ill-mannered behaviour takes shape in their head]. Yet these stalkers continue to stalk women, in hopes that such behaviour will spark a connection between them which would lead to a relationship.
These stalkers usually lack social skills or are more like introvert in nature, who are not able to build upon lesser forms of social interactions because they find it difficult to do so. Such stalkers require not only legal sanctions along with some mental health treatment, but also need social skills training else they are likely to continue their pattern of stalking with other victims.
- Resentful stalkers: The only kind of motives these stalkers have is to frighten and distress their victim. Such stalkers often have paranoid personalities or delusional disorders. They pursue personal vendetta against a specific target, feel jealous of their victims or just do it for their own pleasure by choosing random victims. Such stalkers feel persecuted when confronted and have an attitude of righteous indignation about it.
Such stalkers are very dangerous in nature. if you have encountered or confronted such stalker recently, it is advised to take help from official authorities and other governing bodies as soon as possible.
- Predatory stalkers: [**report them immediately if you encountered any recently.]
These stalkers plainly plan for sexual assaults on their victims. They are often known to stalk victim in order to find their vulnerabilities and use it against them until they get what they want. Victims are often unaware of such danger.
These stalkers, in most cases found, suffer from paraphilias and have prior sexual offenses convictions. Such entity must be secured in a correctional or forensic institutions. Beware, they can be very violent in nature.
(3) Problem: Harassments
Many a times, there would be a scenario, where you would disagree with points made by someone or some people. But, that is not a problem, not unless the same person or the group then tries to irritate you for having a different view. Now that’s what is called harassment. Women online face harassment on many scales. Email harassments, Random harassments or targeted harassments. Targeted harassments are the ones which can be the real headache for you.
In targeted harassments, the perpetrators would often try to drag you into arguments which you are not interested in or when such arguments don’t comply with your view. This often start in personal messages or in a post or group. Then they start tagging you into such posts to continue bashing you along with other people, Commenting verbal abuses in the post of your comment boxes etc.
This harassment becomes a severe issue when the same people try to target you by using your names and gathering people to gang up online and verbally abuse you and anyone you know Or create posts in your name revealing your identity, sharing it across the like minded people who then indulge in doing the same harassment to you. This online mob culture of “spit and run” usually go unnoticed in the eye of social media moderators unless they are reported by the person being harassed. Many a times such behaviour is ignored by social media platforms as they generate views and this leads to more and more profit as people engage on their site catching the attention of advertisers.
(4) Problem: Defamation
It is one of the widespread issue, where women are defamed as a target via various different means. They are either defamed by using curse words on social media, by creating fake posts about them, or by dragging them into unwanted groups and targeting her for no reason by everyone.
Another classic case of defamation is, when the perpetrator uses the details of the target and creates a fake identity using the same details and photos on social media. Then use the same fake profile to publish unimaginable things such as morphed photos of the victims which could be sexually suggestive, sharing private details like mobile numbers and other contact details with objectionable messages like: “call me for fun/whatsapp for intimate chats,” etc in order to damage the image of the victim.
There can be intentional motives like jealousy, hatred, competition slaughter agenda or money extortion etc of these steps. Hence, Such incidents should be dealt with caution and with the help of experts, official authorities.
What does our psychologist expert say on this?
To understand this issue and to learn about how are the mindset of such troublemakers along with the ill effects on the minds of the victims, with tips to recover from such experiences we collaborated with Khushboo Shah, a mental health professional and educator who has been proactive in such topics and cases by counselling people and creating awareness. Below are the questions that we asked our expert in our conversations:
What mindset do such cyber offenders happen to keep?
From psychology point of view, even if it is cyber or not, it is the sense of control that is what matters. In this case, usually the people who commit such things online, either have a disturbed life in present or have been through disturbing things in the past like a bad childhood for example. So the mindset that they follow is either a cynical one where they can’t see others happy or they are motivated by something they will get [like money, revenge] by doing so. They themselves are a victim of bullying in the past, hence they do the same with others to prove they are stronger than others.
By doing so, what kind satisfaction do they get?
So according to the psychological studies done, the perpetrators either feel a emotion of mental satisfaction of accomplishment or have a feeling of pleasure, by doing such cynical things of ruining others life. By targeting their victims, They gain a feeling of control of something as these people feel a lack of control on other aspects of their life. Hence, here they try to exploit that power because of the knowledge they possess about victims vulnerability.
What kind of life events make these bullies into what they are today?
What happens is, they themselves are struggling. so they see this as a way to coping out of their problems. By creating problems in others life, they feel there is something which is working according to their will in their life. apart from these factors, other events like bad childhood experiences, poor social skills, competitiveness, poor self-confidence, introvert behaviour could also be a catalyst into shaping their behaviour which is seen today. Apart from these factors, low esteem issues, rejection, unhealthy relationship pattern, lack of attachment, lack of affection and love also play a part which they cover by troubling others as they don’t really have to face someone like in the real world.
What care can we take of ourselves to avoid any negative impact to our mindset?
- We always have to keep in mind it is not your fault someone is targeting you. It is not because you are wrong, someone made you their victim,No, It could have been some other person but by a flip of luck you were targeted.
- You don’t have to put this event as your personal failure or as a personal guilt. It happens, just forget about it and move on.
- Life is beautiful. So leave your digital accounts for sometime, switch your devices off for some days and enjoy the real world. Staying away from technology for a few days could help you regain that lost confidence, reduce your stress and fix that sad thoughts of yours after such incidence.
- If staying away from technology and social media is not possible for you then it’s time for some strict rules to follow.
- reduce your time you usually spend on social media.
- If you still feel like someone is targeting you in comments or posts then just ignore it. If there are hate/foul/abusive comments for you written by someone, just ignore them. no need to read such messages as well.
- You don’t have to reply everyone. It’s your choice whom you want to reply.
- Similarly, you don’t need to take everything said to you personally. Everyone can have views that differ than yours and if their view is wrong, let them live it. You don’t need to clarify yourself.
- Focus on the positives and ignore the negatives. There is positivity everywhere you just need to search for the right ones. Don’t fall for the negatives.
What to do if you are a victim of a mass cyberbullying online due to your differences in views, ideologies, choices ?
Nowadays, social media has become a battlefield of supporters of different ideologies, choices and views as it is an open platform meant to promote freedom of speech. But it has been seen, that social media platforms have been used to peddle hate speech, hatred against certain gender, caste, race etc all around the globe. To top it up, Many people who support such radical views are stern supporters of the group or an individual who is leading these topics and would bash anyone or people online who don’t agree with their idea.
Such people have one sided views and are extreme in terms of supporting their choices. These people don’t take no for an answer hence it is wise that you stay away from such people and groups. Though, social media is an open platform and everyone has the right to post what they want, It is not benefitting for you to drag yourself into such mess.
If you are victim of such incident, it is always recommended to talk it out with your family first. If your family is not in touch, then contact your colleagues or friends and talk about your problems. It is very essential to take this step else, keeping everything within your mind would later cause many different kinds of mental issues and other health issues which are not worth it. After talking with all the close ones, it would be wise to report such person/group online on the platform along with reporting to the official authorities like cyber crime cell nearby you.
What would you like to add in the closing note?
If there are such kind of events that has happened in your life, it is not worth to remember it. Such memories would always affect your life and everyone around you, unless you forget about it. just move on. You should not blame yourself for something like this, else you will lose your self confidence, your self esteem and later on if you keep continuing to blame yourself, it can result in failures in tasks you do or would negatively portray in your job affecting the life that depends on you.
Always remember, Incidents like these can happen to anyone. It happened to you today, the same might happen to someone else later on. You should take it as an learning event and moving on. Stay in touch with your support system and talk about your issues out whenever you need to.
What Steps you take to safeguard yourself from such elements? Also what to do if you are a victim yourself?
Trust us when we say, you are not alone as these kind of instances always happen around the world. There are bad elements present everywhere, but you should also notice that not everyone is bad. Other than that lets focus on the things you can do:
Steps to safeguard yourself from cyberbullies, stalkers,harassers:
- Limit your social account posts visibility to friends of friends only. This helps in hiding your posts from those who are unknown in our circle.
- Try to lock your profile so that outsiders, especially those who might be trying to pry into your account to steal your data, profile photos etc in order to harass/defame/steal your identity can be stopped from moving further.
- Look behind the motives of a profile who might be behaving like a stalker. Always be vigilant.
- Try to respond in a gradual manner. Politely deny to indulge in any activity with them if they encounter you via messages in dm or comments.
- Be strict if they still don’t agree with you. Try to reply short or if you have done this before then don’t reply at all.
- If they still deny accepting your hints or your rejection of proposals, block them.
- Tell your friends about it. Let them know what’s going on especially if you and the stalker or harasser share a mutual friend.
- Only add those people to your followers or friends list who are known to you. Many a times people who are in our list try to commit such crime against you. So always stay alert.
- Try not to tag your accounts with locations. As this makes things easier for the culprits to find and target you by other means.
- Never respond to messages sent by unknown accounts. If you receive messages from any unknown accounts it’s better to avoid it. If you still receive messages even after avoiding its better to block them.
- Verify the account before replying or adding it to your friend or followers list. Many a time such accounts are fake and created by hackers using identity theft on some other profile.
- Enable 2-factor authentication (or multi-factor authentication) on your email, social, banking and any other accounts in order to stop any culprits from breaking into your account.
- Limit access to apps which you connect to your social accounts[for ex games that you use or connect to facebook]. Only allow trusted applications to access your profile information.
- Never share your personal details or any other valuable personal information on social media. This is considered a very bad practise as such information can make you an easy target to be chosen out of the pool.
- Talk with your family, friends or colleagues about it. spread the awareness so that others stay safe as well.
If you or someone you know are a victim then follow these steps:
- Report the profile if he/she are abusing their right to speech on the platform by targeting you.
- Talk with your family, friends or colleagues about it. Spread the awareness so that others stay safe as well.
- Tell your friends about it. Let them know what’s going on especially if you and the stalker or harasser share a mutual friend.
- Contact a cyber expert in these regards and inform the expert about the same. They might be able to guide you for all the legal options you can take to curb this issue out.
- Take evidences which are available to you at your disposal. for ex, Take screenshots of the conversation, save the messages on the platform (if possible) for further investigation.
- If you have call recordings of harassments with the culprit, it’s better to extract and save it on a thumb drive for investigation. Also note the number down so that the authorities can find some lead.
- Note down the profile link to the perpetrator’s profile/group which was used to target you. This might help the official authorities take strict actions by tracking down the actual operator of the account.
- If any transactions have been made, call your bank immediately and provide a light on what happened with you so that the bank can take necessary steps from their side.
- If you were scammed by the fake account of someone you know it’s better to inform the person whose account’s identity was used to contact you so that you can break the chain of the perpetrator if he/she has any intention to target anyone else with the same profile.
- Save all the evidences that you collected as mentioned above in a folder so that the official authorities can access everything at a single place. make multiple copies of the same folder, keep one on your smartphone, one on a pendrive, one on your computer/laptop and if possible save one copy of the folder in your cloud account so that you can access them anytime from anywhere.
- Visit to the nearest police station to your house and lodge a complaint about the incident that has happened to you. Provide them with all the details that you have along with the folder of evidence that you made. Also take the FIR copy from the police station and keep those documents safe.
- After the visit to the police station, it would also be better to register your complaint online on Cyber Crime portal or contact on number 155260 between 9am to 6pm [for India] or any cyber crime portal equivalent to the mentioned above in your country or region. Provide all the details that you have, and also upload the documents that you got from the Police station.
- Spread awareness regarding the same so that no one else you know gets under such situation and face what you had to.
We at Stormbreaker would like to Specially thank to Khushboo Shah who was our psychological expert for this article. She enlightened us with all the facts and knowledge about the topics we approached for and also gave us tips about mental health and safety. Follow her page to be aware of all about mental wellness and if needed you can contact her for professional counselling.