The advent of the Internet and the digital age has brought about many changes in the world. Some of them are positive, such as access to people, information and educational facilities but there is a dark side to this. Cyberspace is a perfect base for criminal activity, aggression and discrimination. The Internet has revived a “rape culture” that standardizes sexual assault and minimizes its impact on victims.
Various forms of cyberbullying, in particular cyberbullying or cyberbullying, are possible due to the actual or perceived distance between people in the cyberspace. This allows potentially aggressive people to distance themselves from their victims and become insensitive to bullying by others.
There are various forms of sexual harassment online and we need to respond with an understanding of what it means to be harassed, to educate ourselves and our loved ones about the dangers of sexual harassment online and to learn about our rights and how to behave with this problem.
Sexual harassment in online or cyberspace involves a series of unwanted, undesirable or unauthorized acts of a sexual nature that are addressed to or talked about by a person on digital communication channels.
This is an abominable form of bullying because the attacker does not have to be close to the victim to hurt him. Therefore, it is difficult to detect and intervene against it. The most worrying aspect of cyberbullying is that the victim may feel helpless in the face of it. Although the usual targets are women, other victims across the gender spectrum and children may experience harassment. Just as aggressors can be individuals from all walks of life, so can victims. Online sexual harassment may overlap with hate crimes and discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, race, special needs, disabilities, and more.
Cyber-sexual harassment can be a strong gender feature and is rooted in inequalities traditionally prevalent between men and women. However, one of the biggest myths is that only women are victims of such violence: men can be harassed too.
According to the Statista survey on sexual harassment on the internet in 2020, 12% of adults over the age of 18 have experienced sexual harassment on the internet.
If we add the LGBT environment to the equation, we see that the problem is much more serious. The 2013 GLSEN study “Out Online: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth Experiences on the Internet” reported that 32% of young LGBT respondents had experienced sexual harassment online in the previous year. An survey yielded even more dramatic results: 50% of respondents in all categories of the sexual and sexual orientation spectrum said they had experienced sexual harassment online.
Sexual harassment online more often involves children. It seems that minors are especially vulnerable to online sexual predators.
Children are often unaware that they are the target of such aggression and that they are going through a cycle of emotional and psychological abuse.
There are various tactics involved in sexual harassment of minors online. Some of them:
Pity/Guilt – a manipulative strategy used by predators to make the victim feel guilty and obey the predator’s will
Seduction – gaining the victim’s trust, showering them with compliments, affection, gifts, etc.
Make her think they’re romantically involved with a predator
Blackmail – Threats to harm the victim if she doesn’t do what the predator asks
Because online sexual harassment happens in all age groups, children often experience it from their peers. A 2015 study by a Michigan State University expert showed that one in four children between the ages of 12 and 16 had been sexually assaulted online by their friends.
Children are often unaware of legally and ethically questionable behavior and how it may affect them and their peers. Parents should educate their children about the risk factors associated with online activity and what types of behavior are legally permissible.
Online sexual harassment covers a variety of behaviours. Depending on how the victim is targeted, they can be roughly divided into:
Direct sexual harassment online – sending inappropriate sexual content to the victim
Indirect sexual harassment on the Internet – sharing or publishing sexual content on the topic of victims on or via digital and social platforms
Recording and sharing sexual videos or pictures of victims without their consent – ascending or crawling pictures
Recording sexual videos or pictures with the victim’s consent, but sharing them without consent – revenge porn
Recording – consensual sexual acts (rape) and (or) content sharing
Bullying based on actual or perceived gender or sexual orientation
Sharing a person’s personal information without their consent to encourage sexual bullying online. Use of offensive language, insulting or discriminatory and insulting online
Imitating someone and sharing sexual content online to harm their reputation or sexual harassment others
“Revealing” someone else’s gender identity or sexual orientation online without your consent spreading lies, rumors or gossip about life
Sexual comments in the victim’s posts on social media
Requests or requests for sexual services online
Sexual jokes online
Submitting content (graphics) to a person without their consent, pictures, videos, pictures, videos and videos: or video to make it sexual
Evaluating peers or members of a social platform for sexual activity or attraction
Pressing someone to share sexual content about themselves or engage in sexual activity online, offline, or both sharing
Threats of sexual assault a person
Threats of posting sexual content online to intimidate, force or otherwise blackmail people – blackmail
To entice people to participate in and exploit sexual behavior by posting content online
Encouraging others to commit sexual violence