Staggering Online Harassment Statistics—How to Protect Yourself in the Virtual World?

Everyone is online—people of all ages, vocations, personal interests. But how many of these people have had some unpleasant experience on the Internet? Quite a few, according to recent findings. Be it cyberstalking, sexual harassment, or some other form of abuse, people all around the country and worldwide are facing security problems every day. 

Not only does online harassment of any kind make you uncomfortable when it happens, but it can leave long-lasting harmful consequences on your health, too. According to the Pew Research Center, cyber harassment can result in mental and emotional stress, as well as fear for one’s safety.

What Do Online Harassment Statistics Show?

With Internet usage growth, the problem of online security has become more prominent. Online harassment statistics show that more and more people report some form of abuse on social media platforms and other online venues. Here are the most staggering figures that prove how big a problem online harassment is:

  1. According to Statista, in January 2020, 44% of Internet users experienced some form of online harassment, with 28% reporting severe abuse (physical threats, stalking, sexual harassment, etc.)
  2. Another Statista report shows that 77% of the victims were harassed on Facebook, while Twitter ranked second with 27% of the victims reporting abuse on this platform
  3. According to The Pew Research study,  27% of Americans don’t want to post something online because they fear being harassed, while 13% of them even stopped using an online service for the same reason

Online Harassment Statistics—Adults

Even though they are more aware of security problems online than their children, many adults still become victims of cyber harassment. Let’s see what the statistics say:

  • The Pew Research suggests that four in ten adults (41%) experienced harassing behavior online
  • The same report indicates that 18% of adults have been victims of severe abuse, including physical threats and sexual harassment
  • The Pew Research report also shows that 66% of adults have witnessed harassing behavior online 

Online Harassment Statistics—Minors and Teenagers

Considering that 95% of teens in the U.S. are online, it comes as no surprise that they are often the ones being harassed in the virtual world. Here’s what the figures say:

  • According to Ipsos, one in four parents reported that their child had been cyberbullied 
  • About 37% of young Internet users have been bullied online (between the ages of 12 and 17) 
  • Statista findings suggest that 52% of teenagers state that they often or sometimes come across racist hate speech on social media platforms, while 12% of teens say that they frequently encounter this form of harassment 
  • The same report shows that 52% of teenagers often or sometimes encounter sexist abuse, while 14% of them say that this form of harassment is frequent on social media. 

What Counts as Online Harassment?

To be able to identify online harassment, you need to learn what it means when someone is harassing you. Some small signs of abuse might be tricky to spot, but it’s vital that you do if you want to avoid further complications. Here are the most common 

  • Harassment involving sexism
  • Harassment involving racism
  • Making direct personal threats
  • Stalking
  • Pornography
  • Impersonation
  • Hate speech 

What Doesn’t Count as Online Harassment?

You should be on alert for even the smallest signs that hint at abuse, but you also need to know what doesn’t constitute online harassment. Someone’s behavior might be annoying, but no matter how much it bothers you, it won’t necessarily count as harassment. 

There are two crucial questions to answer to determine whether you’re dealing with a harasser: is the person in question hurting you intentionally? Did it happen just once or repeatedly? If the answer to both of these is affirmative, you need to take action against the abuser.

How to Protect Yourself From Online Harassment?

To avoid becoming the next victim of online harassment (or going through this frustrating experience again), keep in mind the following suggestions on how to deal with an abuser:

Dos 

Don’ts 

Take advantage of all available tools to block the abuser. All social media platforms offer an option to block anyone you want, so use it. Should the perpetrator continue to harass you by making harassing phone calls, you should install a call-blocking app.

Remember one thing—the abuser is waiting for your reaction to their harassing behavior. Don’t give them that pleasure. No matter how much it bothers you, don’t respond to the harassing content.

If blocking doesn’t work, you should report the person in question. Social media platforms have an option to report anyone who’s abused you in any way, so do not hesitate to contact social media representatives and report the abuser.

Don’t delete the abusive content before you take a screenshot or a photo of it. You will need a piece of evidence to prove that you’ve been harassed. 

Report Online Harassment to the Police

If the situation becomes alarming, and you need to take more drastic measures to protect yourself from online harassment, you should file a police report. If you decide to take this step, you should check with the local authorities what exactly the reporting process involves. In most states, you will need to:

  1. Bring at least some evidence to prove online harassment
  2. Describe your relationship with the abuser
  3. Describe the abuser’s harassing act
  4. Provide all the information you have about the harasser (name, email address, social media account details, username, phone number, etc.)

If you believe that your safety is jeopardized and that the abuser may start harassing you in person, too, make sure you file for a restraining order against that person.

How Can DoNotPay Help You Fight Online Harassment?

Fox details how DoNotPay makes it easier to fight companies by suing them in small claims court

Have you tried everything to put an end to online harassment, but nothing works? Not even the police can protect you from the cyber abuser? There’s no need to panic—DoNotPay has got you covered. We have designed a simple and efficient solution to help our users stop online abuse as soon as possible. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Log in to your DoNotPay account via the web browser or your iOS app
  2. Go to the Relationship Protection section
  3. Choose Safety and Stalking
  4. Type in the name of the abuser (if applicable)
  5. Rely on DoNotPay to get through to the social media representatives and report the abuser. We will ask for their account and activity to be investigated. DoNotPay can also tell the representatives to block the person in question so that they can’t contact you again

What Else Can DoNotPay Do to Help You?

You don’t know how to stop a stalker? Whether you have a problem with stalkers online or in the real world, DoNotPay can help you. If you don’t know how to stop some other form of harassment, we’ve got you covered there, too. 

And that’s not all—you can use our app when you find yourself in other problematic situations, from suing companies in small claims court to disputing traffic tickets. You need to log in to your account on DoNotPay via the web browser or your iOS app, and then pick the service that meets your needs: