Online harassment is not just troublesome, it’s something that can contribute to a decline in your quality of life and in some unfortunate instances, it can lead to more severe consequences. Sadly, not many people know what to do when they are being harassed online, so today we’re going to take a look at some of the options that are available to you.
Online Harassment: What to Do When You’re Being Harassed Online
Know When it’s Harassment
Firstly, it’s important to understand what is considered to be “harassment”. How the law defines harassment and how we see harassment when we are being harassed isn’t always the same thing. In the eyes of the law, criminal harassment is defined differently depending on whether you are judging by federal or state definitions and to make it more complicated, the different states have their own definitions too.
Threats of Violence
In many instances, criminal harassment is harassment that involves threats of violence that are made specifically against you. Criminal harassment may also refer to online stalking that has offline components to it.
Harassment by Advertisement
Another form of harassment is harassment by advertising, for example, the harasser may post an advertisement encouraging people to go to the house of the individual being harassed to intimidate them.
Harassment by Family, Partners or Previous Partners
Much like domestic violence, many people mistakenly believe that if harassment is committed by family, partners, or previous partners, that it “doesn’t count”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Harassment is harassment regardless of who is behind it.
Other Forms of Harassment
There is a range of other forms of harassment that don’t fall into the categories above, for example:
- Having your private intimate photos or videos shared online by someone who does not have your permission to share those items.
- Having voyeuristic photographs or videos taken of you and shared online by someone who did not have permission to take those photos or videos or to share them.
- Harassment by impersonation.
- Harassment by encouraging public mischief.
Confused About What Harassment Is?
If you are confused about what constitutes harassment, the Federal government has created a website dedicated to stopping cyberbullying where they provide more detail.
The first step to take if you are being harassed online is to report it. You can report serious harassment to your local police department or in some instances, it may be easier to report through the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Keep Accurate Records
When you are being harassed in any form, it’s crucial that you keep accurate and detailed records to notate the harassment for reference. The best way to do this is to take screenshots, save e-mails, take video clips of statements on your phone…anything you can do to get an accurate picture to evidence the harassment without violating the law can help your case if you do pursue it further through the local police or through an attorney.
When You Don’t Want to “Go to the Extreme”
Before you choose to consult an attorney, talk to local police, or take decisive action, you may find that simple steps like blocking the individual doing the harassing, not answering the phone when they call or talking to a child’s parents, may be effective in curbing harassment.
Report Harassment to the Website Where You Are Being Harassed
If more subtle measures aren’t helpful in curbing harassment, you can also contact the website where the harassing messages are being posted or sent. Many e-mail, chat, message board, and other user-based websites have specific rules in regard to what type of content is and is not permitted on their site and if the harassing content goes against those rules, the website may take down the offending comments as well as block the account of the offender.
Keep in mind, though, not all websites are willing to remove content without legal notice to do so, in this instance, it’s important to consult an attorney who specializes in online harassment.
Consulting an Attorney
Another option available to you if you are being harassed or if you believe that someone was being harassed and it led to devastating consequences, is to consult an attorney. Located in St. Petersburg, Florida, Weidner Law is one of the more prominent attornies who tackle cases of online harassment.
By consulting an attorney, you can not only find out exactly how your harasser is breaking the law, but how you can legally go about stopping them in their tracks and holding them responsible for their actions.
Don’t Be Afraid!
Often when seeking help from an attorney, people who are being harassed fail to seek help until things are at a seriously dangerous point. When asked why they waited so long, these people cite embarrassment and shame as the reason behind their reluctance to report harassing activity. It’s important to know that the shame and embarrassment are on the shoulders of those who are committing the harassment and by stepping forward to stop your harassers, you may be saving your own life as well as the lives of others who may later become a target.
Tired of Online Harassment?
If you’re tired of online harassment and you’re ready to pursue the offending party through a court of law? If so, Weidner Law can help. Located in St. Petersburg, Florida, Weidner Law has close to twenty years experience in practicing consumer law and advocating for those who need it most. If you’re interested in having Weidner Law represent you in your online harassment case, pick up the phone and call 727-954-8752 today to see how we can help!