Author: Stéphanie Deslauriers, psychoeducator
Cyber harassment and cyberbullying are what we referred to above as virtual violence. They include belittling, humiliating or trying to stigmatize and isolate a person by using technology do so. It can also consist of inciting hate, disclosing confidential information or stealing someone’s identity.
This type of abuse can leave deep psychological scars. In fact, victims of such abuse exhibit lower self-esteem, an increased level of anxiety, greater distrust in interpersonal relationships and a greater likelihood of developing symptoms of depression. The effects are very real, even though the violence is virtual. This type of abuse leaves marks and can have an impact on a person’s future professional and personal life for a very long time, for example, if a potential employer conducts an internet search on an applicant.
Are You a Cyberbully?
How do you know if you are one? If you are: why are you acting this way? What need(s) are you trying to meet? Do you need to get attention, be respected, make friends, have control or power or make people laugh?
What should you do if a friend, family member or you yourself experiences cyberbullying or cyber abuse?
If ever you experience harassment or cyber abuse, here are the actions you can take to help yourself:
- Leave the environment where the harassment is taking place and inform an adult you can trust about the situation you experienced;
- Block messages from the harassing person and never reply to them;
- Save the messages of harassment and give them to your internet or cell phone service providers;
- Intervene if you witness your friends being harassed;
- Alert the police if the bullying consists of physical threats;
- Talk about it to a health professional such as a family doctor or a psychologist.
Source: Sécurité publique du QuébecResources to help you
Adopting healthy behaviours will allow you to have more positive relationships in your life, to be prouder of yourself, to feel better about yourself and to feel less and less the need to step out of your boundaries to feel good.