If you find yourself the target of harassment, it’s easy to panic. But experts advise victims to remember that they have ways to fight back. And a big part of that includes measures to protect you from mental harm from online abuse.
“Feeling like you have a certain agency can be really empowering,” Chou said. “You can assert your power where you have it.”
Take advantage of all the tools offered by social media services. Mute, block, or filter users and chats that attack you. Use reporting tools to report abusive comments or posts to businesses.
Third-party apps and services can also help. Chou’s Block Party allows users to choose which groups of people they want to receive notifications from; notifications from all other users go into a separate folder for later review. And Tall Poppy helps businesses protect their employees from online harassment with safeguards, incident response, and follow-up support.
If you’re attacked by email, use email filters to redirect harassing messages to a separate folder, suggests Glaser. Specifically, you can set filters for emails containing misogynistic, homophobic, or derogatory words.
“You know what words you get the most,” she said. “If someone sends me an email like that, it’s not going to be helpful.”
But you may not want to completely ignore abusive messages, experts say. Some may include threats of physical harm or imminent danger. So how do you protect your sanity without having to read everything? Galperin suggests asking someone you trust to read harassing posts and/or messages.
“Some are quite terrifying and obsessive and may be a sign of escalating harassment,” she said. “You need someone to read all this stuff for you.”
Galperin also says online support groups like HeartMob can be a good resource for women experiencing online harassment. The group helps provide resources and connects victims of online abuse to a community for mental health support. Therapy can also help alleviate victims’ stress and emotions resulting from online abuse.