April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Violence Intervention Project (VIP) is joining with other organizations across the nation to increase awareness and prevent sexual and domestic violence.
On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States, that’s more than 12 million women and men over a year. One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old. The 2016 MN Department of Health Student Survey indicates that sexual violence is happening in our communities as well.
Sexual harassment, assault, and abuse can happen anywhere, including in online spaces. For too long harassment, cyberbullying, and sexual abuse and exploitation have come to be expected as typical and unavoidable behaviors online.
Building Safe Online Spaces Together is possible when we practice digital consent, intervene when we see harmful content and behaviors, and promote online communities that value respect, inclusion, and safety.
Online Sexual Harrassment
Online sexual abuse can be any type of sexual harassment, exploitation, or abuse that takes place through screens. Learn the facts here.
Understanding Online Sexual Harrassment
Online harassment is no less harmful because it happens online. Virtual harassment can leave lasting harm, as the content is often public, unerasable, and just as emotionally damaging as in-person harassment.
Online harassment and bullying are extremely common. Forty-one percent of Americans have been personally subjected to harassing behavior online, and an even larger share (66%) have witnessed these behaviors directed at others.
People from historically oppressed groups are more likely to be harassed online, and that harassment is likely to be more severe. Online harassment mirrors the inequalities we see elsewhere in society, often including racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist, or other hate speech based on aspects of someone’s identity.
Victims of online harassment often have little recourse. Due to the anonymity of the internet, many victims have no idea who is behind the harassment and have few avenues to make it stop even if they do know the person causing harm.
“Just log off” isn’t always an effective solution. Pushing the victim to no longer participate in online spaces to avoid being harassed is victim-blaming. Rather than expecting victims to change their behavior and limit their online presence, we must address the root causes of online harassment by taking the issue seriously and holding people who commit online harassment accountable. Many people rely on virtual spaces to stay connected with loved ones and have social interactions. Access to online spaces can be a healing resource for those who have experienced harassment.
Follow our social media campaign and learn how you can spread the message of consent to support survivors, stand up to victim blaming, shut down rape jokes, correct harmful misconceptions, promote everyday consent, and practice healthy communication with children.