Cybersexual violence

What is it?

There is no universally-accepted definition of cybersexual violence. However, it can be described as using social media and communication technologies for the following:

  • Sexual comments or advances
  • Attempts to obtain a sexual act
  • Unwanted sexual acts
  • Sexual coercion

It can also be spreading rumours online, sending damaging messages, photos or videos, impersonation and much more. All these behaviours aim to damage a person’s feelings, self-esteem, reputation and mental health.

Cybersexual violence and cyberbullying: what’s the difference?

Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that takes place in a virtual space and is at times of a sexual nature. Cybersexual violence, on the other hand, primarily targets girls and women in a sexual manner. It’s tied, among other things, to sexism and misogyny.

Nevertheless, the two behaviours have common features:

  • Accessibility and relentlessness

The attacks may be experienced at any hour of any day in typically “safe” locations such as home.

  • Anonymity

Perpetrators can use deception or anonymity to undertake their activities.

  • Audience

The online realm has a potentially huge audience.

  • Loss of inhibitions

Perpetrators feel less empathy and find it easier to be cruel when they cannot see or be seen by their target.

Forms of cybersexual violence

Cybersexual violence can take many forms.

The following are just a few examples:

  • Cyber-harassment and cyber-stalking: monitoring or disruption online communications, making threats, stealing personal information or spreading false accusations
  • Distributing sexual recordings, images or messages without consent in order to harass or shame the targeted individual
  • Luring and online exploitation of minors by adults who establish contact with children over the Internet for the purpose of committing a sexual offence
  • Online sexual assault: constant threats of sexual assault
  • Sextorsion: “sexual blackmail” in which a person is threatened with the electronic distribution of sexual images or information

Did you know?

Tools and resources

Please note that the feminine is used throughout this website, but it does not exclude any person who has been a victim of sexual violence.

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