Taking action

Online abuse is distressing but there are lots of things you can do to help make it stop and get support. Remember:


  • It is not your fault

  • No one deserves online abuse

  • You have a right to be who you are and to live without fear of violence, abuse or harassment

Use the internet’s own systems

Make sure you keep your privacy settings updated, and ensure you know how to untag yourself from pictures and comments, use the ‘block’ features, and report what’s happening to the host or server.


On Facebook -

Learn how to untag yourself

Learn how to block someone


On Twitter -

Information about removing tags and mentions.



Ask the website or application to take action to remove the abusive material and prevent the abusive user from continuing to act in that way.


Most websites will have information about how to report abusive and offensive behaviour. Here are links to some popular sites:

Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Tumblr, Ask.fm.


See the links on the right hand side of this page for more suggestions.


Ask the website about their equalities policy and if they have specific aims to protect women or LGBT people.


Find out more about keeping your online accounts secure 

Advice on safe use of social media

Reporting the abuse

The police exist to prevent and respond to crime. You don’t need to know if something is a crime before you speak to the police: if you’re worried, frightened or being harassed you can contact the police. Find your local police station using your postcode.


You can also report abuse to the police online through True Vision.  This national reporting facility has been developed so people can report hate crimes online (note: this does not include gender-based abuse, for this you need to contact the police directly). The police take hate crime very seriously and will record and investigate this offence even if you do not want to give your details. 


You can also use a ‘third party reporting agency’. These are independent organisations around the country which have an agreement with the police about helping people to report crimes. For example Victim Support offers a call back service nationally (Request a call back).


You can also get the help of a support agency or solicitor to talk to the police. See the Getting Support section.


In addition to reporting to the police, you can report abuse to the website, moderator or administrator associated with the site where abuse is happening. Each social network site has a mechanism to report abuse, below you will find the links for the most popular sites:



• Twitter®

• YouTube®

• Ask.fm®



• Pinterest®

• deviantART®

• LiveJournal®




When reporting, it can be useful to gather evidence of the abuse you are experiencing. Sometimes abuse starts in seemingly small ways, with each individual incident appearing to have a reasonable explanation. Sometimes, it is only when you look at the pattern of incidents over a period of time that a picture starts to emerge and the abusive behaviour becomes apparent. This is especially true in cases of stalking and targeted harassment.


Getting an agency to take effective action to stop this sort of abuse can be more challenging, so gathering evidence is extremely useful. Keep a diary and fill it in every time something happens. Record what the harassment is, and when and how you received it. You can also keep a screen shot (sometimes called a screen capture or screen grab) of your computer screen to record the abuse. 


How to take a screen grab

Take positive action online

There are things you can do to feel more confident and empowered online.


If you do get targeted for online abuse, remember it isn't your fault, it is never okay and no-one ever deserves to be at the receiving end of abusive behaviour.


Inform yourself. Check out the links on the resources page. There is a lot of information available to help you feel confident online.


Use the website’s full potential to protect your information.


Make sure you update all your privacy settings, untag yourself from pictures and comments, use the ‘block’ features, and report what’s happening to the host or server. 


To learn how to untag yourself:

How to un-tag yourself in posts or pictures on Facebook

Information about removing tags and mentions on Twitter.


To learn how to block someone:

How block someone on Facebook

How block someone on on Twitter.


If online abuse is linked to offline abuse - for example in a relationship - get advice and help. Check out the links on the Get Support page


Know your rights. Abuse is wrong. You don’t have to put up with it. You have the right to report it. You have the right to get help and support. 


Challenging Abuse

Regulatory bodies are organisations set up by Government with responsibility to monitor, guide and control various industry sectors in the interests of protecting consumers. Anyone can contact a regulatory body if they are concerned about abuse or derogatory media content.


Below you will find details about how to make a complaint regarding both online and offline media content.


The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is the new independent regulator for the newspaper and magazine industry in the UK. This includes online news content. 

Make a complaint to IPSO


Ofcom is the regulator for communications. This includes TV, radio, fixed line telecoms, mobiles, postal services, plus the airwaves over which wireless devices operate. 

Make a complaint to Ofcom


You may also be worried about derogatory content of adverts or music videos online. You can contact the Advertising Standards Authority and Ofcom to complain about this.


These websites offer more information and help about challenging derogatory content in the media:

Ending Violence Against Women

Trans Media Watch



Each of us can be an ally for people experiencing online abuse. Whether we read general comments that are derogatory about a group of people or see postings that threaten or abuse our friends, family members or colleagues, we can all take action to challenge abuse and discrimination.


Some of the things you can do are:

  • Report the abuse to the police

  • Report the abuse to the website concerned and demand they take action

  • Make a formal complaint to the website or other relevant organisation

  • If the person being abused is someone you know, offer them friendly support in a way that they feel is appropriate (they might prefer this to be private and/or face-to-face)

  • Make known online (in a polite but assertive way) that you disagree with abuse, but don’t fuel the abuse by giving attention to the abuser or their comments and definitely don’t be abusive in return

  • Use our online networks to lobby and create ‘counter narratives’ – comments and discussions that support equality, fairness, dignity and the right of everyone to live free from abuse and discrimination.

  • Join positive campaigns that aim to harness the good will of the majority.


As well as using the regulatory authorities, you can complain directly to the websites concerned. Click here for how to complain about content on social media (for example Twitter and Facebook).


Ask the website about their equalities policy and if they have specific aims to protect women or LGBT people.  You can find the policies of Google and Yahoo here:



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Case Study

Who: Anita Sarkeesian, founder of Feminist Frequency a not-for-profit, educational organisation. 


The Case: Anita Sarkeesian, 30, concerned at the stereotyping of girls and women by the makers of Video games decided to challenge the status quo. In 2009, she launched Feminist Frequency, a video blog that deconstructs how girls and women are discriminated against in video games and other pop-culture. 


In 2012, she launched a project that specifically targets sexism in video games. Among other topics, her videos, which attract hundreds of thousands of YouTube views, have taken on Ms. Pac Man, the 2011 movie Damsels in Distress, and the gendered way in which Lego may be marketed to girls.


Sarkeesian's ongoing "Tropes vs. Women" series sparked a ruthless backlash online.  Her Wikipedia page was hacked with degrading slurs, she was sent illustrations of her being sexually assaulted, and an online game was even created titled "Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian." 


The Outcome: Sarkeesian has received vast support from the online community. Her $6,000 Kickstarter goal for the video series was met in less than 24 hours, and went on to raise more than 25 times that much to expand the series. 

First Steps:


  • Stay calm

  • Tell someone

  • Keep a copy of everything

Be positive and take action!