What is online abuse?

Online abuse covers a wide range of behaviours and technologies. Abuse happens when someone acts in a way that causes harm and distress to others. It is often obvious that someone is behaving in an abusive way but it’s not always clear where the boundary falls between expressing a point of view and being abusive.


This website gives you more information so you can identify abusive behaviour online and do something about it. 


People have the right to expect the same standards of behaviour online as those expected in face-to-face interactions. If something is illegal, unfair or unacceptable face-to-face, then it doesn’t make it acceptable to behave that way online.

You do not have to accept or put up with abuse.


You can stop it:

Report, Complain, Campaign!

What is harassment and abuse?

How are people abusive online?

Domestic violence


Revenge porn


Isn’t it just free speech?

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The word ‘online’ means any sort of communication via electronic technology. These electronic devices could be mobile phones (for example via calls, texts, applications or GPS facilities), PC/laptops, tablets, or any device that connects to the internet (for example a TV or gaming device). It includes all the ways in which people communicate through these devices too, such as social networking sites, dating and gaming sites, chat rooms, discussion forums, email, apps and websites.


More definitions

Case Study


Who: Loretta was in her 50s and had three grown-up children. She had recently started the process of transitioning and was slowly exploring her identity as the woman she knew herself to be. Her confidence and well-being was improving after years of silence and struggle about her gender identity.


The case: Loretta set up profiles on a number of trans-specific sites, including dating sites, defining her sexual orientation as bisexual. She became friendly with a heterosexual man on a dating site and, over a period of time, disclosed where she lived and other personal information. They began to chat over FaceTime and Skype and as time went on Loretta felt more confident to be sexual in front of the camera for him. Over time, the man became more demanding, threatening to publicise her trans identity and the photos and videos she had sent. Loretta attempted to end the contact and, at this point, a sexual video of her was posted on Facebook. Loretta was devastated by the rapid spread of the video. She stopped going out, and considered reversing her transitioning process.


Outcome: Loretta’s online friends contacted Facebook, which took down the video. The matter was passed to the police, who traced and charged the man. Trans and non-trans allies online began tweeting in Loretta’s defense and Loretta felt hugely supported by this solidarity. The online community put her in touch with a local trans community organisation and she began going to support group meetings, where she was able to develop friendships.


The posting of sexual photos or videos of adults online without the person’s consent is a crime. Contact the Revenge Porn Helpline.

Image by Michael Dresser www.fluffypinkmeringue.com

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