Women’s Aid has published a new report, Virtual world, real fear: Women’s Aid report into online abuse, harassment and stalking.
In September 2013 Women’s Aid hosted a conference to discuss the impact of online stalking and harassment on women – thank you to all members who attended and contributed to the conference.
The conference aimed to demonstrate the intrinsic link between online abuse, harassment and stalking, and domestic violence as part of a pattern of behaviours by perpetrators. The conference also explored the fear that online abuse, harassment and stalking created and the impact it had on women.
This report draws out the key themes from the conference and makes recommendations for Government, social media providers and criminal justice agencies.
Key messages from the report:
The violence women experience from online abuse, stalking and harassment is completely unacceptable;
The impact that this online abuse has on women’s lives has been underestimated by all statutory services. It is vital that online abuse, harassment and stalking is seen and dealt with as part of the spectrum of domestic violence;
Women’s Aid believes that the responses that women victims of online abuse, harassment and stalking receive from the police, criminal justice system and social media providers are currently inadequate.
The update of the Government Action Plan on VAWG should emphasise that online abuse is a key part of violence against women, and state that what is a crime offline is a crime online.
Social media providers should ensure that any perpetrator of online abuse, harassment and stalking of women through their platforms is curtailed as soon as possible. This should be done through the development of online abuse, stalking and harassment policies and protocols, and creating easier reporting and blocking mechanisms to safeguard victims of abuse.
Guidance and training for all professionals engaged in VAWG cases in criminal justice agencies including the police and the Crown Prosecution Service on the nature and impact of online abuse, harassment and stalking and the need to recognise it as part of the spectrum of domestic violence perpetrated against women by men.
Women’s Aid Federation of England
PO Box 391, Bristol, BS99 7WS
© Women’s Aid 2014