DIGITAL SAFETY For Social Networks And Ways To Deal With Cyber Abuse and Bullying 

By Ange Fonce

As part of my lifelong work against abuse in all its forms I am aware of the growing problem of Digital Abuse both on the inter net and through mobile phones.

So I have put together in this article some Safety Tips and advice on how to deal with cyber abuse and bullying to help keep you safer and document those who are abusing you.

Just because it is Cyber Abuse does not make it any less damaging psychologically and emotionally then from real world abuse the only difference being that real world abuse can also be physical.

You deserve to be in a safe and healthy relationship whether in person or online if someone you know or ex partner is digitally abusive know their behaviour is not acceptable just as in the real world and could be illegal. 

So read on for some helpful tips and guidance if you find yourself experiencing cyber abuse and cyber bullying.

Check Ins...

There are many situations where it is not only fun and practical to check in with social sites like Facebook as useful as this technology is did you ever stop to wonder... is it safe?

For someone in or getting out of an abusive relationship the answer is often no it can be dangerous if your abusive partner only has to log into your social profiles like Facebook to see where you are what you are doing and who you are with so be mindful of how to use check ins... and area locators when ever you use your social profiles... whether you are in a healthy relationship or not... if you or a friend are in an unhealthy relationship... consider the following before checking in...

Always Ask..

Always ask everyone if it is all right to check them in even if you are sure it was OK a week ago or if anyone in your group says no... consider playing is safe and not checking in at all you do not want an abusive partner figuring out who else is there based on the group you posted.

Update Your Privacy Settings...

Facebook and other social sites let you control who sees your check ins and they default to making your account public... consider adjusting your settings so only your known friends and not the general public can see your check ins when using Skype you can stay invisible and still be available and you can choose who to talk too remember though that abusive bullies may find a way around your settings.

Know Your Networks...

Just because you are not friends with the abusive person does not mean you are not friends with their friends and if you think sensitive information could be accessed by your contacts a few friends away just side with caution and do not post.

Pay Attention to Statuses and Tweets Too...

Be aware that tagging someone in a status or tweet could create problems for them too especially if you give away their location learn all you can about your social networks safety.

Wait Until After the Event...

If you are posting about a one time event that you really want to celebrate online give it a day or two until you mention it that way the abusive person is less likely to use the information against you and your friends.

Social Networking Safety...

Only post things you want the public to see or know as once it is online it is no longer under your control.

Be protective of your personal information... your phone numbers and addresses enable people to contact you directly and things like your birth date... the schools you attended... your employer and photos with landmarks may make it easier for someone to find where you live... hang out or go to school.
Set Boundaries And Limits... 

Tell people not to post personal information or negative comments or check ins about you on social media and ask people not to post or tag pictures if you are not comfortable with it.

Pass Word Safety...

You can keep your passwords private as sharing passwords is not a requirement of being in any kind of relationship.

Be SAFE In What You Share...

Do not do or say anything online you would not say in person as it may seem easier to express yourself when you are not face to face and online communication can have real life negative consequences.

Being Abuse Or Harassed...

Do not respond to harassing or abusive or inappropriate comments it will not make the person stop if anything it will make them do it more because they know they can get you to react and it could get you in trouble or even put you in danger keep a record of all harassing messages and posts and comments in case you decide to tell the police or get a restraining order and always report inappropriate behaviour to the site administrators.

Leaving An Abusive Relationship

If you are leaving an unhealthy relationship start by blocking your ex on Facebook and other social networking pages and I recommend you do not check in on Foursquare or other location based sites or apps you do not want your ex or their friends tracking your movements... so adjust your privacy settings to reduce the amount of information that particular people can see on your page privacy settings on sites like Facebook allow the user to control how their information is shared and who has access to it.

Remember also registering for some apps require you to change your privacy settings and they also have location tracking your Wi Fi settings on your mobile can be tracked when switched on.

Avoid posting private details on your friends pages they may not have appropriate settings and doing so may allow someone to see your movements and location the same goes for tagging yourself in pictures.

Consider what is called a super logoff deactivating your Facebook account every time you log off and reactivating it every time you log back on... this way no one can post on your wall tag you or see your content when you are offline and you still have all of your friends... wall posts... photos... etc... when you log back on.

While it is inconvenient and may seem extreme disabling you social networking page entirely may be your best option to stop continued abuse or harassment.

Your Friends Safety...

If your friend is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship be careful what you post about them... pictures... locations... check ins... even simple statements can be used to control or hurt them and if you are unsure of what is okay to post get your friends permission before you click share.

Documenting Abuse...

The warning signs of violence are not always dramatic and when you keep track of incidents of abuse you can better identify red flags and take steps to prevent future abuse and be prepared if you ever do decide to seek legal remedies and detailed documentation is important especially if the incident took place in a private setting or was repeated in a distinct pattern.

Ways to Document Abuse Digital Abuse...

In abusive relationships threats and controlling behaviour often occur by phone or over the internet and maybe on occasion your partner will even admit to the abuse or an element of it in a message or on line post and you may be hesitant to report this type of unwanted contact or even recognize it as abuse and it counts in a court of law.

The Number One Rule for dealing with this type of behaviour is do not react or respond and do not interact and do not engage. 

This is not as easy to do as it sounds and it is a natural response to want to defend yourself and to put the person right yet never argue with a serial bully it is not a mature adult discussion and more like dealing with a child or immature teenager whilst the serial bully may be an adult on the outside on the inside they are like a child who has never grown up and probably never will unless they get professional help as serial bullies and harassers often have disordered thinking patterns and do not share the same thoughts or values as you.

The Second Rule... is to keep all abusive emails and messages as digital evidence is often fleeting and can be deleted accidentally or intentionally very easily so for this reason it is important to secure evidence quickly and print out all emails that contain any evidence or information about the incident so make sure the printout includes the sender... recipient... date and time.

If possible print out text messages and if not take a picture of the cell phone displaying the message contact information date and time.

If possible print out your call log and if not take a picture of the cell phone displaying the contact information... date and time.

Print screen shots of social networking sites that contain evidence such as admissions of abuse and threats of violence or pictures that you did not consent to... remember to check both your own and your abusers site.

Record voice mails onto a digital recorder and include the time and date of the message.

Try to save all future abusive electronic communications using these same methods.

Create a new folder perhaps called Abuse and move hate mail and flame mail into this folder you do not have to read it and when the time comes to take action because this folder of hate mail and flame mail is your evidence... bullies...especially cyber bullies are obsessive people and if their account is closed down you may start receiving mail from another address... this can later be compared to the abusive emails you have already received to identify the perpetrator as you will find the same words... phrases and strategies occurring.

The Third Rule... is to understand bullying to understand the profile of the person who is abusing... bullying and to recognise that you are not dealing with a person who has the same mindset as yourself... bullying and especially cyber bullying has links with stalking.

Rule Four... is get help and if you are a young person this is essential as even mature experienced adults often cannot handle bullying and harassment by themselves because sometimes you are dealing with a severely disordered and dangerous individual.

Rule Five... is become alert to provocation as it could be called The Baiting Game such as a provocative comment is made and those who respond spontaneously in irritation a non assertively reply are then encouraged to engage in conflict with those who respond without irritation in an assertive way the provoker watches... waits and stirs the pot with the occasional additional provocation... what interests me is the sense of gratification that a provoker gains from watching others indulge in destructive interaction initiated by him or herself in this context gratification is a perverse form of satisfaction akin to and distinct from pleasure.

The Sixth Rule is become an observer... although you may be the target of the cyber bully anger you can train yourself to act as an observer this takes you out of the firing line and enables you to study the perpetrator and collect evidence... when people use abusive and bullying behaviours they project their own weaknesses... failings and shortcomings onto others in other words they are telling you about themselves by fabricating an accusation based on something they themselves have done wrong so whenever you receive a flame mail or hate mail train yourself to instinctively ask the question... 

"What is this person revealing about themselves this time?"

The Seventh Rule... is decide if you want to take action and if so prepare carefully and strike hard... sometimes refusing to respond and engage will result in the cyber bully losing interest and going off to find someone easier to torment... sometimes though especially if there has been interaction in the past... the cyber bully is so obsessed that he or she cannot and will not let go you will have to make that person let go and only through swift hard legal action and only when the time is right so do not deal with the abuser yourself as this encourages bullies and stalkers and use a third party such as a solicitor or inform the police.

Finally a reminder... never try to "mediate... negotiate... conciliate" or otherwise deal with a bully or stalker yourself always remember Rule 1... 

Do not respond do not interact and do not engage.

What If The Abuse Turns Real World?

Keep a journal about what you are going through and include...

Any incidents of abuse.

Statements you... your partner or any witnesses made about what happened.

The date and time of each incident.

A description of any injuries no matter how small and take pictures if you can store them safely.

A description of the scene... for example is the furniture overturned? 

Are any items thrown around? 

Again take pictures if you can.

How the incident made you feel.

Seek medical care even if there are no visible injuries just because you do not have any cuts or bruises does not mean you were not physically harmed.

File a report with the police.

If you are suffering any form of abuse be it cyber space or real world and you would like help and support.

Then PLEASE do Contact me.

You do not have to suffer abuse or bullying alone.

Have you any thoughts or comments you would like to share with me on what I have written?

I would love to hear from you.

Thank you and may you enjoy a Loving... Prosperous and Dynamic day!

Yours Sincerely

 Ange Fonce

1... A person with a penchant for Science... creativity... books... writing... communication... fitness... women... sexing... sexuality... human relationships... psychology... physiology and any other area involving heavy use of the Intellect.

2... A bright person and glamorously Intelligent!

3... Ange is an Author... Speaker and Dynamic Peak Performance Personal Development Coach and Psychosexual Therapist who works with those men and women who desire to personally develop themselves and their relationships to become creators of their own life... relationships and wealth! 

4... As ever always leave a man or a woman all the better for knowing you. 

To Speak to Ange and arrange a consultation for what you would like help with CLICK HERE

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