When we hear the word „violence“, we usually first think of physical violence, but there are other forms of violence which are equally painful. One of these forms is the so-called “digital violence” also called “cyber-bullying” (you can find more information about “Bullying” under the respective section). Unfortunately, there are people who use chat forums or social networks like Facebook to hurt, expose, threaten or blackmail others. In some cases, the perpetrator and victim don’t even know each other, but in many cases, the perpetrator also uses the internet for insults or threats that they would not say out loud at school or in a sports club.
Another form of digital violence is when people use intimate photos or videos of others to blackmail them – for example “If you break up with me, I will forward the nude photos which I tool of you to the whole school!” It happens repeatedly that boys or men use this technique to try to blackmail girls into having sex with them. Other people distribute such photos to embarrass someone or to try and look cool themselves. Such an experience is usually very bad for those affected. They feel exposed and humiliated. Many blame themselves for sending intimate photos or having them taken. Unfortunately, it also happens that classmates or acquaintances who hear of such incidents do not judge the perpetrators, but rather, blame the victim. A girl is quickly labeled as “slut” because she sent her secret crush erotic pictures. Above all, however, many victims of digital violence feel helpless and believe that they cannot do anything about the attacks.
But that’s not correct. The internet is not exempt from the law, even though it may sometimes seem so. The rules and laws of “real” life also apply on Facebook and Instagram, in chat forums and on logs. It is a punishable offence to harass, insult, threaten or blackmail someone on the internet. It is also a punishable offence to distribute intimate photos or videos of you against your will – even if you gave your consent to having the photos taken or took them yourself. This also applies if the perpetrators remain anonymous: The police can determine who is behind the distribution of the photos or videos.
However, many girls find it difficult to talk to their friends or parents about digital violence. But that’s no reason to remain silent and ensure the digital violence. The online advisors at the FeM-Mädchenhaus can support you anonymously. You don’t have to be ashamed of anything in front of them; they can inform you of your rights and can give you tips on how to defend yourself.