“The past summer I had gone on a cruise with a close friend. She and I met two brothers, who had taken an interest in us. After much dancing and drinking together, I began to feel sick. One of the brothers helped me back to my cabin, taking care of me as I became almost physically impaired. I eventually passed out.
I awoke naked, on top of bloodied sheets. At some point while I was unconscious, the brother who had accompanied me back to my cabin had sex with me.
I did not see or hear from him again until months later in early October. He had somehow figured out my last name and found me on Facebook. He messaged me, calling me "trouble" and a "slut." He said if he was ever in the town that I attend school, he would be sure to come up to "rub in my face."
His message forced me into reliving the event I had tried to erase from my mind. It caused problems with me and my current boyfriend, but most of all it had frightened me. Facebook allowed him to track me down, and make abusive and threatening comments to me. He abused this online technology, causing me even more pain than he already had.” – Story from Charlottesville, USA
“It’s been a month since I have been receiving nasty mean text messages, death threats and rape threats. I was also being watched. Whenever I receive a text its either they say that they are watching me or following me. Its becoming more scary everyday.
The problem is I dont know who is those people who send those text messages.
It started when my fiance was supposed to be promoted but he decided to un renew his contract. Then lost of things popped out. Some people harassing me on facebook then now on text messages.
We really have no idea who is the one behind it. But my fiance have a list who could probably do it. As much as I want to file a case I cant do anything because I have no proof on such person.
I tried to contact the network company if they can help me regarding my case. But they just said the person who sends me those text is using a prepaid and they cannot do anything about it.” – Story from Philippines
What would you do? How can you help?
These are stories and experiences shared by women, girls and activists on the Take Back the Tech! map. As part of our effort to build awareness, advocate for recognition and justice for technology-related violence against women, we have been calling for the documentation, mapping and sharing of cases and experiences of harassment, stalking, threats and violence that women and girls face online, or through the use of internet and mobile technologies.
In most places in the world, there are no adequate laws that recognise this issue, and those who face such violence have little place to turn to for help. Police are unsure of how to help when it is not specifically recognised as a breach of law. Companies like mobile phone providers and social networking platform providers don’t see this as part of their responsibility. Women’s rights organisations working on violence against women increasingly have to respond to the role of things like Facebook and SMS messages in the cases that they receive, with the need for more capacity building and analysis.
Each experience is different. At the same time, there are some aspects of each story that resonates with our own knowledge and experience.
How can we share what we know to help provide support and make online spaces safer?
How have you dealt with SMS harassers in the past, and what seemed to work?
What do you do to increase the privacy and safety of your social networking spaces?
Is there a strategy that you follow on what to share and what not to share online?
One of the most important ways to address violence against women online is to build our knowledge and skills on how to use internet and mobile technologies more safely. Share your strategies and support!
- Read the stories and cases on the Take Back the Tech! map
- Post your thoughts on how to deal with the situation as a comment. Share your experience or knowledge.
- Share useful resources on online safety and privacy on the Take Back the Tech! Facebook page or tweet us [@takebackthetech #takebackthetech]
- Start by checking out the “Be Safe” section of the campaign site, and find out more about how internet and mobile technology works, the risks, and what you can do to be safer.
Take Back the Tech! Share your stories and strategies for safety.