The healthy response to online violence is to avoid responding out of emotion and instead understanding the reason behind the feelings that surface, according to a mental health guide created by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF). 

“Tackling the situation this way will help us to better understand the emotion we’re experiencing and take a different approach to the problem. It will allow us to find a more rational solution and we’ll avoid entering into a back and forth exchange with our abuser. A healthy response to online abuse is to focus on staying safe,” said the guide released this November. 

While the guide was made for journalists, the mental health exercises for dealing with online violence are also useful for non-journalists. Among these techniques are diaphragmatic breathing, managing negative thoughts, meditating on particular imagery, grieving rituals, self-comfort, and establishing a routine. 

IWMF, a Washington, DC-based organization that supports women journalists, noted that online abusers resort to such forms of violence because they either don’t live close enough to the victim or because they’re afraid.  

Like other abusers, they are fueled by inferiority and envy, which is the reason why online violence occurs in two forms: threatening a person’s life and safety and/or threatening their reputation, said the report.  

“Digital abuse leads to dire consequences, including an inability to work, a loss of livelihood,” said Elisa Lees Muñoz, IWMF executive director, in a Dec. 5 statement. “We hope our growing resources put abusers on notice and encourage news media at-large to address the culture of silence surrounding this issue.”  

According to a 2021 report on online gender-based violence in the Philippines, women aged 18 to 30 years (48.65%) are the most vulnerable to OGBV followed by girls under 18 (18.92%) and women aged 31 to 45 (10.81%).  

Published by the Foundation for Media Alternatives, a Philippine non-profit, the report also found that almost half (48.65%) of the OGBV violations committed between Jan. 1 and June 23, 2021 were due to the unauthorized sharing of private information. The most common threats were of violence and/or blackmail (45.95%) and taking of photos and/or videos without consent (43.24%). — Patricia B. Mirasol