Bullying and harassment based on your sexuality, sex characteristics and gender identity can make you feel isolated or alone, and make it difficult to explore and express your identity. If you are struggling with online bullying and harassment remember, there are services that can help.
How can Netsafe help?
Netsafe is open seven days a week to give you free and confidential help with issues around online bullying, harassment or abuse. We’ll talk to you about what’s happening and give you advice on what you can do to stop the bullying or harassment and stay safe.
We may also contact the person bullying or harassing you to get them to stop – but we won’t do this unless you say it’s OK. Sometimes we may contact online platforms like Facebook or Snapchat to ask them to block or remove posts or other harmful content.
Netsafe’s role under the Harmful Digital Communications Act (HDCA) is to assist with complaints of digital communications. We are not an enforcement agency, but do have a high success rate in helping people experiencing online harm.
If you’re concerned about the immediate safety of you or someone else, call 111.
What are examples of online bullying, harassment and abuse?
Some of the things you can report to Netsafe include:
- Having your sexuality, sex characteristics or gender ‘outed’ by someone
- Being shamed or called names online, including insults relating to your sexuality, sex characteristics or gender
- Someone sharing nude or intimate images of you
- Someone trying to encourage you to hurt yourself
- Someone spreading rumours and lies about you
- Someone using fake accounts to make fun of you
- Being hacked or impersonated by someone else
- Someone repeatedly sending you unwanted messages
- Someone threatening to do any of the these things
What is the Harmful Digital Communications Act?
The Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015 tackles some of the ways people use technology to hurt others. It aims to prevent and reduce the impact of online bullying, harassment, image based abuse (sometimes called ‘revenge porn’) and other forms of abuse and intimidation online.
Online harassment or abuse based on gender or sexual orientation is a breach of the 10 Communication Principles set out in the Act. You can learn more about the Act and the 10 Communication Principles here.
What can I do if someone is harassing me?
We’ve put together some tips to help you to deal with online bullying:
- Take a breath: Its normal to freak out, or feel like you have to respond straight away. Take a breath, don’t respond right away and do the steps below first.
- Reach out: Talk to someone that you can trust. This could be a close friend, a parent, other family members, a guidance counsellor or even a teacher. If you’d rather talk to someone else, you can contact Netsafe, RainbowYOUTH, OUTLine or Youthline for support.
- Keep evidence: Save texts and emails and take screenshots of anything that might disappear later. Make sure you keep track of dates, what has happened, who you think did it and why.
- Report it: Block or report the bully online. Most social networks have safety centres with tips on how to deal with bullying on the platforms. Here are some handy links:
How common is it?
We know that gender diverse young people are four times more likely to be bullied at school than their cisgender peers, and same or both sex attracted young people are three times more likely to be bullied. Research shows that these statistics translate to the online world too, with queer and gender-diverse people commonly being targeted by bullies and abused online. Remember that there is support available to help if you are being bullied or abused online.
What happens if it’s more than bullying?
If someone is:
- encouraging you to hurt yourself
- sharing intimate images of you without your consent
- encouraging others to send harmful messages to you
- sharing your private information (such as publicly outing your sexuality, sex characteristics or gender) without you permission
- or threatening to do any of these things
You are not alone
Being bullied or harassed because of your sexuality, sex characteristics or gender identity is not ok. Often bullies feel more confident online, so it’s important to shut down harmful behaviour early and make sure they don’t start targeting other people too.
It’s common for people who are being bullied or harassed online to feel isolated or alone, but there is support available to help. We’ve put together a list of support services in New Zealand.
- Netsafe – Text ‘Netsafe’ to 4282, call 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723), email email@example.com or report online
- OUTLine – 0800 OUTLINE (688 5463)
Outline provides a free LGBTQIA+ helpline and support service.
- RainbowYOUTH – (09) 376 4155 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Rainbow Youth is an advocacy and support service for queer and gender diverse (LGBTQIA+) youth.
- Youthline – Call 0800 376 633, Free TXT 234 or email email@example.com
Youthline provides a free counselling service for young people.
- Lifeline – Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 TAUTOKO (0508 828 865)
A free 24 hour suicide crisis helpline operated by trained counsellors.
- Intersex Awareness New Zealand – http://www.ianz.org.nz/
Provides information and education to support intersex people and their families.
- Shine – 0508 744 633
A free helpline to provide support to people who have been victims of family violence.