What is online abuse?

Online Abuse 

Adopting Women’s Media Center definition online abuse includes a diversity of tactics and malicious behaviours ranging from sharing embarrassing or cruel content about a person to impersonation, doxing, stalking to the nonconsensual use of photography and violent threats.

The purpose of harassment differs with every incidence, but usually includes wanting to embarrass, humiliate, scare, threaten, silence, extort or, in some instances, encourages mob attacks or malevolent engagements.

Online Violence Against Women + Girls

Violence against women is a form of discrimination against women and a human rights violation falling under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination and other international and regional instruments, according to which violence against women includes gender-based violence against women, that is, violence directed against a woman because she is a woman and/or that affects women disproportionately.[1]

Article 1 of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women further specifies that violence against women is any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

The definition of online violence against women therefore extends to any act of gender-based violence against women that is committed, assisted or aggravated in part or fully by the use of ICT, such as mobile phones and smartphones, the Internet, social media platforms or email, against a woman because she is a woman, or affects women disproportionately.

Online Violence Against Politically Active Women

Violence against women in politics (VAW-P) encompassess all forms of aggression, coercion and intimidation against women as political actors simply because they are women (‘93 UN Declaration on VAW). It is designed to restrict the political participation of women as a group. It is directed at women as civic leaders, voters, political party members, candidates, elected representatives and appointed officials (National Democratic Institute, #NotTheCost Campaign 2017).

Online Hate Speech

Online hate speech has no uniform legal definition but can be found in different statutes. The baseline definition is expressions whether that is written material, action and images of hatred toward someone on account of that person’s colour, race, disability, nationality (including citizenship), ethnic or national origin, religion, or sexual orientation, disability or other traits is forbidden.


The act of causing problems on the internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory messages. It is done with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response


The use of the internet of other electronic means to stalk or harass an individual, group or an organisation.


The unauthorised retrieving and publishing, often by hacking, of a person’s personal information, including, but not limited to, full names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, spouse and children names, financial details. “Dox” is a slang version of “documents” or .doc. Causing fear, stress and panic is the objective of doxing, even when perpetrators think or say that their objective is “harmless.”

Cyber-exploitation, Nonconsensual Photography or “Revenge Porn”

The distribution of sexually graphic images without the consent of the subject of the images.