Why it is often best to not engage with your online harassers
If you are being harassed online, choosing not to respond to online abuse is powerful. From our experience, online harassers do not care what you respond with but however you respond - negatively or positively, you have responded.
A response is all the perpetrator of online harassment needs: acknowledgement and confirmation. A response has given them attention. They then may decide to get more creative and escalate the harassment.
If the internet troll doesn't get a response, they can get bored because they haven't had a reaction from you and they move onto another target. Not responding and ignoring the internet trolls may reduce the trauma that the posts initially made you feel and in fact, make you feel more in control and powerful.
Sometimes though, even if you don't respond to online abuse, the harassment can escalate. It all depends on the motive of the online abuser. In many cases that we have dealt with, the abuser (who may be known to you) has a vendetta against you or your business and no amount of ignoring encourages them to back down and they can often take the online harassment to different levels as they create a campaign of harassment against you, encouraged by your lack of response.
They may be motivated by your lack of response and increase the harassment because their drive is to make you respond. Only they know their motives and what drives them to inflict abuse on their online victims. This is when social media harassment can take over your life and cause serious emotional, physical and professional damage for you.
Choosing not to respond to social media harassment is powerful but doing nothing about it at all is not advisable. The online abuse is getting worse and it is having a detrimental effect on you.
We have assisted hundreds of people with their online harassment cases. Doing nothing when it comes to mean random posts from anonymous cyberstalkers may make them move on and go away but if it persistent and they are affecting you and causing alarm and distress, then this is harassment which you shouldn't have to endure.
We recommend that even if you choose to not respond to online abuse, we want you to do something and that is screenshot the abuse and record it because it may escalate and you will need this as evidence. Document the online harassment and report it to the police and keep copies for any future legal case that may arise from it. A police report will be helpful with the legal case, regardless of how the police deal with your online harassment. Some of our clients do not have the initial evidence of when the harassment started because they have deleted it, thinking that it will go away.
If the harassment is on social media , do remember that online harassment and internet trolling is a violation of their platforms, so even if you ignore the trolls, be sure to report them on that platforms Report Abuse sections. Many platforms and forums should have a Terms and Conditions section where abuse is not tolerated. Report online abuse wherever you are experiencing it.
If you host your own website with a forum or comments section, delete the offensive material. It isn't a violation of people's free speech. It is online harassment and it is up to you to moderate your platform and include trolls and their abusive comments. It is a good idea to put a Terms and Conditions section on your site that states that you do not tolerate abuse and you will instantly remove the posts and cancel the users account.
If you are in doubt, seek legal advice. We encourage you to call us or another expert online harassment solicitor today, as doing nothing at all may be jeopardising your health and your reputation. Even if you don't respond to online abuse, you may want to make the posters accountable and/or have the offending web pages removed. Our online harassment lawyers can remove web pages where the online abuse has occurred and from experience, turning your frustration and upset into making the perpetrator accountable could very well make you feel vindicated. Don't respond directly to the abuser but do seek legal advice from specialist online harassment lawyers today: 0800 612 7211.