4 important steps you must take before engaging with your online harasser
Generally speaking, pleading with your online harassers is a bad idea. When faced with online harassment, most victims of harassment try what appears at first the most sensible option, which is to plead with your internet troll or harasser to leave you alone.
Whether you should plead with your online harasser to stop harassing you, you should first and foremost assess your feelings of anxiety and threat level and what pleading with your online harasser will achieve. Trust your judgment. You need to decide whether or not engaging with an online harasser and a troll will escalate the abuse or compromise your safety. Of course, if you believe you or your loved ones are in immediate danger, report the harassment to the police as soon as you can.
In general, always use your best judgment and take into consideration whether or not you know your harasser, whether or not they pose a physical threat and what the possible outcome of what you post back when responding to your online harasser could be.
Assess whether the online abuse has an impact on your personal or professional life. Would it be best to just ignore your harasser and not engage at all. Ask your self questions such as:
Does the harassing content include personal details about you or your loved ones?
Have they named you specifically?
Do you know the harasser and what would pleading with them do?
What if it results in an escalation of online abuse?
If you respond and plead with your online harasser, they could listen and stop. In some cases, the online harassment escalates, for reasons only the harasser knows. It may be that they have your attention and that their motives were successful. A response is all they need.
If you rely on an online presence for your career, you may feel that directly confronting a harasser could be an important and an empowering step in countering online abuse and reclaiming control of online narratives about one’s life and work. It is rare that an internet troll does not respond, though and the harassment could escalate but you may feel that you benefit emotionally if you do engage, and it would be wise to think carefully about the response.
If you find that you are aggravated by the abuse and want to respond with similar abuse, as tempting as it might be, it may not be advisable. Some confrontations may not end up as the outcome you would like, or they may, if you decide to respond with no name calling or just highlighting the harassment rather than the online harasser. You may take pride in the fact that you responded cleverly and that the harasser did not achieve the effect in you that they wanted.
If it feels that the online harasser poses threats, it is advisable not to engage with them at all. Choosing not to respond to the online abuser but still doing something about it legally, may save you a lot of anxiety.
Be ready for unpredictable behaviour by your harasser. In many cases, we have experienced that engaging with harassers doesn't stop their online behaviour. It is difficult to know how cyberstalkers and online harassers will react and it is down to you to decide.
Regardless of whether you do or don't respond, screenshot everything (forwarding information may result in the loss of important data that may be required), don't delete anything (even your responses that may make you feel embarrassed) and document all evidence and report them to the police.
If you want it dealt with sooner and need to have the offending posts removed and the internet troll tracked and made accountable and you have substantial evidence of online harassment, contact us, or another law firm that can help. Our team of expert internet law experts are here to assist you: 0800 612 7211.