Experiencing any form of online abuse is unacceptable.   Please reassure the person who has experience of this that they are not alone and that support is available.

They have some options they may want to consider around reporting the incident and accessing support.  It may help them to talk through these options with someone.

Support for online abuse

Document everything - Keep a copy of all instances of online harassment - either take a screenshot or print the pages. Try to get the messages as well as the profile pages the abuse is coming from. This will be useful evidence for the police or social media platforms if the harassment escalates. It also ensures you have a copy if the perpetrator deletes their posts and profile. 

Report it to the police - The police take online harassment reports seriously and they have lots of experience investigating them. Report the abuse early to the police either directly or through a report service such as www.report-it.org.uk. If you feel there is any immediate threat to your personal safety dial 999. 

Focus on your online security - As the perpetrator collects more and more information about you it is common that they may try and gain access to your accounts such as social media and email. Having strong passwords and turning on two-factor authentication is key, but there is lots of good advice at Get Safe Online. It is also worth reviewing what personal information exists about you online and trying to remove as much as possible. For example Google yourself and see if you can find your address, phone number or places where you regularly spend time. 

Remember it is not your fault - Perpetrators of online abuse can be people you know or complete strangers. Due to emotional and mental health issues these individuals spent time trying to wind people up and cause distress. It is not your fault. Speak to someone close to you about the abuse and contact a specialist victim support charity if you want expert emotional support.

Support for sextortion 
  • Do not panic. The police will take your case seriously. They will deal with it in confidence. You will not be judged.
  • Do not pay. Some victims who have paid hear no more about it, others pay and are asked for more money. In some cases, even when money is paid the offenders posts the videos or images anyway
  • Do not talk any further to the offenders. Take screen shots of any communication. Keep it as evidence.
  • Make a note of all details provided by the offenders. For example; the Skype name (particularly the Skype ID), the Facebook URL; the Western Union or MoneyGram Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN); any photos/videos that were sent, etc. 
  • Deactivate your social media account. Report the matter to the platform to have any video blocked. Set up an alert in case the video resurfaces. Deactivating the Facebook account rather than shutting it down will mean data is kept. This helps the police to gather evidence. The account can also be reactivated at any time. This means your online memories are not lost forever.
  • Report the matter to the police and your online service provider. 
  • Be aware that the scammer's Skype name is different to their Skype ID. It's the ID details that police will need. To get that, right click on their profile, select ‘View Profile’. Then look for the name shown in blue rather than the one above it in black. It'll be next to the word ’Skype’ and will have no spaces in it.
Remember that you're the victim of organised criminals. You're not alone and confidential support is available. You can get through this.

Support available

You may want to consider visiting the national cyber security centre (NCSC) government website for more information about how to be cybersafe  HERE

You may want to visit 'Get Safe Online'
HERE  which has advice and support about protecting yourself online.

Police Scotland's website offer good advice about online abuse https://www.scotland.police.uk/advice-and-information/internet-safety/social-media/

There is a helpline you can call at 'National Bullying Helpline' 0300 323 0169
and 0845 225 5787 Open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm.
Support within Queen Margaret University:
Support for students is available
if you would like to speak with someone about your experience, please consider the following options: 
You may consider speaking with your Personal Academic Tutor or a member of your academic team. 

Our students can also speak with a member of staff in their Student's Union who can offer advice and guidance. 

All students can access support from our university wellbeing and counselling services, based in student services.  For more information please see below:

Mental health and wellbeing support for students available within QMU:
  • QMU Wellbeing service HERE
  • QMU Counselling service HERE
  • Togetherall - online support for mental health HERE

    Support for Staff is available, if you would like guidance and to speak with someone about your experience please make contact with our QMU Human Resources team.  There is also staff mental health and wellbeing support:
  • 'Be Supported' Staff Employee Assistance Programme HERE
  • Togetherall - online support for mental health HERE


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