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How to help someone deal with adult cyber abuse

Friends and family play an important role in helping people who have experienced adult cyber abuse.

Support that is non-judgemental and focuses on the person’s experience and what they are feeling is the most useful. You can make a huge difference by just being there for your friend or loved one.

People who have experienced adult cyber abuse can feel a range of emotions from fear to anxiety, anger and a sense of hopelessness. They may suffer trauma and ongoing depression. The impacts can be temporary, but in some cases they can last a long time.

What can you do?

  • Listen and just be there when they need to talk – ask them how they feel and tell them how upset you are by what is happening.
  • If the abuse is part of domestic and family violence – encourage them to look for the warning signs and consider planning for their online safety.
  • Refer them to our advice about how to manage the impacts of adult cyber abuse and remind them to resist the urge to hit back at the person who abused them.
  • Help them to report adult cyber abuse to the online or electronic service or platform used to send or share the harmful content. The eSafety Guide has links you can follow. If the service or platform does not help, you can help the person report to eSafety.
  • Check through eSafety’s information about reporting adult cyber abuse with them, including the advice on how to collect evidence.
  • Help them if they need to talk with the police or get legal help – if the abuse continues or gets worse, they may need protection. It can be useful to take notes that they can read over later.
  • Help them get further support – let them know they don’t need to face this alone and they can talk to a counsellor or doctor.
  • Encourage them to review their privacy settings – you can find online safety advice and links to update privacy settings in The eSafety Guide.
  • Help them do things they enjoy – for example, take them out, watch a movie together, go for a walk together or share a meal with them.

Encourage them to get mental health support

If you notice your friend or family member is depressed, anxious, or there are changes in their mood, sleep, eating, energy levels or willingness to socialise, let them know you are worried about them. Ask them to get help from a counsellor or psychologist and offer to help them book an appointment or go with them. You can help them find a qualified provider on our list of counselling services.

Report adult cyber abuse to eSafety

If the content is seriously harmful and the service or platform does not help, you can report it to eSafety using our online form.

Report now

Last updated: 31/07/2023