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Recovering from online abuse

If you have experienced any type of online abuse, it is important to get support, take care of yourself and focus on the positive aspects of your life.

Feeling anxious or depressed due to online abuse is a normal response to trauma. Remember you are not alone. It’s a sad reality that many people in the LGBTIQ+ community have experienced online abuse and they may be going through similar experiences to you right now. 

Online abuse can take many forms. It could be adult cyber abuse or image-based abuse, and it could include cyberstalking, doxing or online scams. Find out more about different types of online abuse and use these practical tips to help yourself recover and heal.

Tip 1: Allow time to heal

Some people who experience online abuse find they need to go through a healing process. Depending on the situation, this could be because they feel unsafe or hurt or because they have been deceived by someone. It can take time to feel better.

‘I was almost scammed by a woman I was talking to on Tinder last year.’

‘I thought she was really interested in me. I felt so embarrassed that I had been sucked into the scam. It made me feel bad about myself. It took me a while to get over it. I went through the five stages of grief, from denial to acceptance. Letting this process happen allowed me to forgive myself for trusting a stranger, and it helped me to understand that it was not my fault. With a bit of time, I’ll try online dating again.’ – Aera*

Tip 2: Train your brain to think differently

Many people who are suffer from online abuse feel they are to blame. But no one deserves abuse. If you find yourself constantly thinking about the situation, you could try mindfulness activities, check out Beyond Blue’s LGBTIQ+ resources or contact a counsellor from a LGBTIQ+ support service to talk about your experience.

‘My ex-girlfriend threatened to dox me, and this made me feel depressed and anxious.’

‘I was paranoid all the time thinking that some stranger might see my personal details or know where I live. I found it difficult to think positive things and I was always expecting the worst. A friend recommended I learn meditation, and this really saved my life. I started listening to guided mediations and taking deep breaths every time I had negative thoughts. I learned how to observe my thoughts and reaffirm that these negative feelings were all in my mind. I feel that I have retrained my brain to think differently now. I can feel negative emotions, name them and let them pass.’ – Kirra*

Tip 3: Remember you are not to blame

It’s not your fault if you have experienced online abuse. Sometimes you might blame yourself and question your own actions. But remember we have no control over how other people respond.

‘I was targeted online by a person who creates fake charities on behalf of an LGBTIQ+ cause.’

‘I told him off in one of his fake charities posts and he didn’t take it well. He started targeting me online. It was so horrible. I spent days questioning myself and thinking that I had done something wrong by calling him out and warning other people. After reporting him to eSafety, I still felt that I had somehow brought this on myself. I also felt like I was overacting. But on reflection, I realise I was doing the right thing by calling out what he was doing and stopping other people from being scammed by him. I was also conscious of the damage he was doing to the LGBTIQ+ community.’ – Rob*

Tip 4: Share your experience with others  

It can be hard to reach out if you have experienced online abuse but talking to someone can really help. You can also read our suggestions on talking to friends and family, if you have experienced image-based abuse. Or contact a LGBTIQ+ support service.

‘My ex-partner cyberstalked me and I needed help from the police. This was just such a crazy and scary thing to be going through.’

‘I found a psychologist and he encouraged me to share my experience with my friends and family. I got so much support from them. I was really scared that they wouldn’t understand or would judge me for what was happening, but they were amazing.’ – Zhan*


*The personal stories quoted here are real accounts taken from eSafety's community engagement sessions, only the names have been changed.

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Last updated: 26/09/2022