Keeping yourself safe online and what to do if you experience cyber abuse

With the shift to online learning and everyone spending more time connected online, it’s important to think about your safety. There are some things that you can do to help keep yourself safe online. It’s also important to identify when someone is making you feel unsafe and what to do if this happens.

Make sure you stay up to date with your virus protection and keep on top of your privacy settings:

  • Check whether use of the device, app or website involves any security, privacy or cookie policies or third-party information sharing — check the eSafety guide for advice on privacy settings and how to protect your personal information.
  • Check your account and settings to ensure you are not sharing anything you wish to keep private. 
  • Protect your devices — particularly Android devices — against viruses, malware and spyware. There are apps you can download to reduce the risks, here.
  • Think about which apps really need to be able to access your location information and turn off location services for all others. If privacy or safety is a concern, do not opt in to sharing your location through apps that allow location sharing with friends.
  • Turn off your apps and browsers and cover your webcam when not in use.
  • Learn about online scams and identity theft.

Technology Facilitated Abuse

Technology Facilitated Abuse can include, but is not limited to, harassment, bullying, inappropriate comments, and stalking via the use of technology. It is sometimes called online abuse or cyber abuse. Just because the behaviour occurs online, does not mean that consequences do not apply. 

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages that mock, insult, or threaten them.

What is cyber stalking?

Cyber stalking is when repeated unwanted contact online that makes you feel scared or upset.

What to do if you experience technology facilitated abuse:

  • Evidence: Keep relevant evidence for investigations. This can be done by taking screenshots, noting URL’s or printing web pages. Always keep phone messages. Try not to keep looking at abusive messages or content as this may cause further distress.
  • Inform: To prevent future abuse make sure to change passwords, contact details, block profiles on social networking sites and report abuse online.
  • No Retaliation: Ensure that you do not retaliate. Ask the person to stop and then do not have any further communication with them. Retaliating can cause escalation.
  • Report: Cyber abuse can be reported to the website, mobile phone service providers and/or Police.
  • Referral: Contact Safer Community, we will assist you with expert advice, information, referrals and options to manage cyber abuse, and keep yourself safe online. We can help you to record evidence and make reports to external organisations, including Police.

Being an active bystander online:

If you see unacceptable or inappropriate behaviour online don’t just let it slide. Depending on your style and what you feel confident doing, help could look like:

  • DM: Message the affected person to make sure they’re ok, tell them that you are available to help and assist finding support if they need it.
  • Call it out: If you feel safe and confident, stand up to the abuser and make it clear that what they are doing is not right. This can be as subtle as giving a thumbs down emoji or even a comment like ‘not cool’. 
  • Get extra help: If you or someone else is impacted by what has occurred, then speak to them about the supports offered by La Trobe Student Wellbeing
  • Report it: Report the person, and/or offensive or disrespectful content, to the host website.

More information:

If you think you or someone you know has experienced technology facilitated abuse, or you have concerns about your online safety, you can get in contact with Safer Community.

Call Safer Community on 03 9479 8988

Email the Safer Community team

Complete an online report via our website

Visit us in person at Bundoora PE level 2 or Bendigo SSC

Not sure if Safer Community covers your issue? Get in touch for a consult or check out the Safer Community website for information.  Please note: Safer Community is not an emergency or critical response service, and reports, emails and voicemails are not reviewed outside of operating hours. For afterhours assistance please contact the La Trobe Crisis Line on 1300 146 307 or text 0488 884 100 or Security on campus at 9479 2222.