This week we will be focusing on online sexual harassment, child marriage, and emotional support animals! The National Sexual Violence Resource Center has put an emphasis on online harassment for this year’s SAAM and with so many of us utilizing online spaces after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic this is important to talk about! Moreover, it can be uncomfortable to talk about but child marriage is a worldwide problem, and cuts across ethnic, cultural and religious lines and can be found in almost every region. We are going to end the week focusing on emotional support animals and focusing on their ability to provide emotional and therapeutic benefit to those suffering with mental health or emotional issues. Follow along to learn about more resources!
Online (digital) harassment is an everyday occurrence for people of all ages and gender identities. The harassment can range from name calling to threats of physical harm. According to Pew Research 41% of adults have experienced online harassment and up to 60% of children between the age of 6 and 18 have experienced cyberbullying. Social media platforms allow for some safety measures such as blocking people, hiding profiles, and even keyword blocking but that doesn’t keep everyone safe. You are your own best advocate! Here are two resources for how to handle online harassment and how to get help:
Is Online Harassment Part of Gender-Based Violence?
“There is little research examining the psychological toll online abuse has on individuals. Anecdotally, we can see the toll when individuals are fearful of opening their emails, unable to return to work, or are making other changes to their daily lives based on fears related to the abuse.
The lack of certainty around the practicality of threats made makes an individual that much more cautious as to how he or she interacts with the world around him or her. These threats do not just exist on the internet, they exist in reality, placing the threat anywhere due to this missing information on whether the threat simply exists online or may also exist in one’s physical world. This feeling of not-knowing is pervasive and can drastically change how an individual engages in society.”
- Samantha Silverberg, Licensed Mental Health Specialist and Former Director of Online SOS
Parents and Kids and the New Age of Technology
Technology is a wonderful tool for communicating and information sharing, but like all tools children learn to use, parents can provide supervision and set limits to ensure their children have a safe and rewarding experience. Cyberbullying is a relatively new danger, and one that can have lasting consequences. Here are some tips for internet safety and preventing cyberbullying:
Child marriage is rooted in gender inequality and the belief that girls and women are inferior to boys and men. It is made worse by poverty, lack of education, harmful social norms and practices, and insecurity. It happens across countries, cultures, religions and ethnicities. Girls who formally marry or cohabit as if married before the age of 18 are more likely to have early pregnancies, experience dangerous complications in pregnancy and childbirth, acquire HIV, and experience sexual assault and domestic violence.
Emotional Support Animals
Some studies show that sexual assault survivors are diagnosed with PTSD at an even higher rate than veterans—about 30 percent of rape victims develop PTSD at some point, according to the National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center, compared to about 20 percent of veterans. Emotional support animals can be uniquely suited to help them overcome their issues with trust and relationships.
Refuge House now has the ability for survivors to bring their pets with them if they access our shelter services. We opened an in-house kennel in 2019. For more information you can call our hotline at 850-681-2111.