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TRACeD Project: Five psychologists discuss about cyberviolence against women and girls


Through the TRACeD platform, we create a safe space for survivors

The conversation on gender violence against women isn't new, but its online dimension brought it into sharper focus in recent years. From receiving offensive and sexually explicit messages to enduring public shaming and threats, women may face many challenges in the online sphere. Specifically, findings from a 2020 survey by “Plan International”, revealed that 6 out of 10 young women say they have experienced online violence.

To gain deeper insights into a matter that impacts not just youth, but also parents and educators, we interviewed five psychologists from Greece, Italy and Slovenia. They provide psychological support through the TRACeD platform which was established during the TRACeD project to assist survivors of cyberviolence and provide them with educational resources for both prevention and response.

 

Which are the predominant forms of online violence and how can they be addressed?

According to experts, the most prevalent forms of violence are hate speech and sexual harassment. Psychologist Marianna Tzima often deals with cases of sextortion; she emphasizes the significance of women recognizing the illegality of these actions and empowers them to “take back control” by reporting incidents to authorities. Many women, she notes, hesitate to seek support due to stereotypes and the culture of “victim blaming” which unfairly places responsibility on women.

Furthermore, it is essential to acknowledge that online violence is not exclusively carried out by strangers. Psychologist Davide Vassena highlights how ex-partners could threaten to disclose intimate images or videos received during relationships as a means of retaliation. Despite that, female students and young women respond positively to awareness campaigns, such as those led by the TRACeD program, which were dedicated to confronting cyberviolence.

 

What guidance do psychologists offer to women and girls who encounter instances of online violence?

First and foremost, as highlighted by Marianna Tzima, it is vital to manage the privacy settings of social media platforms, ensuring that what we share on our profiles is not publicly visible. Furthermore, strong passwords (consisting of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols) as well as the activation of "two-factor authentication" are simple steps which safeguard our accounts against breaches.

Additionally, as psychologist Giorgia Veneziano emphasizes, women should collect evidence, particularly screenshots of their interactions with perpetrators, promptly block them in case of threats and report their behavior to the respective social media platform. Lastly, it is crucial to engage in open discussions about incidents of cyber violence with friends, family, and professionals to receive legal and psychological support.

 

Women's Experiences Shared Through TRACeD

Davide Vassena describes the TRACeD platform as the initial step toward "self-protection," offering survivors a way to navigate challenging situations.

Psychologist Cecilia Spalletti shared the story of a student who received derogatory "jokes" on WhatsApp and negative comments on Instagram from her classmates. After seeking support by the TRACeD platform, she discussed the incident with her family who contacted the school; this led to her classmates stopping this harassing behavior. Likewise, psychologist Miriam Friedenthal shared the experience of a young woman who was being blackmailed by her ex-partner with the threat of posting intimate photos. Upon reaching out to TRACeD, she decided to contact the police.

 

How to Tackle Online Violence Against Women and Girls?

The emergence of new technologies such artificial intelligence has broadened the scope of cyberviolence (e.g. through deepfake images), potentially leading to new forms of violence against women. Hence, there's a pressing need for legislative measures at a national and European level to protect users from cyberviolence. Moreover, educating and sensitizing women and girls about this issue is paramount to learn about online risks and strategies for addressing incidents.

The TRACeD platform serves as a safe space for survivors and their families, providing counseling, support, and access to valuable educational resources.

The TRACeD project is a two-year project co-funded by the EU which started in March 2022 and concludes in February 2024. It is implemented by the Centre for European Constitutional Law - Themistokles and Dimitris Tsatsos Foundation, in collaboration with the following partners: ActionAid Hellas, CODECA - Center for Social Cohesion, Development & Care, CSIi - Cyber Security International Institute, Fondazione Carolina, and the University of Ljubljana.

© Angelina Tsakiri, Public Awareness Projects Officer - ActionAid Hellas
Back to list of notificationsPublished: 29. February 2024 | Category: News