Skip to navigation Skip to content
Young woman wearing headphones and sitting on steps with laptop

29 November 2021

Online abuse is not OK, but here’s what you can do about it

We’ve all been spending a lot of time online during the pandemic, including for learning and study, and it should be a safe, productive and enjoyable space for everyone.

But are you among the one in three Australians who’s been trolled online? Unfortunately – and just like in the physical world – people sometimes cross the line and become abusive, bullying or aggressive. Cyberbullying is a particular problem for young women and minority groups, who are often the targets of sexist, harassing or disrespectful comments.

Research shows that trolling can cause significant harm and distress. It’s associated with serious physical and psychological effects, including disrupted sleep, lowered self-esteem, depression, self-harm, suicidal ideation and, in some cases, even suicide.

I think it’s awful – but I feel helpless

If you’ve ever been upset or offended by a comment on an online space, you may have felt powerless to do anything. The kinds of people who make abusive comments hide behind their keyboards and anonymous avatars, and it’s easy to think that there’s no way to call it out.

One powerful thing you can do is to become an active online bystander – someone who says or does something when they see harassment and discrimination. At Deakin we offer free bystander training where you’ll learn how to deal with difficult situations – like a joke that makes you feel uncomfortable or constitutes sexual harassment – in a practical and positive way. If you’d like to find out about upcoming training, just email [email protected].

Also check out:

I’ve seen abuse in a Deakin online space

All Deakin students are expected to:

If you’ve witnessed or experienced any offensive, discriminatory, harassing, bullying or other inappropriate behaviours from other Deakin students while you’ve been studying or socialising online, we can support you. Please contact:

I don’t feel safe getting involved

While standing up to online abuse is just so important, your safety should always be the priority.

Don’t feel under pressure to get involved in a situation if you think it could be unsafe or risky. GenVic advises you to do what you can – things like taking screenshots, reporting posts to social media platform administrators and reporting harassment to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.

If you’re concerned, support is also available from:

back to top
%d bloggers like this: