1: Recognise the problem

Are you receiving hate messages, threatening messages or blackmail? Is someone trying to pressure you into doing something you do not want to do? Is someone impersonating you by using your photos and making fake profiles? Is someone spending your money on platforms where you’ve linked your financial information? Is your personal information like your phone number or address being shared publicly without permission?

2: Report abuse on the platform

Most social media platforms have a Report mechanism so you flag inappropriate or offensive content, whether it’s about you, somebody you know or in general. Most social media platforms review reported content and take it down if the content moderators deem it to be violating the terms of use of the platform.

You can also report users who post abusive, hateful, or offensive images, videos or content. If somebody is targeting you, block them so that they can no longer contact you or see your activity. Platforms may suspend the user for a short duration in order to fine them.

In cases where somebody is targeting you or impersonating, you should take screen shots so that you can have documentation should you choose to take up the matter with the police or the platform. It always helps to have documented evidence of harassment if you are lodging a formal complaint.

3: Secure your accounts

If you find yourself at the receiving end of online harassment or bullying, you should make sure to secure your account. Change your password and remove all personal information like your address, phone number, and email address from public view. It is also advisable to delete location pins and the like. This is just so that your abuser will not be able to track you easily in physical locations.

4: Talk to someone

Talk to someone you trust. Tell them of the problems you are facing. Find someone who can be your ally. If the bully or the abuser is someone who is known to you, let someone in your circle know so that you can devise a way to deal with it. If you are facing cyber bullying in school or college, tell a trusted teacher or speak to your counsellor to see the best way of dealing with this. If you are afraid of repercussion, tell them to be discreet.

5: Filing a complaint

If you do decide a formal complaint, find out the proper avenue for you to do this based on your situation.

If it’s a case of cyber bullying or harassment from someone you know to be in your school or institution, talk to your teacher, counselor or gender grievance cell (if you have one). Request them to be discreet if that is your wish.

If it is abuse or harassment from someone online, whose identity you do not know, you can file a formal complaint with the Cyber Crime Cell. This website has a list of cyber crime cells in the country that you can file your complaint with. If your city is not listed, you can file a complaint with any of the cells listed. Cyber crimes are not bound by jurisdiction. You should send in evidence of abuse, harassment or bullying with your complaint.

It is a good idea to include screen shots of abusive messages, photographs, or videos with your written complaint.

6: Seek help

Cyber bullying and targeted online harassment takes a grave toll on those who have to go through it. Research has shown that teens and young adults who face cyber abuse are at risk for depression, anxiety and in most serious cases, suicide. It is crucial for your mental health and well-being that you seek help. This could be professional help from a therapist or through a support system of your choice. Talk to a friend, parent or family member, find a community and talk about the issues you find yourself grappling with.