Lexicon of Cyber ​​Violence: Nine Forms of ‘Online’ Abuse Against Women That Can Go Unnoticed | Technique

University students attend a class on hate crimes at Erzantsa Campus.
University students attend a class on hate crimes at Erzantsa Campus.Javier Hernandez

Physical violence, especially against women, is like the visible universe: the visible part is minuscule compared to the invisible reality. For every known case there are dozens of instances of daily violence, latent and persistent over time that, in most cases, find their vehicle, instrument and megaphone in the technological media. A study conducted by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) in the past two years, Combating cyber violence against women and girls, concludes that there is a “serious lack of data and research impeding an adequate assessment of the prevalence and impact” of this pest. warns Berta Fall, a Blanquerna-Universidad Ramón Llull Couple and Family Research Group and member of the European DeStalk Project Against Cyber ​​Violence. The EU study identifies nine areas: from stalking, blackmail, intimidation, harassment, gender-based hate speech or non-consensual use of intimate images to other imperceptible or subtle forms involving the use of Internet-connected home devices, phishing or data disclosure.

During the routine monitoring of the environment of a woman with a protection order, last December the Civil Guard of the Isla Mayor (Seville) discovered that the car of the ex-partner of the victim, with a restraining order, was parked in front of his house . The agents said that the search of the car made it possible to detect in one of the windows a mobile phone with “a remote video surveillance application, with which the ex-husband has complete knowledge and control of the woman’s movements.” The perpetrator has been arrested and brought to justice.

It is an example of how technologies facilitate different forms of cyber violence, which includes both those that take place online, through social networking and messaging platforms, and what results from the use of devices, such as the case of Isla Mayor. Violence Online It is nothing more than a continuation of the violence that women and girls experience on a daily basis. This amplifies, extends, and gets worse with the use of the Internet and digital devices. This first international team publication General recommendation on the digital dimension of violence against women (General recommendation on the digital dimension of violence against women).

Christine Leube, Germany’s representative to the Council of Europe, acknowledges that, in light of this reality, “there is not enough data on the different forms of cyber violence and this has to do with the fact that many Member States do not address it in their penal codes, so they do not collect the corresponding data.” also “.

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Internet security company Kaspersky is part of the European DeStalk program and is one source for a look at the reality of cyber violence. According to his latest report, the 70% of women in the European Union have experienced violence through spy networks or devices Has also experienced at least one form of physical or sexual abuse by an intimate partner. Spain ranks sixth among the most affected countries, and 24% of people surveyed by the company admitted that they had experienced some kind of violence or harassment by a partner or ex-partner using technology. 21% believe they are being spied on by mobile applications, a circumstance that contrasts with the perception of this type of behaviour: three out of 10 respondents They see no problem with the spouses being in control “under certain circumstances”.

The EIGE study aims to break down the barrier of ignorance and misunderstanding of actions that are intolerable under any circumstances, despite the opinion of 30%. The first thing is to identify these behaviors. In this sense, the European report identifies nine areas in which these forms of violence develop:

stalking (electronic stalking). It occurs systematically and continuously and is perpetrated by an individual with the intent of undermining the victim’s sense of security. It includes using abusive or threatening emails, messages, posting intimate photos or videos, and monitoring victims through various means.

Intimidation, coercion and harassmentOnline harassment). It is also an ongoing behavior designed to cause severe emotional distress and often fear of physical harm. The main victims are young, vulnerable children. It may include requests for sexual favors or the delivery of any unwanted content deemed offensive, offensive, insulting, or intimidating with threats and hate speech online.

hatred (Online hate speech/incitement to violence or hatred). Although it is a broad term associated with violence against groups based on their ethnic, religious or indigenous conditions, it is also registered against women and connotes incitement to sex, labeling and degrading comments about physical appearance, as well as threats of rape.

Non-consensual posting of intimate images, espionage and sextortion. The first refers to the public posting of sexually explicit content of one or more persons without their consent. Most of the victims are women and it is usually committed by the victim’s ex-partner with intent to take revenge or to undermine the woman’s privacy. the peaking o Digital espionage is another form of violence where perpetrators take and share non-consensual, non-consensual photos of a woman’s intimate areas. Some of the emerging forms of these violations include posting false images or receiving unsolicited sexually explicit content.

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phishing. The Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) provides a precise definition: “In Internet forums and social networks, posting provocative, offensive or indecent messages in order to interrupt something or someone or impede the conversation”. It begins to be considered a form of harassment by including offensive or confusing messages. The perpetrator may have nothing to do with the victims and their weapons, when the trolling is sexist, these are gender-based insults, vicious language, and threats of rape and death by a group coordinated to humiliate women, particularly those who express their opinions.

arsonists (Flaming). It is an aggressive and hostile form of online communication that is always characterized by insults, indignation and hatred. Typically, they usually contain uppercase letters and exclamation marks. It is used to provoke a reaction from another user. It is closely associated with trolling, and few laws or policies consider it a form of violence. These acts can be overtly misogynistic and often contain threats, fantasies, or incitement to sexual violence.

Data disclosure (Doxing or doxxing). It consists of searching for, collecting, and publicly sharing personally identifiable information against the will of the target. It includes personal and sensitive data such as address, photos, names of the victim and relatives. It can be used by a large number of offenders in campaigns of harassment and threats with significant psychological consequences, and by allowing victims to locate them, it can also be a precursor to physical violence. Methods used to obtain such information include searching publicly available databases and social networking sites, as well as hacking and social engineering. The reasons can be harassment, exposure, financial harm, extortion, and even targeting of the victim in the physical world. It can also involve manipulating this information with the intent of further shaming and embarrassing the victim.

coercion of fake friendssolicitation). This is coercion to expose or share sexual material. In contrast to outright blackmail, it is a process by which the perpetrator subjects the victim to abuse through manipulative behavior intended to evoke sexual content, such as nude photos, conversations, or other forms of online interactions. It starts with contacts to generate a relationship of trust with the victims, particularly with minors, the perpetrators resort to false profiles to appear as someone facilitating a false friendship that will culminate in blackmail.

violence through connected devices (Violence facilitated by the Internet of Things). It is the exploitation of the Internet of Things (the Internet of Things or connected devices) to harass, stalk, control or abuse. It is implemented through devices such as smart doorbells, speakers, security cameras, or any other device connected to the Internet and with a remote control. Some examples of this type of violence are turning on remote control switches (such as those for lights or heating in a victim’s home), locking another person in by controlling a smart security system, or recording with security cameras or special devices.

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Researcher Berta Fall highlights the importance of this approach in the reality of cyber violence: “We know that if you don’t have a name or identification, it is very difficult for victims and abusers to identify it. There was a great need to know the different types of violence and the specific tools to confront it.”

The researcher advocates for an intervention that “involves different relevant sectors. Not only from the point of view of psychological or police interest, but also for legislators, politicians and society, who must be sensitized.”


The need for social awareness is fueled by the growth of cyber violence practices thanks to the widespread means of carrying them out. You don’t have to go to or be on the dark web hacker [pirata informático] to practice cyber violence. In fact, just search on Google and you will find dozens of programs, apps, and tutorials. The amount of information available on the Internet about cyberbullying is scary, ”warns Elena Gagoto, project manager of the organization Una Casa per l’Uomo, also a member of the DeStalk program, for which Kasperski has designed a free course available in five languages.

Dimitra Mensidis, of the WWP European Network Project, argues that programs like this should “ensure that women and girls are free and safe in the places where they work and live”. “Women must be empowered to learn about forms of digital violence, discourage men from using them, publicize available resources, and mobilize.”

In this sense, the cybersecurity company Kasperski, in collaboration with the Stop Digital Gender Violence Association, presented a series of workshops last December to train IPA (International Police Members Association) agents in the Basque Country to use the TinyCheck computer tool created to detect spyware and digital harassment on Tablets and mobile phones. During these workshops, the agents were also trained in advanced cyber threat detection systems, specifically harassing spyware (Online stalking).

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