Welcome to the Cyber-Bullying, Sexual Harassment, and Assault Resource Center, which we hope will provide some guidance and information to those who have been the victim of online cyber bullying.
Cyberbullying is not just something that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, it is often a crime. Those engaged in cyber-bullying are committing crimes covered by real-world laws against harassment, libel or slander, defamation, contractual interference, tort law, malicious injury, negligence and more.
Causes of Bullying, Sexual Harassment, and Assault
The first thing to remember in all cases, is that it’s not caused by YOU. While the pain and suffering you feel is real, and is on your shoulders, the root cause of this kind of violent behavior is not you.
Conventions and Assault, Harassment, Sexual Assault
If you are at a convention and endure any sort of harassment, bullying, assault, sexual assault, or otherwise, we recommend speaking with the appropriate convention staff. More details below, under the Conventions section, under the AnimeCon.org section.
Other Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment
Sexual assault and harassment are especially harmful, and difficult situations to be placed in. Being a victim of sexual assault or sexual harassment can come with stigmas or other fears. Again it is especially important to remember that this does not devalue you as a person, and that you were not the cause.
They key thing to remember is that there are people out there who will help you free from judgement, or without controlling your actions. You can call a sexual assault hotline, you can talk to a trusted friend, you could talk to a school nurse or counselor. You can also talk to the police and file reports. If you’re afraid of publicity or judgement, sexual assault victims could talk to the right sort of licensed doctor or counselor, who would in most states be prohibited from sharing this information with anyone else as it is private medical/health information.
Getting bullied online or behind a screen is not the same kind of physical assault as others, but for victims it can still feel incredibly painful and place them in a difficult situation. You must remember that when you are bullied online and it affects your life, your job, or your performance, that you are not the cause, and not deserving of being the recipient of this bullying and harassment.
Responding to online harassment.
Online harassment can be tempting to respond to in-kind, with more name-calling, or with a passionate defense of yourself, but this should be considered only with extreme caution. Often, bullies online are bullies online because they have nothing better to do – no life, a bad job or not job, no one loves them. Getting into a fight with you online can be their amusement and sick, twisted entertainment for the day. If you have the option, it may often be better to block them, ignore them, block them more if they keep coming, et cetera. Or, you could ask your friends for help and advice.
An option, when it comes to anonymous posts, is to unplug and simply enjoy your life. The internet is certainly not the only thing in the world. When this is impossible because online bullies use tactics that affect your life or your job, then you may have to do something else.
Unfortunately there are not a lot of professional online resources for this sort of thing. The best people to talk to and work with are your friends, co-workers, bosses, and parents. In most cases, these people value you and want to respect and protect you.
Imagine an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend has been calling your workplace leaving nasty messages. If you speak to your boss about them, and describe your breakup as challenging, they are almost certain to be on your side. Your boss is paying you and has invested time and money into you. Most of the time, friendship too. They work with you regularly and have seen your interactions with your co-workers. If these are normal and friendly, they would have no reason to believe something told to them by some stranger. Don’t be afraid to speak to the people you interact with regularly.
AnimeCon.org has strict harassment policies which cover all kinds of situations. We are proud of our response to harassment, and we vigorously look into all complaints we receive. The first, and foremost priority, is to talk to us please.
A “zero tolerance” policy is the stupidest type of policy a convention can have, because “zero tolerance” also often means “zero investigation” and “zero compassion” for victims. It can also make you afraid to file a report against someone that may have previously been an acquaintance, or if you are simply the type of person to “not cause waves”. A truly thoughtful policy will take the victims wishes into account. If they only want a safe place to rest, or they want the person to be warned, we can do that. If the victim wants the person to stay away from them, we can kick the person out of the events. In all cases, we take great care to mete out the appropriate response.
Convention harassment examples.
I apologize for being vague below in these stories to protect the individuals involved. We organize a handful of conventions each year, and we estimate there is only one or two noteworthy instances at each event.
In one circumstance, we had a female attendee report to us that a specific, recognizable cosplayer was following them at one of our larger conventions. He had reportedly made certain obscene, suggestive comments to these females. In this case, they felt very uncomfortable and almost wanted to go home. We investigated and noticed the cosplayer acting suspiciously towards others, and so we kicked that person out – and the females who reported it to us returned happily and safely to the convention.
Another time, a good looking male cosplayer was being touched inappropriately, on the chest and arms, by a couple of females that he did not know. He stated to our staff in operations that this made him uncomfortable, that he also had a girlfriend, but that he didn’t want them kicked out either. We spoke with the females in question, asked them not to do that again, and explained how their actions were inappropriate and they should have started with “May I touch you?” instead of doing it without asking. All parties then went back to the convention and when we checked up later, the male had not experienced anything bad again.
In a rare example, we have had to deal with a false report. We had a girl report to us that a boy had been stalking her and following her. When we investigated, we found out that she and he had been exchanging text messages, that very day. Some of these messages from her included “Hey, I am going to the video room, meet me there?” – however she had a lengthy conversation with our staff in which she told us she had not been texting him at all that weekend and never wanted to see him. When we found out about these messages, we asked if she sent those messages, to which she said yes. (The messages were not fake and were not sent by a friend). She admitted that she reported him to us to get him kicked out, because he had broken up with her. Instead, we had to kick her out for false reporting. This is an incredibly rare and sad situation, and we generally assume reports that are made to us our true – and we won’t kick someone out for a false report if simply based on a misunderstanding or if someone genuinely feels like harassment is occuring. In this case, it was a deliberate attempt to harass someone by falsely reporting them for harassment.
In all cases, we do our best to understand what happened, and provide compassion and care for victims and report makers. In some circumstances, harassment is reported by third party observers and witnesses, and we investigate those cases as well. In some cases, we find out that it was consensual teasing. In other cases, the victim did not know how to report it to us. In both, we handled each case appropriately.
For Authority Figures
Take note that there are more than one key responsibilities for authority figures dealing with harassment. You are more than a “Punisher” to seek the accused, but you are also a compassionate ear for the victim. Your priorities should be:
1. Compassion and understanding for the victim.
2. Understanding the situation and listening to the victim.
3. Investigating, logging, verifying, and reporting.
4. Taking action, which is focused on protecting others.
Take care not to write a simple “Zero Tolerance” policy, and punish people based on any report, and instead tailor your actions to each situation individually. Your first priority is compassion and kindness for victims and reporter makers.
About This Site
This site was developed by Ryan Kopf and covers cases of sexual assault, harassment, sexual abuse, violence, bullying, cyberbullying, name-calling, and other troubles.
How can you help?
The easiest way you can help victims of bullying, assault, or harassment by being a listening ear when these situations occur. Often victims just need someone supportive to care about them and validate their feelings and suffering in order for them to deal with these situations.
The best way to help is to be a vigilant eye yourself against harassment or suspicious behavior. At our anime conventions, we like when people report any kind of suspicious or strange/bad behavior, as it can often help us catch problem individuals before they cause any incidents. You can also stand up against bullies and call people out when they do things like name-calling, slut-shaming, victim-blaming, harassment, stalking, and the like.