VHA Assault and Harassment Prevention Office
Cyberstalking and Cyberbullying Resources and Prevention
Living in a digital world that uses technology to conduct many daily activities has opened the door to an increase in cyber harassment. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is committed to creating a culture where everyone is treated with civility, compassion, and respect. Below are resources for Veterans who may be experiencing cyber harassment, cyberstalking, or cyberbullying.
Top Federal Resource Websites
The Department of Justice site on Internet Safety, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) StopBullying.gov, and additional resources for protecting yourself or a loved one against cyber harassment.
Cyber Harassment on Social Media Platforms
If you experience cyber harassment through social media, block the harasser and locate the site’s “Community Guidelines” to see what recourse you may have.
You may be able to:
- Increase your privacy settings
- Report the violation to the "Community" Platform
- Get the content removed
- Get the individual banned
Be sure to document situations of cyber harassment and capture a screenshot as evidence of the harassment.
Cyber Harassment Laws by State
Receiving inappropriate comments is uncomfortable, but they may not be considered cyberbullying or cyberstalking.
Cyber harassment may occur as online/digital contact becomes more unwanted, severe, and pervasive. Each state's laws vary. StopBullying.gov provides an interactive map of anti-bullying state laws. States may address bullying, cyberbullying, and related behaviors in a single law or across multiple laws. Select your state for further information.
When to Contact Local Law Enforcement
If an individual has crossed the line into cyber harassment, per your state’s laws, contact local law enforcement. Obtain police help or medical attention immediately if:
- There is mention of a weapon, a threat of physical violence, harm, or sexual assault toward you or someone else (directly or indirectly).
- The threats include hate-motivated violence such as racism or homophobia.
- The harasser has committed an illegal act such as extortion (using threat of force to get money, property, or services), impersonation for goods or services, doxing (sharing someone’s personal information), or swatting (making fake 911 claims).
When contacting your local police, keep these tips in mind:
- Call 911 immediately and try to stay calm.
- Be alert to your surroundings and try to make mental notes of what you see and hear.
- Victims of sexual violence should call 911 if in immediate danger; if not, call the local Special Victims Division.
- If you’re uncomfortable or unable to call, you can report a crime online.
Resources for Experiencers
|You are being cyber harassed and in crisis, such as experiencing severe anxiety, depression, or suicidal ideation. You need someone to talk to.
The Veterans Crisis Line is a free, confidential resource that connects you to a person specially trained to support Veterans. Care doesn’t end when the conversation is over. Responders can connect you with the resources you need.
You don’t have to be enrolled in VA benefits or health care to use the Veterans Crisis Line. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Hotline (Veterans and non-veterans) is the same phone number, but different website.
|You have been harassed or were sexually assaulted on VA property. You need to report it and get help.
|Harassment and sexual assault can happen to anyone. And it’s never your fault. If someone makes you—or another person—feel unsafe at VA, we encourage you to tell us. We’re here to support you and we’re committed to making VA a safe place for all.
|You are a woman Veteran being cyber harassed and would like to speak to someone who can help you navigate the VA.
|The Women Veterans Call Center will help you navigate the VA, point you in the right direction, and connect you with the Women Veterans Program Manager at your local VA medical center. This service is free and confidential, and you can call as many times as you need. If you are a woman Veteran you may call for yourself, or a friend, relative, or caregiver may call for you.
|You are experiencing cyber harassment related to your race or other aspects of your identity.
|Racial trauma can negatively affect physical, mental, and emotional health, and in some cases, lead to PTSD. This information may be useful for those who experience discrimination or trauma based on other aspects of identity, such as gender, sexuality, religion, etc.
|You identify with the LGBTQ+ community and are dealing with cyber harassment.
|The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) welcomes all Veterans, families, caregivers, and survivor beneficiaries, including diverse gender identities and sexual orientations. LGBTQ+ Veterans have faced stigma and discrimination, which can affect health. As a healthcare institution, we need to make sure that LGBTQ+ Veterans know that they are welcome at Veterans Health Administration (VHA).
|You are experiencing cyber harassment from a romantic partner.
|The VA’s Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program (IPVAP) is committed to helping Veterans, their partners, and VA staff who are impacted by IPV. If you, or someone you know could be experiencing and/or using IPV, help is available.
|You are a woman or have a female child dealing with cyber harassment.
|Sponsored by HHS, this site is a broad health and social services site geared toward girls' health with a strong section on cyber harassment and bullying of girls and women.
|You are experiencing cyber harassment or witnessing online abuse and identify with a group more impacted by online abuse.
|The Online Harassment Field Manual offers concrete strategies for how to defend yourself and others. The New York Community Trust and Craig Newmark Philanthropies wrote this guidance with and for those disproportionately impacted by online abuse: writers, journalists, artists, and activists who identify as women, BIPOC, and/or LGBTQIA+.