Virtual violence: When abuse goes digital
Sex therapist Dr Eve says anyone with a cellphone, computer or video game is at risk.
CAPE TOWN - In the spirit of 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign, the spotlight has been cast on virtual violence which can be described as abuse perpetrated through technology.
Renowned sex therapist Dr Eve says anyone who owns a cellphone, computer or video game has been exposed to virtual violence, be it through threatening messages received from a former partner or nude photos posted online without consent.
"Enough exposure to video violence through the day for kids actually causes more aggression and violence. Virtual violence is living in the violence of gaming and reacting to violence. Every one of us has got a device of some kind, therefore we are at risk of this kind of perpetration of abuse."
Dr Eve mentions that virtual violence manifests itself through numerous cases of cyber threats, bullying, the use of demeaning phrases and violent images in electronic media such as emails, social networks, blogs, text messages and mobile phones.
"It's like cyber bullying. The words are there and it hounds you."
She says men and women often create an online persona to express themselves, especially if they lack the eloquence and confidence to do so in face-to-face situations.
Some of these personas develop an often violent, aggressive and manipulative nature.
"In that freedom and the privacy of that space, the uniqueness of that space, the anonymous, affordable and accessibility of that space in the online world, this person is able to harass and abuse in the most extreme form."
However, legal mechanisms to denounce this type of abuse are few.
Invasion of privacy also exists in cyberspace and is considered an act of violence.
This occurs when someone enters a social network, blog or a virtual environment without consent and uses personal data like videos, pictures or stories.
Many times, this information is modified, stolen or published.
Dr Eve says another aspect to this form of abuse is cyber stalking.
"People have ways of finding you on Facebook, on Twitter, whatever it maybe and you become so scared that it starts impacting your personality."