Tips to Avoid Being Sexually Harassed Online

Recently, I found myself on the receiving end of a friend request out of the blue. I was wary at first, but the person on the other end saw fit to save me some time when he told me that he had “a big dick”. Another violation of my boundary and safe space online. I’ve had encounters like this in the past (though not as extreme) that I’ve noticed a pattern to them, so I figured that I would put together a little guide to encourage others to stand up for themselves and their personal online boundary.

Keep Things in the Realm of Gaming
People who want to use gaming to date you will not keep the conversation solely to the topic at hand: gaming. This can be tricky; how can you balance being friendly and keeping up your personal boundary? I’ll leave it up to your own discretion. Just don’t let anyone coerce you into a conversation that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Don’t Mention Your Sex
This can be another tricky one if you like to play with a mic, in which case, it’s harder to hide your sex, sometimes even if you use voice masking. In general, I find it best to avoid using voice chat altogether. Please note that I use PSN, however; I’ve heard that voice chat is more prominent over Xbox Live. Most people on PSN don’t even use it. I would only use it if you’re playing with a friend or friends and they have mics.
My experience is limited as a cisgendered woman. I don’t know what it’s like if you’re trans and you get sexually harassed, considering how transpeople are fetishized by some, or if you’re sexually harassed as a man. If you have any experience in this area, please comment below if you’re comfortable doing so.
The “big dick” guy from above started off asking if I was a girl without us having any meaningful interactions prior. I was immediately wary, but gave him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t deserve. So if someone asks you your sex out of the blue, consider that a warning sign.
Don’t Mention Your Sexuality
This is just a general tip. No one has ever asked me my sexuality in the context of online gaming, but to be safe and to avoid fetishisization, keep it mum if you feel like someone is asking you for the wrong reason.
Don’t Let Them Get You Alone
People who will try to hit on you will sometimes try to get you into private matches away from you or their friends. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, don’t go with them.
R-e-s-p-e-c-t: Find Out What It Means to Me
This is a tip for you. Yes, you. Find out what it means to you to stand up for yourself and respect your own personal boundary. It can be liberating and will save you some time in the long run. If someone sends you sexual messages and they make you uncomfortable, then pull a Hideki Kamiya and block their asses.
Everyone deserves to feel safe online, especially if you use gaming as as escape. Be careful out there, and keep it cool.