Personal Online Safety

If you are in crisis, please call 911 or the Canadian Suicide Hotline (988). Visit the Crisis Contact Information webpage for additional resources for urgent support.

If you are a student who has experienced doxxing, harrassment, cyberbullying, or another form of cyberviolence, Student Support and Case Management through Student Experience can provide support and resources.


What is cyberviolence?

Cyberviolence is defined as aggressive, harmful online behaviours that target someone's physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional well-being. It can include:

  • online harassment
  • threatening
  • blackmailing
  • unwanted contact
  • stalking
  • doxxing
  • hate speech
  • non-consensual sharing of intimate images, audio, or video

Even though cyberviolence takes place online, it has real-world implications. Marginalized groups are disproportionately impacted by acts of cyberviolence, and can experience higher rates of social isolation, depression, anxiety, and stress.

Combating cyberviolence involves implementing measures to protect our community against online threats, fostering a safer digital environment where everyone can freely express themselves without fear of abuse or harm. If you have experienced cyberviolence, you are not alone and it is not your fault.

If you would like to learn more about cyberviolence and other forms of gender-based and sexual violence, visit the Gender-Based and Sexual Violence Education FAQs webpage.  

Sextortion: A Covert Threat in the Digital Age 

What is Sextortion?

A severe breach of privacy, sextortion involves coercing individuals into providing sensitive material under threat of its distribution. It's an abuse of trust and often results in emotional trauma.  

Gender-Specific Tactics

The approach to sextortion can vary by gender. A staggering 92% of sextortion victims reported to were male, particularly young adults and teens. Men are often seduced into traps set by catfishers who exploit their trust for financial gain, while women may be coerced into providing further intimate content or manipulated for power dynamics. 

The Emotional Toll

The psychological impact of sextortion is profound, with risks ranging from shame and fear to a heightened risk of suicide. It's crucial to recognize the signs and take threats seriously. Let's break the silence on this issue.

If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out to the new 9-8-8 Canadian suicide hotline or campus supports. 

Online Romance Scams

Love at First Swipe? Spotting Romance Scams

Stay cyber-smart in your quest for love. Let's unveil the signs of romance scams that could lurk behind a charming profile.  

Warning Signs: 

  • Instant Intensity: Quick confessions of love or deep connection might feel flattering, but they can be a setup for manipulation. 
  • No Show, Just Excuses: Consistent excuses to avoid meeting in person, often blaming it on university commitments or sudden travel emergencies, are a classic scammer move. 
  • Financial Sob Stories: Alarm bells should ring if an online love interest shares hard-luck stories about finances, like unexpected tuition or textbook fees, and then asks for money. 
  • Moving Off Legitimate Apps: A push to take chats off secure dating platforms to less protected channels can be a prelude to more personal scams. 

Crucial Advice: 

  • No Intimate Media: Never send intimate photos or videos to someone you haven't met in person. Share snapshots of your pet or favorite campus spot instead. 
  • Reality Check: If their story seems lifted from a fairy tale, it just might be. Use reverse image searches to verify the authenticity of their pictures.
  • Beware of Love Bombing: Intense affection and grand gestures can be overwhelming and deceptive. 

Building genuine relationships should be a journey, not a sprint. If your online connection is setting off fireworks too quickly, especially where it concerns your privacy or finances, it's time to step back. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and protect your heart and personal information!

Securing Your Digital Love Life: Smart Online Dating Practices 

  • Get to Know Them: Building trust takes time. Engage in conversations, ask questions, and be attentive to inconsistencies. 
  • Keep It Public: Stick to familiar public spots for initial meet-ups. Campus cafes or common areas can be perfect for these occasions. 
  • Peer Check-In: Involve your friends in the dating process. Getting a friend's perspective on your match could provide invaluable insight to avoid a catfish! 

Digital Defense: 

  • Privacy First: Maintain the privacy of your social profiles and be cautious with the personal info you share with new online acquaintances. 
  • Secure Communication: Use reputable dating apps with verification and reporting features and avoid moving to less secure communication channels too quickly. 
  • No Financial Aid: Never send money or financial details to someone you've only met online. Emotional manipulation for financial gain is a common tactic in scams. 
  • Mind the Camera: Be aware that video chats can be recorded and photos can be saved, even on apps like SnapChat. Keep interactions respectful and avoid doing anything you wouldn't want to be made public. 

What To Do If You’ve Been Scammed  

  • Cease Communication: Trust your instincts. If a romance feels off, it's okay to stop all communication. Your emotional safety is paramount. 
  • Report and Block: Take action by reporting suspicious profiles on the dating platform and block the user to prevent further contact. 
  • Confidential Advisors: You're not navigating this alone. Reach out for confidential advice and support. They're here to help you through this challenging time. 
  • Inform Authorities: Financial fraud is a crime. If you suspect you're a victim, promptly inform your bank and contact campus security or local law enforcement

It's tough when trust is broken, even more so when it's part of a scam. Remember, Western has resources and people ready to stand by you. From counseling services to financial advice, we're here to support your recovery and resilience. 

Cyber Safety

While eliminating cyberviolence online is difficult, there are some tools you can use to help protect yourself and your information from harm online! Cyber security best practices, like strong passwords, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and privacy controls are not just about protecting your personal information; they are important for protecting your personal safety too! 

With the rise of cyberbullying, harassment, and doxxing, your online presence can become a potential target. Make it harder for online predators to access your accounts, information, and your life. Be cyber smart with the resources found on our website and in the links below:


Published on  and maintained in Cascade.