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Bad language, swearing and use of a disrespectful tone that degrade personal dignity, reputation and/or status in society. Pictures, videos, memes and gifs can also be utilised to inflict humiliation/shame. 

Criminal charges detailing the assault, and any evidence (hard copy) must be officially filed with the police, referencing the criminal offense - in this case art. 170 of the Criminal Code. Note that the entire procedure as well as identification of the perpetrator is the responsibility of the filing party, given the designation of this criminal charge as a private offence. 

ADVICE: try not to respond to the statements/acts of libel and humiliation, as these responses could ultimately be used against you in court. 

Also, thoroughly assess the situation before initiating a court procedure, to ensure a bad joke or harsh criticism is not being claimed as offence. If the court makes this determination, the outcome can be negative for the filing party. 

If the identity of the perpetrator is known to you, you have the option of claiming damages before a civil court, although police support cannot be relied upon in this type of proceeding. A civil case can be initiated via lawsuit, and if the court finds in your favor, it results in monetary settlement.

Assessment of risk is a useful way to evaluate a potential offence - when it happened, why and from whom? For example, if you post an article on a sensitive societal issue, this tool can help with risk management, to evaluate  which groups or individuals may react negatively. It is important not to internalize  or normalize these types of offences. 

Choose a response that will help you feel safe and decrease the possibility of further harm, document  (or ask family and friends to) all acts of libel/humiliation, and learn more about digital safety, mechanisms for semi-functional protection on social media platforms.

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Because harassment comes in many shapes and forms, it can be reported as a number of different criminal offenses. 

Sexual harassment (art. 182b of the Criminal code) explicitly mentions verbal forms of assaults, but necessitates the filing of a motion to initiate criminal proceedings with the Public prosecutor. In other words, you must inform the police and the Public prosecutor - a standard procedure - as well as file a motion to initiate the proceedings. 

ADVICE: File the motion. The courts are a crucial component of protection against harassment. 

Endangering safety, one of the many consequences of harassment, under art. 138 of the Criminal Code, provides another legal basis for protection. In this case, public prosecutors and police are mandated to follow up, investigate and responsible for protection. As the filing party, you are responsible for collecting evidence needed for filing the criminal charges. This option is  especially relevant for (female) journalists.

ADVICE: Explain in detail how, why and when you feel unsafe, and detail your concern for the safety of your family and loved ones. These details could be the key to success when it comes to court proceedings.

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There is always an inherent risk that online harassment will transition to the physical world. For this reason, physical safety is a crucial precondition for any other form of meaningful protection. In terms of mental protection, sometimes it is helpful to take a break or minimize time spent on social media platforms, or those platforms of communication where you are targeted with harassment. Talking to friends, family, partners and colleagues about harassment can also be helpful in creating a system of support. 

Blocking  , filtering and reporting options on social media platforms can often serve as a helpful tool for documenting harassment. 

The DeleteMe tool can help find and remove your personal information from some websites. 

Reaching out for support professional associations and support groups is another method for dealing with harassment. 

Several investigative journalists and their networks track down perpetrators of online harassment by analysing their digital footprint. This has been an effective mechanism for not only the identification of perpetrators, but also exposing them and their crimes to public scrutiny. 

In Serbia, female journalists can find support through the initiative “Female Journalists against violence”, and dozens of other feminist organizations that offer services for individuals targeted with violence, including online.

 If you ever feel that the online violence you’re experiencing, might transition into the physical world, call the police → immediately. 

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