Mum blogger Jess Bovey abused online - like most women

Wellington-based blogger Jess Bovey with 11-month-old son Baxter. Her blog, New Mum Club, has exposed her to online ...
JESS BOVEY/ SUPPLIED

Wellington-based blogger Jess Bovey with 11-month-old son Baxter. Her blog, New Mum Club, has exposed her to online abuse. "They do hurt. It is upsetting," she says of some of the comments she receives.

Almost three-quarters of Kiwi women under 30 have experienced some form of online bullying, a new survey claims.

The survey of 500 women shows threats of physical violence, death, rape and sexual assault are just some of the things they have been subjected to.

The majority of the harassment reported was of a sexual nature, with one in 10 women experiencing graphic sexual harassment, according to the survey, published by internet security company Norton by Symantec​.

Wellington mum and blogger Jess Bovey​, 29, said the figures did not come as a surprise. 

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Her blog New Mum Club documents the ups-and-downs of parenthood. Its success has earned her headlines around the world, but it has also brought her abuse. 

"I can easily say the comments don't bother me, but I am a normal person. They do hurt. It is upsetting.

"I have contemplated stopping. It has made me question if the negative outweighs the positive. I get one s... comment and I am like, is it worth it?" 

Having a team of people who could support you was a useful thing to have, Bovey said. "Since the blog has taken off, it has created a small community of mums who look after me." 

As well as finding that 72 per cent of women under 30 had suffered abuse, the survey found 52 per cent of all women it questioned had suffered some form of harassment.

One in 14 had been threatened with sexual violence or rape. In addition, one in four lesbian, bisexual and transgender women who had suffered serious harassment said their sexual orientation had been targeted. 

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RIFE WITH NEGATIVITY

Netsafe New Zealand chief executive Martin Cocker sad it was no surprise that the internet was rife with negativity. 

"The truth is, as long as there have been online spaces, people have taken seemingly more extreme views than they do in the rest of their lives. 

"There is more sexism, racism and hate online then you see publicly in real life." 

The fact that only 9 per cent of women who were bullied online reported it to someone was concerning. 

"For the people who it does bother, they are more likely to report it if they believe it will lead to a positive change.

"I suspect a lot of people who are harassed online don't report it because they don't think it will lead to any change." 

Melissa Dempsey, of Norton by Symantec, said the survey revealed the extent and nature of online abuse. 

"This survey uncovers the prevalence of harassment against women in the online world, and sheds light on the extent of the problem in our society.

"It also exposes the high emotional toll online harassment is having on New Zealand women, and brings to light the uncomfortable truth that some Kiwi women are feeling violated, abused and frightened by their online experiences."​

 - Stuff

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