Nechupedia ( webpage launched as part of the “I can say no – Love is not violence!” campaign of the Autonomous Women’s Center – an online guide for recognizing cyber violence in partner relationships of secondary school students.

Over half of secondary school girls in Serbia have been exposed to online comments of a sexual nature, while almost every tenth of them experienced having their photos or videos published online by someone that they sent these materials to privately. Over half of secondary school boys were, on the other hand, exposed to online threats of physical violence, and 15% of them were faced with pressure to watch pornography or participate in acts inspired by pornography.

One third of girls says that almost all forms of cyber violence they were exposed to more than once, was perpetrated by their current or former partner. Girls, more frequently than boys say they felt helpless and scared, while boys more frequently said that being exposed to cyber violence was not a big deal to them.

Here are some examples of how girls exposed to their embarrassing photo/video being published online said they felt:

  • I felt hurt as I didn’t expect this from people who were important to me;
  • I was 13, it hurt me a lot and I felt ashamed;
  • Insecure and traumatized.

This is what boys with similar experiences said:

  • Helpless and without any support by friends or adults. Nobody took it seriously, because it’s only the internet.

This is part of the results of the survey conducted on cyber violence and youth at the end of the previous and beginning of this year by the Autonomous Women’s Center (AWC) within the multi-year campaign dedicated to secondary school girls and boys „I can say no – Love is not violence“.

Results show that over a third of youth (39% of girls and 38% of boys) were exposed to receiving unsolicited nude photographs in their inbox.

It is interesting how youth react to so-called “revenge” pornography – publishing a partner’s intimate photographs/videos without consent. When asked what they would do if they were in the position of a girl this happened to, most youth said they would end such a relationship (two thirds of girls and two fifths of boys), while a third of them would turn to their parents for help.

„Though girls show they know what unacceptable behavior is, and they show this type of violence deeply and intimately affects them, what is cause for concern is the high percentage of youth who have victim blaming attitudes. Almost a third of girls and boys say that a girl whose nude photos end up online has herself to blame for this. What we have here is a strong patriarchal belief that women are to blame for the violence they suffered, not the one who perpetrated the violence.“, AWC activist Sanja Pavlović explains.

„The results of the survey on cyber violence and youth are especially important in the current context of the pandemic and increased time youth spend online. That is why it is significant not to minimize experiences of youth and invest efforts in providing support and protection to those exposed to any form of cyber violence”, Sanja Pavlović adds.

A total of 248 youth respondents from Belgrade, Novi Sad, Pančevo, Paraćin and Prijepolje participated in the survey, and while this is not a representative sample, the findings can serve as an insight into the situation in the field and a basis for further research of the topic.

Besides presenting this survey, the “I can say no – Love is not violence!” campaign also recently included the launching of the  Nechupedia – webpage -a new online space where youth can get informed about cyber violence. In the upcoming period, Nechupedia will be updated with interactive stories, games, illustrations and video materials created for youth, so that the webpage is a useful guide to growing up and experiencing love and coping with different emotional experiences.

The “I can say no” campaign is international since last year, and joined by organizations from Croatia, Hungary and Spain. Surveys on cyber violence and youth conducted in these countries show similar tendencies in experiences and attitudes of secondary school girls and boys. Key findings of the survey, as well as useful information about being online and cyber violence is available on the Nechpedia webpage.