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Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.

– Audre Lorde

Overwhelmed? Anxious? You’ve come to the right place.

Experiencing online harassment may make you feel unable to control your online image, ability to work, or privacy. But there is still one thing you can control: how you treat yourself. There are a number of ways to practice self-care, both big and small, that can help to counter some of the distressing effects of online abuse. Participants in PEN America’s surveys and interviews with writers and journalists across the globe were nearly unanimous in noting how invaluable it was for targets of harassment to step away from the digital realm, even briefly, to focus on their mental and physical well-being. This could mean spending time with loved ones, engaging in a favorite pastime, focusing on deep breathing, exercising, eating well, and getting a good night’s sleep. No matter the intensity of the attacks, the survey respondents felt that doing these simple things on a daily basis really helped them.

This section of the Field Manual offers ideas for practicing self-care and seeking out community during online harassment. While the resources below cannot replace the expert advice of a mental health professional, we recognize that not all journalists, human rights defenders, and writers have health coverage and/or access to such services, which is why we hope this will be a valuable place to start.

Practicing Self-Care 

Channeling Audre Lorde’s acts of self-preservation

Advice from a Psychologist 
A psychologist and former target of online harassment offers her professional advice for surviving cyber abuse

Mental Health Care and Direct Services  
For when it’s time to seek professional wellness services

Additional Wellness Resources 
Additional resources from the organizations tackling online harassment from a wellness perspective