Helplines Welcome Visiting Researcher

The Revenge Porn Helpline and the Professionals Online Safety Helpline are both vital points of call for those dealing with online abuse, whether that be adults who have had their intimate images shared or professionals safeguarding young people.

In the years since they have been established, the RP and POSH helplines have, together, answered thousands of calls and emails. Whilst, in this time, the helpline workers have become experts in everything online safety, some ‘big picture’ questions remain, particularly surrounding the way in which these two services overlap.

For example, what are the most common types of issues dealt with by each helpline?

Do these issues differ between the RP and POSH helplines or are they the same?

In addition to this, how do these issues impact those who phone the helplines? What do victims and those working on their behalf say about the experience of discovering, dealing with and moving on from online abuse?

Again, how are these experiences different for those who phone the RP helpline versus those who contact POSH?

Finally, and more broadly, what does all this tell us about the complexity of online life across the age-span?

I am a PhD researcher from the University of Exeter and, over the next 3 months, I will be working with the POSH and RP teams. I am a digital sociologist, trained in qualitative methods, and I specialise in studying some of the more harmful aspects of online social behaviour. During my time at SWGfL, I will be comparing the qualitative data collected by the POSH and RP helplines; my aim is to look beyond the statistics and answer the questions posed above.

Watch this space for results!

Elena Sharratt

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