Redefining Cyber Sexual Violence Against Emerging Young Women: Toward Conceptual Clarity

  • Soheila Pashang
  • Jennifer Clarke
  • Nazilla Khanlou
  • Katie Degendorfer
Part of the Advances in Mental Health and Addiction book series (AMHA)



In the last decade, the rise of technological advancement as a popular mode of socialization has extended gender violence to a new dimension. As a result, emerging young women (age 19–29) negotiate the digital world both as a site of empowerment and a source of sexual repression. Cyber gender violence crosses both local and global divides and leaves permanent public memory of shaming and humiliation on the emerging young women (EYW). This chapter takes a gender-based transformative health promotion and intersectionality approaches to review the existing literature on cyber sexual violence (Cyber-SV) and its potential mental health implications on the EYW in Canada.

Main Argument

Over the last two decades, the aptitude of cyber socialization has extended from breaking social isolation to engaging within local and global contexts. However, as a discourse, cyber socialization has a dark side against certain populations on the basis of gender, race, class, age, and sexual orientation. Among them are the EYW who experience higher incidents of gender victimization. Presently, various disciplines use different terms to refer to cyber-crimes generally, and Cyber-SV against the EYW specifically. These definitional inconsistencies equally affect our knowledge and understanding of the scope of the problem, as well as the theoretical and methodological approaches informing law, policy, and practice.


Cyber sexual violence (Cyber-SV) leaves permanent trauma and public memory of shaming and blaming that can lead to internalization of trauma and mental health challenges from self-inflicted harm behaviors as an option to cope with trauma, or suicide as the only remedy to end such trauma. Current reports further point to other psychological trauma and distress such as anxiety, depression due to the fears of shaming, humiliation, harassment, and stigma associated with Cyber-SV.


We make the following three recommendations. The first recommendation is public education among the EYW, schools, and academic institutions, parents, and community members. The second recommendation is to address the mental health needs of the EYW. The third recommendation is to address the gap in the Canadian criminal law, law enforcement, and provincial law. We believe that governments around the world must commit to working together to better manage this largely unregulated cyber terrain, and challenge the ways in which it is perpetuating gender inequality, and gender-based violence.


Cyber sexual violence Emerging young women Cyber shaming Gender-Based violence 



The authors would like to acknowledge: Women’s College Hospital, Women’s Xchange $15K Challenge for funding “Cyber Sexual Violence Against Emerging Young Women” Research Project.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Soheila Pashang
    • 1
  • Jennifer Clarke
    • 2
  • Nazilla Khanlou
    • 3
  • Katie Degendorfer
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Social and Community Services, Humber CollegeTorontoCanada
  2. 2.School of Social WorkRyerson UniversityTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Faculty of HealthYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  4. 4.University of OttawaOttawaCanada

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