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Hiding behind the anonymity of the internet makes it easy for people to express their most primal and vitriolic opinions, abandoning all social graces and norms. Peruse any social network at any time, and you’ll see users fighting about anything from politics to sports, and video games to books, calling one another offensive and oftentimes misogynistic names when they disagree.

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A new study released by UK think tank Demos this week shows just how prevalent the social media name-calling has become—particularly when it comes to sexualized, often female-targeted terms like “slut” or “whore.” After monitoring UK Twitter users over the course of three weeks, the researchers “found 6,500 unique users were targeted by 10,000 explicitly aggressive and misogynistic tweets” using these words.

So what’s it like to have those words pop up in your mentions on a regular basis? We spoke to some women who are all too familiar.

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Soraya Chemaly, a writer and the director of the Women’s Media Center Speech Project, estimates she’s been called a slut, whore, or a related term hundreds of times since she began using social media full time in 2011. Early on, she developed mechanisms for how to cope with these hateful messages.

“I’m a compulsive blocker. The minute I see someone I know who is going to just be difficult or unpleasant, I mute them. It’s preventative in my mind,” Chemaly told me in a phone conversation. “I see their timeline, see where their conversations are heading. They’re engaging for the purposes of just being awful.”

Chemaly has received so much hatred in her time online that she even had a folder on her old computer labeled “dumb cunt” (named after the term that so many have spewed at her online.) While that computer has since gone by the wayside, and with it that folder, the name-calling lives on.

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The Demos study found that the so-called “aggressive” tweets were also being sent in large volumes by women, and Chemaly said that she’s had conservative women on Twitter pile on her, calling her a slut or whore when they've disagreed with her progressive politics.

Renee Bracey Sherman, an abortion rights activist, knows all too well what it’s like to be attacked for her politics. Bracey Sherman is open about the fact that she had an abortion, and helps to educate others and fight for their rights to legal and safe abortions. Unsurprisingly, this brings out all manner of trolls.

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“There are days I get called a ‘slut,’ ‘whore,’ and ‘baby killer’ so much that I start to believe it might actually be my middle name,” Bracey Sherman told me in an email. “The Internet was supposed to be the great equalizer among us, giving us all a space to be open and connect with others—and in many ways it is. But when I am called these names, I’m made painfully aware that it’s not a place for me as a biracial Black woman who has had an abortion.”

Jenny Kutner, a senior writer at Mic.com, has also become a target of anti-abortion trolls since she shared the story of her own abortion. She told me in an email that she gets “called a slut and a whore pretty regularly on Twitter.” But often the people calling her these names take it a step further by personally emailing her to share what they really think of her and her work, which is usually about sexuality and relationships.

“[I] get a lot of emails (mostly from men) calling me either/or [a slut or whore] and sending their best death wishes,” Kutner said. “Surely this is some sort of defense mechanism, but I've gotten very good at ignoring it.” Like Chomaly, she’ll mute and block the users “and occasionally I roll my eyes.”

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For her, the toughest part to accept is that as a feminist writer online, receiving these sorts of attacks are basically an occupational hazard. “It makes me really, really sad. It's diminishing and it's cruel,” she said.

While it never gets easier for women like Kutner, Chomaly and Bracey Sherman to be called these horrible names, they’ve all seen how easily people toss them around, which has removed some of the sting. But what about a person who’s new to this world? What do you do when harmful internet users start calling you a slut, a whore, or the like?

“Many people say ‘well, just turn your computer off or get off social media’ as a result, which isn’t helpful since many of us have to be online for our jobs or to communicate with loved ones. So the ‘just turn it off’ option isn’t always feasible,” Bracey Sherman said.

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Bracey Sherman, along with fellow activists Anita Sarkeesian and Jaclyn Friedman wrote a guide called Speak Up & Stay Safe, which advises people on how to handle internet abuse. “A person can block and report the account, and tune into their body to see how they’re feeling about it,” she advised. “Perhaps they can go get a glass of water (stay hydrated and eat during stressful situations), take a walk, watch some good TV or play a game, or call a loved one when they feel ready. We don’t realize how much the low hum of harassment impacts our lives.”

Though Chemaly feels the Demos study is imperfect and takes issue with the way the study was conducted (particularly that the circumstances in which "slut" and "whore" were used on Twitter lack context, and that she highly doubts women are just as likely as men to refer to other women as sluts in earnest), she still thinks there can never be enough conversations about the general issues raised by the study.

“If i could prioritize an issue that needs attention, it’s the ambient possibility created by this environment of sexism,” she said. “Even if a person is just seeing other women called sluts, bitches, or whores, it has an affect on the greater community…it’s really hard to overstate the effect that can have, particularly on younger women.”

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Marisa Kabas is a Sex + Life reporter based in New York City. She loves baseball, bunnies and bagels.