Cyber Bullying: One Woman’s Story

cyber bullying story

Online bullying can start to unravel your life. Here is how one woman survived a bullying experience, and tips for how you can overcome it too.

Over the course of a few years I became friends on Twitter with a woman who I’ll call “Candace.” She was the victim of online bullies who relentlessly bothered her, threatened her, and posted things about her on other websites. Here is her story.

online bullyingMeet “Candace”

Over the course of a few years I became friends on Twitter with a woman who I’ll call “Candace.” She was the victim of online bullies who relentlessly bothered her, threatened her, and posted things about her on other websites.  Here is her story.

Candace was on Twitter for 3 months when she met a group of fans from a popular TV show; the bullying started within weeks of meeting them.  Candace says, “They berated me on Twitter, passed around information that one person had about me, and they Googled me to obtain more info, such as pictures, day of birth, family names and addresses. They even posted as my husband on Cheaters.com as if I had cheated on him and contacted my daughter and told her lies about me. The bullies also wrote blogs about me, and distorted my photographs to make me look like a cartoon character or crazy. I even received phone calls with threats and they would threaten anyone on Twitter that talked to me in order to alienate me from forming new friendships.”

I was shocked to hear about her experience.  She was harassed daily on Twitter and other forms of electronic communication.  She said the experience was emotionally horrible and left her feeling helpless at times. “There were days I thought I would die, especially after the incidents with my family. They made me question my sanity. I would cry myself to sleep most nights, but I refused to quit Twitter because that’s what they were trying to accomplish.”  She watched these bullies recruit others to bully her and turn her online followers into haters.

Over time, Candace had a small group of Twitter friends that saw the cruelty and vicious attacks and became advocates for her.  This small group within the online community began supporting her, and then they ended up becoming targets themselves.

Cyber bullying is something we often associate with young people, but it can happen to you at any age. Any time you are being perpetually insulted or stalked online by someone – be it a “friend” or a stranger – you might be considered the victim of cyber bullying. An online bully will track your Twitter posts or Facebook messages and make negative comments, repost them in a mocking way, and they might even try to reach you or your friends in the real world to cause problems for you.

cyber-bullyingBelow is some advice on handling online social bullying:

  1. Block and Ignore the Bullies:

    Avoid the interactions as much as possible so you don’t fuel the fire. Candace says she wishes she had blocked them from the beginning. While bullies may create new accounts from which to bother you, you can just keep blocking them until they get the message that you’re not going to engage.

  2. Create a New Account:

    Open a new account and do not associate with anyone in the group who was targeted you.  Candace says, “it’s a gang mentality, so staying away from groups that thrive on drama is probably the best.”

  3. Take a Break:

    The phrase “curiosity killed the cat” has such big meaning.  The more you look for their comments, the more it will hurt you.  Stop going on social media for a few days to remind yourself that there are other endeavors and things that matter in life. Don’t let yourself get so sucked into your online life that it seems like Twitter is more important than your “real life”.

  4. Report The Online Bullying:

    Report to the online service providers, the social media provider, law enforcement, and to schools (if it is school related bullying). To report to twitter, click on report abuser. Find out more information on StopBulling.gov

  5. Reach out for Help:

    Like Candace, many people can feel helpless, as if they are going crazy, and can become severely depressed.  Some people may even think about suicide.  Reach out for help as soon as you can.  Get support and advocates.  If you are in severe danger, call 911.

Online bullying can make you feel small and lower your self esteem, just like if you were to get bullied in school as a kid. Even though you can’t see the bullies because they’re hiding behind a computer, their words can still hurt and have a real impact. If you can relate to Candace’s experience in any way and think you are being bullied online, it’s important to sever the negative relationships right away.

What has your experience been with Bullying?  What else would you suggest for advice? I want to hear!

Image courtesy of freeddigitalphotos.net

About Jennine Estes, MFT

Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653

8 Responses to “Cyber Bullying: One Woman’s Story”

  1. Product19

    Wondering what are your thoughts if one targeted doesn’t take #’s 1 & 3? Is that a sign they are not a victim?

    • Jennine Estes, MFT 47653

      Hi Maureen,
      Thank you for posting. To answer your question: Not at all. The advice that I provided are tips on how to handle the harassment so it doesn’t make things worse. It isn’t a definition of whether or not a person is a victim or not.

  2. Sandra

    So I was wondering if the victims blocked and took a break, did the bullying stop? Were these steps effective in this woman’s case?

  3. Sandra

    After reading this story, I was thinking about this. I know i read another article previously about a group of transexuals plotting their revenge on a man and posting a terrible story about him on that Cheaters website. I wonder if this is the “new” form of bullying and ruining a person’s reputation online for the transexual community.

    • Jennine Estes, MFT 47653

      Hi Sandra,

      Thank you for commenting. Online bullying can come in many forms. I am not familiar with the story you mention, but the online bullying can get pretty horrific. It often comes in the form of online community bashing, photos, videos, phone calls, sharing emails/phone numbers online, encouraging strangers to join in, etc. Better yet, it can become a gang-mentality where various people encourage one another and it becomes a life of it’s own.

  4. joannie

    I actually know a counselor in NYC who specializes in bullying. She describes the exact thing you said Jennine. It takes a life of it’s own when the gang mentality gets thrown in. On facebook it is usually people you know who bully you during the day in person and then continue at night. With twitter it is often strangers who disagree with your point of view. She said many people can’t do what they need to do. The number one thing to do is get off social media for awhile. Just shut down your facebook or totally limit your friends. Twitter there is an easier solution. Change your twitter name and totally avoid the group. It just isn’t worth it and most of the time you are dealing with mental midgets. Usually it is people you don’t know nor would you associate with in real life so best to just totally avoid. If they then take it offline via phone calls and stalking you may need to report to the local authorities.

  5. Kathy

    I know a group like that on twitter, not sure if they are the same group, regardless my suggestion is basically the same, change your name or open a different account and run away from them. Ive seen what these type does and it’s cruelty beyond comprehension.