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