Cyberbullying – How to Survive Attacks
Cyberbullying (or Cyberharassment) is defined as; “the use of technology to bully a person or group with the intent to hurt them socially, psychologically or even physically*” and is happening all around us; right now.
We can stop it.
We must stop it.
Human Beings are committing suicide because of it!
We live in what I like to (personally) call, ‘The Age of Disconnection’.
It saddens me to call it that; yet everywhere I look I see people becoming more distant and lonelier due to screens, social media, and the general fast pace of modern society.
I think the internet is a remarkable and wonderous item of technology (it honestly awes me), yet it provides a glimpse into some of the nastiest and most depraved of human behaviours – cyberbullying being one of many.
No longer do we see the effect we have on another human being for the harsh words we said to them.
No longer do we see the tears stream down their face as our words sink in and hurt.
No longer can we see them walk away; hurt, defeated, and feel the pinch (or worse) of remorse that follows their retreat.
No longer do we realise the full effect of our negativity towards others as we literally cannot SEE the emotion and pain that our words are causing. This is part of the problem.
The simplest rule to follow is; ‘Don’t post or message something online that you would not say to that persons face directly’
Or better yet, ‘If you cannot say something nice, don’t say anything at all’.
It is that simple! Well, it should be….
Unfortunately, it isn’t; and therefore discussions surrounding cyberbullying are crucial and urgently required.
We have lost too many lives.
The only way to stop Cyberbullying is by discussing it, reporting it, and supporting each other throughout it.
Cyberbullying occurs in many forms, ranging from abusive or hurtful messages, emails, texts, images to imitation or exclusion online, gossip, and humiliation. There are many forms of cyberbullying. We need to start discussing it, regularly.
If you are being cyberbullied:
- Reach out to a family member, a peer, a friend immediately.
- Discuss it with people you trust, or people who have experienced a similar situation in the past.
- Create a support network (#LetsEndCyberBullyingTogether) or join one online.
Please remember; you didn’t ask for it, and you do not deserve it!
The best course of action is to not respond.
Block them (if possible) and change your privacy settings (if possible).
Most importantly: Please reach out to someone. You do not have to endure this alone.
If you are not being bullied: be aware of it, discuss it often, and support your friends and peers.
Depending on legalities and locations; there are differing methods of reporting cyberbullying.
I understand that sometimes it cannot be reported also.
A simple google search; “(your location) cyberbullying” will reveal a handful of sites and resources in your area that may assist you with reporting the issue locally.
For Australia (my locality), some helpful resources include:
*Both resources were used to assist the writing of this diary entry.
Lately, there has been a lot of (open) cyberbullying on (S)Twitter.
If you see this, report it.
You can report bullying and harassment on behalf of other people. If you are being bullied on Twitter, or you know someone who is; go to the profile of the ‘bully’ and report it through the settings option. If you have evidence of this, please attach it when asked. Then block them.
I urge you to record all cyberbullying, as evidence anyway; in case it escalates, or you change your mind about reporting it. Take screenshots of the messages before blocking them. Print emails and conversation threads. Keep these records somewhere safe – sometimes hurtful words are only the beginning of more sinister scenarios and plans sadly.
Support Each Other
Love is far more powerful than hatred.
Cyberbullies hold power because we allow their words to hurt us.
They hide behind a keyboard, in a safe (and probably warm) environment spitting their hatred into the empty space that is the internet. They are the ultimate cowards.
When we respond, we fuel the nastiness.
Do not respond.
Instead, support each other throughout these moments in each other’s lives.
Take screenshots and forward them to a friend, or trusted person to discuss. Speak to someone about how these things make you feel, then make the decision to let the bullying hold "No Power Over You – Ever!"
You are a beautiful and unique human being deserving of love – not someone’s ill directed nastiness!
Repeat after me:
“I am a beautiful human being, worthy and deserving of love. I don’t deserve this, and I will survive it.”
Say it ten times if you must. Take a deep breath, contact a loved one or trusted friend, and let their words and negativity go.
It’s not easy…
It may not help immediately, but over time it should. If not, please consider seeking the advice and assistance of a professional.
I know just how hard facing a cyberbully can be. I have personally been a victim of cyberbullying repeatedly in the past. Attacks ranging from the general nastiness (Die you Whore) to one ‘bully’ even going as far as faking my death online and scaring a lot of people I know! (That’s a story for another day though….)
You’re Doing It Wrong! - Providing the wrong kind of Support...
Supporting someone through a cyberbullying episode (for want of a better word) does not mean retaliating to the behaviour of a cyberbully on anyone’s behalf.
In a group, or alone, it is not okay to retaliate – you are just stooping to their level, and have just become a cyberbully yourself.
Report it, support your friend, and move the eff on!
Other Helpful Tips for Surviving Cyberbully Attacks
• Disconnect from your social media or switch off your phone (if possible) for a few days.
• Take time out for yourself. Spend it with friends and loved ones. Organise a massage or a pamper session if possible. Listen to music, go to the beach, have a nice evening out to dinner. Escape the online world temporarily until you feel refreshed. (Re)Connect with real human beings who love you.
• Remind yourself that you are wonderful and worthy of love and happiness. Repeat it to yourself until you believe it! Do it now.
• Exercise: This is my personal favourite method for dealing with unwanted emotions, such as the negative emotions like anger and sadness that you may experience during cyberbullying episodes. Hit the gym or go for a brisk walk – whatever your personal preference is; just make sure you are moving.
• Take the power from their words;
Bullies will attack you about your looks, personality, race, occupation, gender; the list goes on. Take the power from those words. Own the word or ignore the bully.
(This doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for me.)
When someone calls me ugly, I laugh, because they are losing the argument if they feel the need to insult another’s appearance.
When someone calls me a ‘whore’, I also laugh, because I call myself that – the word becomes powerless for me if I own it.
(Note: I don’t call other providers – or anyone - whore by the way! No one else can ever hurt me with the term if I "own" it, and this is what works for me x)
Seeking Further Help
If you are feeling depressed or anxious over a cyberbullying episode and would like to speak to a professional, services such as Lifeline and Beyond Blue (Australia) may be of assistance to you.
(Google is a fantastic tool for putting you in touch with services in your area)
For complaints and legal action, the laws differ from state to state in Australia.
You can further information regarding state laws on bullying by selecting the link posted above for the human rights page or by contacting the Australian Human Rights Commissioner.
We need to fight Cyberbullying together!
As a victim of cyberbullying myself in the past, I urge everyone to be aware of it and encourage the demise of it. Without active resistance to bullying it will continue.
• Discuss, Report and Support.
• There are professionals worldwide that can assist you with Cyberbullying and Cyberharassment - psychologically, mentally and physically.
• You are a beautiful and unique human being who does not deserve the spite and nastiness of another.
Please take care and be kind to each other,