Jess has faced cyberbullying as an adult
I am 22 so interested in showing people its not just young people receiving cyber bullying – here’s my story.
My problems with cyber bullying started when I was 21 years old, which was odd to me as I thought I had outgrown bullies. I had started going out with my boyfriend, Matt*, who had a daughter who was a few months old. The mother of his child immediately took a dislike to me, sure that I was a ‘homewrecker’ who had taken her daughter’s daddy and her boyfriend away from her, despite mine and my boyfriends’ constant statements to the contrary. The first incident happened when I was added on facebook by a boy named ‘Ollie’. At first I thought he was hitting on me so I made it clear I had a boyfriend, to which ‘Ollie’ started replying insults about my boyfriend, saying he had a baby and the reason he wasn’t seeing her was because of me. I later found out this was extremely likely to be my boyfriend’s ex, Jenna*, rather than a boy named ‘Ollie’. I blocked this profile and made my facebook private. My suspicion was basically confirmed when the same profile changed their name to ‘James K’ and I was added by this profile. Worse, ‘James’ started adding all my friends. I worried where it could go, her behaviour scared me. “Dealing with a Psychopath is NOT fun” I wrote on my twitter. I wasn’t thinking about who would be watching my profile, which as we know on twitter is very public unless you ‘protect’ your tweets.
Shortly after writing this tweet about my boyfriend’s ex, I was bombarded with three or four messages from Jenna’s friends. “You dirty rat bag ****” one started. I was shocked people still acted like this at the age of 21. I couldn’t believe people were speaking to me this way that I didn’t even know. It continued.. “How dare you call my best mate a psycho you wanna see psycho you haven’t met me yet you stay the **** away from her you even breathe by her or say her name I will have you you ugly dirty slutty **** that takes other girls fellas and men away from their baby’s..watch your back **** you’ve been warned”.
I couldn’t believe how much I’d been threatened for something I’d written on my private, personal profile. I didn’t even know how these people knew me or what I’d written. More messages followed around the same time, threatening me, insulting me, and insulting my boyfriend. They all said very nasty personal stuff about me, which always gets to me as I have very bad self-esteem. I couldn’t believe how much I was being attacked just for going out with someone. My poor boyfriend tried to help but there was nothing he could do to stop these nasty bullies.
After this, I blocked every one of them and made all my profiles private. Unfortunately, twitter does not have a great system for bullying. Twitter does NOT allow you to report people for behaviour such as bullying like facebook does, it just has a report spam option. [Twitter does have facilities to report abuse, but no “Report Abuse” button. You can find these forms in the Twitter Safety Center.] Similarly, Twitter’s block option is nowhere near as effective as Facebook’s, as a person can still see your posts and write to you. Following this, many more profiles that appeared to be fake tried to add me, as well as Jenna herself and some of her friends constantly trying to add me. When an add was attempted, I went on the person’s profile. Every time Jenna tried to add me, the tweets I would see on her page were so unbelievably nasty I could not believe it. I didn’t see how she could be so personal and so nasty about someone she barely even knew. Most of the tweets referred to me as fat, a problem I’ve had with self-esteem for pretty much all my life that she kept getting at. She would call me a hobbit, though I’d never seen being short as such an issue before, it was still hurtful. I would be called ugly, a homewrecker, a whore! I think it is disgusting for girls to call other girls such nasty things, whatever happened to female empowerment?
At this point my boyfriend was not seeing his child because he physically could not cope with his ex when she was treating me so badly. However, this made her worse and she and her friends always blamed ME for him not seeing the child, rather than the man himself. I was called so many names over twitter, including a **** which makes me feel sick. She even got my ex-boyfriend involved, who also called me a **** and said I ‘wasn’t worth it’. This also really affected me as previously I had been bullied online for many months by my ex-boyfriend, who constantly called me fat, a whale, anything you could think of. I couldn’t believe I was being cyber bullied again by MY ex who had bullied me so much previously, even though he knew how bad my issues were with my weight.
The cyber bullying I was receiving took its toll on me and my boyfriends relationship and made it really hard, as I felt if I just ended the relationship the bullying would stop, which I was desperate to happen. But I love my boyfriend and I didn’t want to give them what they wanted. My mum finally suggested going to the police.
My experience with the police was awful, to say the least. At first, we called them to explain the situation and asked if it was worth coming in to report it, as I was very cautious about wasting their time. I was assured this was harassment and I should go in and meet with an officer. When I met with the policeman, he was awful and the least helpful person I could have had. He suggested that this was just ‘girls being bitchy’ and that I should essentially either get over it, or delete my Facebook/Twitter. He believed that if it really bothered me I would just remove my profile. This is the problem with the way cyber bullying is viewed. Are we just meant to run away and give the bullies what they want? I have many friends that live far away, including family in different countries, so deleting my profiles would mean giving up contact with these family members. I didn’t think I should have to do this just because of a bully. The police officer then made things even worse by suggesting a phone call to the bully, I felt so uncomfortable I agreed even though I knew it would make things worse. All she did was refuse to believe it was a real policeman, then started shouting down the phone that I’d called her a psycho, the one thing she had to hold on to, as well as getting her mother on the phone. This was not helpful, as even Jenna’s mother and brother had joined in cyber bullying me. Her mother had gone through my pictures tagging me as ‘Fatty’ ‘Whore’ and ‘Bitch’. Her brother had commented on pictures of my boyfriend and I. I was really getting attacked from all angles and felt very uncomfortable and couldn’t believe I was being cyber bullied so much at the age of 21.
Since this experience, things just got worse, including Jenna and her friend coming up to me in person while I was shopping alone accusing me of trying to ‘meet up with Jenna to beat her up’ (anyone who knows me knows I would not be able to beat anyone up, I’ve never even punched anything/anyone, slaps are the best I can do and they’re pretty pathetic). They were shouting at me in the middle of a shop accusing me yet again of being a homewrecker. Similarly, whilst out in town, if I have ever seen Jenna or her friends, I have abuse shouted at me such as “skank.”
After quite some time passed, with Matt beginning to see his daughter after Jenna calmed down, I hoped that the bullying had ended. Jenna and I were, civil, whenever I was with Matt to pick up his child from her. We got on well enough, I even gave her a lift and tried to be nice to her. I thought my bullying situation had finally ended, but it turns out I am never ‘safe’ and something will always crop up that makes Jenna and/or her friends think its okay to bully me. I’m sure they don’t even see it as bullying, which is where half the problems lie. People don’t realise the damage they’re doing to other people and their self-esteem and general well-being. I could be the most secure, confident person in the world but if you get insulted constantly for over a year, it really takes its toll and makes you feel like crap. The most recent problem occured when I posted a picture of my boyfriend’s child online, tagging my boyfriend. “Don’t you think you should ask permission before you put pictures up of her?” I was asked by one of Jenna’s friends that I had blocked, the problem with Twitter is she could still see my post and write to me. I stuck up for myself for once, after months and months and months of trying to ignore insults. I said I had asked permission, just to the other parent. My boyfriend also stepped in and said it was his business not hers. This started a real argument, in which about three or four of Jenna’s friends got involved and started telling me to stay away from the child, that I was nothing to her, that I needed to stop living in a fairytale because my boyfriend was nasty. This broke my heart, we just can’t win; either he is seeing his daughter or he’s not and I am the one that still gets insulted and bullied for nothing.
So far, this was the most recent incedent, however it is very unfortunate that I am quite sure it’s not over. I always feel uncomfortable, thinking its only a matter of time until bullying starts up again, for example even writing this post I’m thinking I may receive backlash and bullying for it, as I don’t think people are quite aware of how far what they’re saying could go and how it could make someone feel.
I am currently facing cyber bullying by being a CYBERSMILER, making myself available to talk to for anyone being bullied.
In my own situation, I am facing it by being positive and kind, hoping that as long as I am always nice, and bite my tongue stopping myself from reacting and being rude (which I definitely have done before, I’m not pretending I’m perfect) that I will not be bullied. However, it is hard as I can’t separate myself from Jenna completely due to the fact that she has a child with my boyfriend, and I am often around to pick up that child for days she spends with my boyfriend. The way I am facing this bullying is by remembering it is not worth leaving a boyfriend who I love, and that has now extended to his daughter. I constantly make sure to reassure myself that I love my boyfriend and his daughter enough that I will put up with any backlash, hoping one day it will die down, if cyber bullies ever grow up.
However, cyber bullying is still a serious problem and I am particularly concerned with how police treat cases; especially after the situation I was put in with a police officer. I hope these laws change, although I do understand the problems. Similarly, I hope Twitter ends up tweaking its privacy policies, allowing a proper reporting system and a more successful blocking system. I hope anyone who is being cyber bullied gets help before it goes to far and really ends up hurting them the way it has me. The most important thing to do is focus on the loved ones you have around you, as that has been the best help and therapy for me that I could ever dream of.
JESS IS A #CYBERSMILER! IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO TALK, CONTACT HER ON TWITTER AT @JESSROSE91X
*Some names have been changed.