In 2011 I was bullied by a local runner and I had to learn very quickly how to protect myself and my family. The situation was resolved and the runner finally left me alone. I was told later that person has moved out of state. Was it easy? No. Was it enjoyable? Heck, no. Was I scared at times? Yes, I was! For a year I could not show up at any race by myself, and a few races I asked a registered runner to run with me. I did get the local authorities involved and they took action as they were viable threats against me and my family. I am sharing some steps with you can do to help in the event you are a victim of cyber or online bullying.
Most importantly, if you are truly being bullied (which includes threats, harassment and stalking) you have several actions that you can take to ensure your privacy and peace-of-mind. No one should feel violated or that their life is in jeopardy! True online bullying is a crime, just read the headlines.
By definition, “the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.” Please keep this in mind as you continue to read.
What is NOT bullying:
Someone disagreeing with you. Someone picking a social media fight with you is NOT bullying.
Someone calling you “fat”, “ugly, “skinny”. Picking on you because of your sexual orientation, religious beliefs and yes, even race.
Someone saying unfavorable things about you that hurts your feelings.
What bullying and harassment IS:
Someone threatening you with bodily harm, to kidnap or even murder you
Someone stalking you at your place of work or at your home
Someone emailing or contacting you obsessively (like every day or every hour)
Someone sending you postal mail obsessively
As much as we want to believe that a verbal disagreement of differences of opinion on social media is bullying, it is not. It is just an exchange of words and they are nothing more than verbal fights – UNLESS someone is threatening another person or persons.
Take screenshots of all communication you receive from the person you believe is bullying you (look at definition). Most importantly, do not respond to their messages either privately or on social media.
Remain as calm as possible, you have protection and rights!
Do get the legal authorities involved. If your local police department is unwilling to help, contact the FBI.
Contact your internet service provider for assistance.
If you are harassed on Instagram, you can report that account via the app.
If you are harassed on Facebook, you can report that account via the app or online.
If you are harassed on Twitter, you can report that account via the app or online.
Do not, and I repeat DO NOT, start talking about how many harassing messages you have received by your bullies! Misery loves company and the more you acknowledge it in a public way the more you feed their need for attention (unless you feel you need the attention to brag about the number of bullies you have and that is a different topic). It amazes me how many times I see tweets or posts stating they have X number of bullies! Who wants to talk about that?!?! That is not empowering at all. You are giving the harasser the attention they want. Stop it and don’t talk about it on social media.
Don’t share your harassers name, address, employer or any other identifying information on your social media or blogs. This is stalking (you) which is against the law and despite you being harassed, you cannot take the law into your own hands. My skin CRAWLS when I see a person outing their harasser online, for some reason they think that is empowering or might stop the harasser. No it is not, you have just created a legal drama for yourself! The law will decide if this person is harassing you and by revealing their personal information (how did you get their personal information, anyways?) you have now switched your role from victim to the criminal. I don’t think you want that, now do you? Do you want a stalking charge against you?
Here is a prime example of a popular blogger changing their role as the victim to the potential criminal. Please read this link to a FB post by Derek Murphy of MarathonInvestigation.com from 6/17/2017 exposing a popular blogger in her disclosing personal information about her alleged bully. The popular blogger has set herself up to be sued and charged with a crime and most importantly, for a woman who claims to be anti-bullying, she openly bullied this person. Shameful. Click here for the link from MI.
In conclusion, Folks, please use your head. Recognize what is bullying, protect yourself, don’t take the law into your own hands, and know that everyone disagreeing with you is not bullying you. *Remember the definition, “the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.” If you need further clarification, I recommend you speak with your local authorities.
Stay safe out there –
Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
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