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July 28, 2009

18

this, my friends, is no game, this is cyber-terrorism

by Andrea O'Connell

I have been so busy lately that having time to write here is pure luxury.  So, I am grateful for today…. for this moment to share what has been very much on my mind of late.  

As my friends and family know, I have met and have chatted on the Internet with a small group of women for a few months now.  Chatting is brand new to me – and what an experience it has been!  It’s been at the same time good and awful. 

The Internet chat that I am a member of is focused around the horrific but fascinating Casey Anthony case.  (If you happen to live your life in close proximity to newspaper headlines, or watch cable news, or if you are a true-crime buff – as I am – then you know that Casey Anthony is currently awaiting trial in a central Florida jail cell, having been accused of killing her 2 year old daughter.)  If you are aware of the case, then you know how wretchedly maddening, yet interesting the cast of characters in this drama are – how the stories wind and spin out of control in the media circus that it has become.  It’s very much a Shakespearean tragedy, but worse.

Anyway, on to my story, or rather, on to my letter to two women who have stalked and bullied in cyberspace a whole community of people.  I am their most recent (and thankfully, last) victim.  Telling my story will also explain part of the other victim’s stories, too.  And, chances are, when the victims read this, they may comment here and explain their horror, too.

My story is subtitled:  The Dangerous Games My Cyber-Bullies Played

These are two people who I would love to hate, but cannot.  I met these two cyber bullies, I’ll call them Judge and Jury, a few months ago in a wonderful and fun Internet chat community.

I grew to enjoy Judge and Jury a great deal – we had many laughs – as in LOL, LMAO, or ROTFLMAO!  Well, our conversations were, for a good while, stimulating and interesting, fun and silly, smart and, at times, drama-filled, but generally filled with a lot of laughter. 

And then…oh so slowly, almost without perception, signs of jealousy and sophomoric behavior crept in.  Ugly back-biting began to erupt and became the norm, which caused Judge and Jury to attack other chatters with a warlike vengeance.  Soon they began to plot “attacks” against other chatters.  They punished the “treason” of other chatters via what they called thier “Pearl Harbor Attacks” (against other chatters).  In the Pearl Harbor attacks, Judge and Jury would “post” dozens of screen shots (JPG pictures) that were distasteful and/or embarrassing to the victim of thier attack.  

And, after one or two of these episodes, I began (oh so slowly) to see the vicious intent behind the games.  And then, shortly thereafter,  I was looking down the lens of their cannon… they were gunning for me with a vengeance so evil it is disturbing.  (PS…You will have to suspend your disbelief while reading this odd tale.)  

Judge and Jury threatened my employment, threatened me, and laughed at the thought of my dying, or loosing my job.  They constantly discussed my “sick blog writing”, they accused me of being gay, and so many more terrible and hateful musings.   And, irony of ironies, one of the cyber-bullies claims to be a Mental Health Professional.  (Reminder as you continue reading – these two women are in their late forties, early fifties.)  So, here is my letter to them – which I will never send.  

The Letter:

Dear Judge and Jury:

I am writing this to put a stop to any retaliation thoughts that you two may try to hatch.   I saw the disgusting and sick things you wrote, and frankly, it is unconscionable that someone your age, in your profession, should be behaving in this cruel and evil fashion.

The conversations that I witnessed literally made me sick to my stomach.  And, so I am saying this with all honesty: if you attempt to retaliate against me or anyone of the chatters, I will take action, as chat archives can be accessed via subpoena; surely you would not want those evil writings to be made public? 

You see, I found your writings thanks to your persistent visits to my blog.  Because my blog reveals the URL of your chat room, I simply had to click the URL to see for myself your sick collection of screen shots, your vile emails, your persistent and perverse cyber-bullying tactics, and your devious stalking of me.

I saw evidence of your delight in the suffering of others.  How you relished and celebrated thoughts about what could be occurring related to my health.  This is paraphrased, but I actually saw you both engage in this conversation about me – wondering if you’d hear from me via email, you said:

“I wonder will she email us, do you think?  Nah, we’ll probably get an email from her brother saying she’s dead – her brother will contact us that she’s dead and will ask us: ‘are you the friends that Andrea spoke so dearly of…ha ha ha!”  “Yeah, she’ll die with a death-grip on her little dog; she’ll be all swollen and teary, hugging her damn dog with a death grip.”

I saw you discuss my employment; you had my employer’s website and other sites and items related to me in your room and how you’d love to get me fired from my job! And you wished you’d gain access to my LinkedIn account to “mess it up”. 

And, I saw you write the following in regards to another chatter, who’s picture you stole, and wrote foul things upon.  You said about this chatter:

“She’s so f-ugly.  Pull up her picture – let’s write this:  AM I A MAN OR A WOMAN?  LOL.  She will have a sh*t-fit, and I will love it. She has no f*ckin idea we have her picture.  When she sees it, I hope it makes her cry. I will laugh as she cries….ahhh, she’s cryin’ I’ll be laughing that she’s crying.”

When you finished writing your hate on her picture, and showing the picture in the Internet chat room, you said this: “Man, we rocked it!” “Well, hell, this was fun.” 

I saw the months and month’s worth of screen shots and evil writings that you two had shared.  I had no idea that you were playing such sick games, and for such a long time.  I was amazed at how you two relished and delighted in the suffering of others.  You celebrated my health problems…you laughed and mused at my death!   You laughed that I would die with a death-grip around my dog.  How could you think, much less SAY/WRITE such things?

Where is your compassion?  Where is your humanity?  Where is your honesty?  How could you be so cruel?  Why would you engage in such behavior?

I am not so naïve to hope for an apology or to fanaticize that you are recalcitrant and see the error of your ways… I would hope… but I know better.

I do feel sorry for you. I am very sorry that you chose the path of hate and evil as I know that somewhere in your heart there is kindness, and I will continue to pray for you. 

Lastly, despite your hatred of me, despite everything, I do forgive you, and I honestly wish you peace, and I hope that, as you move on in life, some measure of humanity and kindness will gracefully soften your heart and lighten the guilt that I, quite frankly, hope that you feel.   

Still with sadness,

Andrea

Post Script:  Judge and Jury have been shut out of the Internet chat community – FOR GOOD!  ♫♥♫♥♫

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18 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hilde
    Jul 29 2009

    Andrea, the only thing I can say about Your Letter is,
    I am so sorry You had to go through All of that.
    No One deserves to be treated like that!
    I have encountered a few not so nice Responses to some of
    my Comments. It might hurt my Feelings somewhat at the same time I considered the Source, also I know what kind of Person I am and those People really don’t know me at all, so that was the End of that for me.
    I choose to surround myself with good and healthy in Mind People who treat me with Respect which I deserve, the mean spirited People I ignore or stay away from all together.
    Some times it takes a little time to figure these People out.
    When it comes to personal Attacks or invading Your Privacy
    that is just wrong and also illegal. JMO
    Again, I am sorry for what You have went through.
    It takes All kinds of People in this World.
    There are some good and decent People which blog here, I
    been lucky to have met some of them here.

    Reply
    • Andrea
      Jul 29 2009

      Hilde, I thank you for your comments and your sympathy, too. I think that folks really believe they can be as evil and mean spirited as they like from behind thier computers. It must be like disassociating, completely feeling a sense of detachment as a result of the absense of the close human-to-human spacial contact. Perhaps those who bully others via the Internet, are in real life callous and insecure; probably completely lacking empathy, and surely lacking compassion!

      I have learned so much about life and about people as a result of this experience. I am now constantly reminded to simply move on and move away at the first notion of negativity.

      It’s funny, in my daily relationships and friendships I am pretty successful at avioding the negative types… but, on the Internet, it’s a whole different game and you have to be soooo careful of who you trust.

      I also wanted to clarify…the cyber-bullies were not bloggers, they were chatters on an Internet chat room…. The folks that I’ve encountered and met via this and other blogs, have been very decent folks! ☺

      Thank you again, Hilde.

      Andrea

      Reply
  2. johninflorida
    Jul 29 2009

    Be prepared to lock your comments as I as well as others have been attacked. I have stated in my blogs that there are no Internet police and really there is not. However there is something maybe better and that is a civil law suit. That may seem extreme but it’s not, it’s being done every day and becoming more and more frequent. People think they can hide behind anonymity by using fake IP address and names but when the lawyers hire the experts to break through them they can. It is not easy but not impossible and then the lawsuit allows the attorney’s to request police to get the name from the person’s server. This all cost money but when more than one is attacked a class action suit can be formed. I am a lucky one as my best friend is an attorney and it has become a challenge for him being a sort of cyber nut, we work together.

    To the people who want to become bullies, trolls and threaten and slander people, your time is coming as the laws are favoring the victims more and more. We all have information on the net, public or otherwise. Reproducing what is there already is legal so long as copyrights are not violated. Reproducing it in a way to slander you or to distort photos of you in a slanderous way is something you would probably win in a civil court. Just what is said to you can result in a civil case and there are more and more lawyers wanting to take on these cases.

    I look foreword to the day the bullies receive that letter stating that they are being sued. No they will not end up in jail with Casey but could lose their savings, house, job, car and who knows what else just because they wish to be bold on the Internet. They should really start thinking about who may go back after them and what they will have to pay for what they have done. Remember, you may think you can hide but you can’t.

    Reply
    • Andrea
      Jul 29 2009

      John! What a nice suprise to see your comments as I have been a huge fan of your work for quite some time. I have gotten quite a few chuckles from your funny, funny Anthony case graphics, and have very much enjoyed reading your blog for quite some time.

      Your comments made my day! I hope that many people will read what you’ve written while breathing a huge sigh of relief, as I did. I am thankful that laws are being enforced to protect people like you, me, and my chat room friends. Isn’t it amazing that grown human beings could behave like this? It is beyond confounding.

      It sounds like you have seen your fair share of bullies and troll behavior, too. I am so sorry to hear that; but glad that you are now wise to the antics and are educated with regards to the law and your rights.

      This is serious business, this cyber-bullying. Remember the Megan Meier case? The sixteen year old who, allegedly, was bullied by a mother of one of her friends posing as a potential boyfriend. Apparently Megan fell in love with the relationship and when the “boy” began to rebuke and demean her, little Megan’s heart was so broken she took her own life. Dear Megan paid the ultimate price.

      Thank you again, John for your comments and advice….

      All the best,
      Andrea

      Reply
  3. starfish
    Jul 29 2009

    Good post Andrea!
    I must say you pretty much hit the nail on the head with your story of judge and jury.

    I was bullied by judge and jury as well, you see I have a copy of the picture that judge and jury took of a myspace message they sent me.
    Stupid slip up on there part to take a pic of the very message they sent me showing there own account information on it.

    In the message they sent me they hope that me and my family die of cancer.

    Is this a death threat?
    Probably not, but it is the sign of a person with some deep seeded emotional issues….
    Scary to think one of these people might be a mental health therapist.
    I feel bad for the person who has the misfortune to be a client of such an evil person!

    Judge and Jury are very sick puppies and Karma is a Biotch!

    Reply
    • Andrea
      Jul 29 2009

      Star,
      Thank you for your comments; your experience is sickly similar to mine but in a sense it is much worse because some of the worst threats against me were veiled and more secretive, though some were very public and humiliating. The fact is, what you are referring to is in-human at best, criminal at worst. Like John in Florida pointed out earlier, the kinds of threats they made to us, and others, would not put them in jail, but could bankrupt them in a civil court, (if we were so inclined toward justice and wanted to pursue the matter).

      I am so sorry that we all had to suffer at thier hands. It’s difficult to fathom; very unreal, very sick.

      As you pointed out, the “cancer” wish to you may not be an actual “death” threat, but it is cruel, wicked, and maybe even unlawful.

      All the best, my friend,
      Andrea

      Reply
  4. johninflorida
    Jul 29 2009

    Andrea, thank you for your kind comments. If you have their IP addresses and you would like me to see if my buddies and I can zoom in on who they are, just send them to me. Nothing more that locating people like that makes me happy. Hmmmmm, do I have them already, maybe?

    BTW, for a lot of these idiots just entering into a law suit will break their bank, well worth it. What I tell these people is that you attack me and I’m going to bite your leg and will never let go, I’m your Pit Bull forever. I am retired and can spend 16 hours a day finding you plus I have some real nice help to do that.

    Reply
    • Andrea
      Jul 29 2009

      John,

      Man oh man….I will surely try to adopt that Pit Bull Fever, too!

      If these two numbskull cyber-bullies try to retaliate against me or others, I will absolutely be able to locate thier IP addresses – that shouldn’t be a problem. My hope is, they will go off into thier own dark and foggy sunset, leaving all of thier victims behind – leaving us alone for good. (And there are quite a few victims.)

      One victim just left a message here and described how she recieved a MySpace, or FaceBook message from Judge and Jury saying the following: “I hope YOUR CHILDREN GET CANCER! Better yet…YOU get it too!!!”

      Charming, isn’t it?

      There was more to the message, but no need to repeat it here, I’m sure you get the gist.

      Why would people say such things? Why would we be so cruel to one another? Now I know why Pit Bulls are required!

      Thanks so very much, John.

      Andrea

      Reply
  5. halfpint42592
    Jul 30 2009

    Hi Andrea: I see some of my favorite bloggers and commenters have already posted! Hi John and Hilde!

    Unfortunately there are those in life who feel they have to right to intimidate and threaten others. If your opinion is not one that they agree with they will spend hours a day going from blog to blog posting the same comments. We’ve had a couple here that I think hit just about everyone on my blogroll alone. However, when you no longer respond to them they eventually go away. Well really John is responsible for the most part that they are no longer here:) (thanks John)

    Do not allow people like this to rent space in your mind. They will get tired and move on. When you mentioned the “Megan” case, I was infuriated all over again. That mother is not qualified to raise children. I love my children and have a fierce nature to protect them at any cost, however to go to the extent that mother did is bordering on psychosis. To know she caused a child to take her own life is bad enough, to know she got away with it is worse. I don’t think I could live with myself if I knew I impacted someone so terribly that they saw no other way than to take their own life. Unfortunately the internet is the new way for the school bully to torment their victims. How sad that in this case an adult that had the power to stop it only fed it. Not only is she responsible for taking a childs life, she is also responsible for her child thinking that behavior like this is okay.

    Okay before I get to rambling:) I’m glad that they have moved on and I hope that you will find a warmer welcome here…

    Reply
    • Andrea
      Jul 30 2009

      Hi HalfPint!

      Thank you for your fantastic comments…. you are so right when you say “Do not allow people like this to rent space in your mind.” I must remember that… it is a good mantra for me. I will keep it stuck to my memory, and my computer monitor to remind me that life is too short to allow these kinds of people to upset and intimidate us. And, I agree with you… when they are ignored, they find other places (playgrounds) and people to torture.

      I don’t understand the cruelty, really I don’t. I don’t know if I’ll ever understand it. I think they love the attention – it’s like a power trip – and the more we respond, it feeds thier power and fuels them to get more aggressive. It’s thier outlet – thier stage to strut and preen and act holier than thou. I think the cyber-bully just craves the audience attention, and like you say, if we remove ourselves from the audience, their stage will disappear, too! Has to be some kind of psychosis, especially in the case of the mother in the Megan Meier case. I can’t even imagine how that “mother” lives today in her own mind knowing she had a hand in that poor child’s death – how does she live with herself??

      I was suprised to hear that the bullies attack on WordPress, too – I guess I am naive, thinking that this is too dignified a setting for the horrible bullies to play or congregate in…. but, I guess no where is safe.

      My experience with the harassment came in an internet chat room. These two bullies successfully intimidated and directly harassed about ten or more people. Now that they are gone, and thier stage (thier chat rooms) has turned to dust and memory, the atmosphere in the Casey Anthony chat rooms is a much safer one for all of us to enjoy.

      I just found this resource on cyber bullying – they appear to be doing some good work: http://wiredsafety.org/

      Thank you again! Do you have a blog here? I’d love to visit.

      Best,
      Andrea

      Reply
  6. debbie
    Jul 30 2009

    Wow …I am so grateful to have met Andrea thru all this torture. I too was tortured, not as much as my other good friends in the chat room, but enough to know that Judge and Jury are very twisted people. The end result to their harrassment of such good people though, has backfired, we became a force, a great team to be reckoned with!! To Andrea…..I hope to get to know you even better in the months to come while waiting for our trial to start (Casey Anthony that is)….I am so glad we found each other and can still trust that there are still “GOOD’ people out there!!
    They didnt win….they couldnt take that from us and that I think is the best revenge!! To John in Florida..I too have enjoyed your many comical skits of the Anthony family..and now will take on that PIT BULL attitude as well!!
    For now we will leave our “antennas” up though and take a wait and see attitude. If we are attacked again..we are so much better prepared to take them to a court and bankrupt them…and that my dear TWISTED NON CHATTERS…Judge and Jury is a FACT!!!!! I cant believe we let you have the power to do and plot and say so many hateful things that you actually followed through on!! You may have hurt us once…but never twice..that is my new motto. You cant hide anymore. We have the goods on you and we ARE a force to be reckoned with. To all my great and true friends I have met here I wish peace from this day forward!!!!!!!

    Reply
    • Andrea
      Jul 30 2009

      Debbie,
      I am so greateful to have met you, too. It’s true that good triumphs over evil, and gives us some very nice gifts along the way, too. You’re right, a huge burden has been lifted now for us, and together we are a great force for kindness, respect, honesty, and fun! And, in the process, we’ll learn so much, and grow thicker skins so that people like Judge and Jury will not be able to ever hurt us again. HalfPint said: “Do not allow people like this to rent space in your mind.” A good lesson, indeed. I’ll remember that, we all should, so we can be sure not to be fooled again!

      And, I’m creating a Pit Bull mindset, too. I’m tucking my Pit Bull face in my back pocket should the “uglies” come a-callin’ to bother us again – I’ll bite down ohhh so tightly! (Beware of the Dog – my new motto!!!)

      Love and Peace, Debbo!
      Andrea

      Reply
  7. halfpint42592
    Aug 1 2009

    Good Morning Andrea:

    My thought on cyber bullies is that they are weak people out in the real world and therefore they hide behind a computer and take pleasure in having power over someone as they most likely are some type of a wuss in their everyday life.
    I do have a blog on here and welcome you to visit. I also have a great list of other bloggers on the right hand side of my column that have a lot of great things to say.
    Here is my blog and welcome !http://halfpint42592.wordpress.com/

    Reply
    • Andrea
      Aug 2 2009

      Hi Halfpint,

      Thank you for your reply…and the link to your blog! I just figured out how to create a blogroll, and have added your blog as a link. :p

      I tend to agree with you about the character of cyber-bully… It is cowardly to attack and run like they do, so it must be that wreaking havoc behind a computer gives them a sense of dominion over others that is addictive to them, perhaps…. very maddening and very sad.
      Andrea

      Reply
  8. Jill from Western Australia
    Aug 3 2009

    Hello Andrea…thankyou for such an informative article. I have seen some of the disgusting attacks on several sites…fortunately they seem to be abating.

    Many thanks for all your hard work John…I truly hope some of these cyber-terrorists will get their cumuppance!

    Waving “hi” to Hilde, Starfish, Halfpint and John who I have had the pleasure of chatting with before…and saying “hello” to Debbie and of course you Andrea.

    Cheers from over the pond 😆

    Reply
    • Andrea
      Aug 3 2009

      Jill!

      Here’s a big wave o’er the pond to you, too!

      Thank you for your comments … I agree…. it be wonderful if they got thier cumuppance (I love that word!) thrown right back at them so they could taste the bitterness of thier own medicine! And it tastes really sour, too.

      I do hope you are right and we’ll begin to see less and less of this behavior.

      Cheerio!
      Andrea

      Reply
  9. Sweet Sue
    Aug 8 2009

    Andrea,
    This was a excellent but very sad piece that you’ve written.

    The real sadness is the fact that I know what you are saying is true. I was a victum of these two, too. I am really happy that the chat room banned them for life.

    I remember that day when they wrote the nasty things on one of the members avatars because I contacted the chatroom company and told the owner that it had to STOP. If they didn’t stop the actions of Judge and Jury, then the company was complicit in allowing its members to harrass and cyber bully others. Judge and Jury were wicked in what they did; I am really happy that I played a large part in having them banned for good, and I am really happy that the chat room company stands on principles and will not allow this to continue, for the sake of our safety and our freedom.

    I don’t want to use my real name here because if Judge and Jury knew it was me, they would retaliate against me again, as they have done to so many others.

    You know who I am though, Andrea, and others who were victimized against Judge and Jury know me, too.

    Thank you Andrea

    Sweet Sue (not my real name)

    Reply
    • Andrea
      Aug 8 2009

      Hi Sweet Sue,

      Thank you for your comments.

      You used the name of the chat room company in your comments, and I chose to edit and veil (the name of the company) because it was not thier fault that two members – Judge and Jury – were deviants. (I just don’t want to give the chat room community any bad publicity because they don’t deserve it.)

      I think that we have seen the last of Judge and Jury, at least I hope so. The fact is, there are no guarantees because we have no Internet Police, instead we have wicked and mean folks who know how to change their IP’s and get around bans. So, don’t feel too secure because bullies like these two never give up, they just find new victims. If they return to try to harm us, we can only hope that the owners of the chat room company will ban them once again, and keep banning them until Judge and Jury are tired of the game.

      Let’s hope this is not the case and we can enjoy each other’s thoughts, views, and opinions in a safe, fun, and peaceful place.

      All the best… Chat with you soon!

      Andrea

      Reply

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