It was in June of 2009 that I experienced, for the first time, what it was like to sort of slip, without realizing it, into a Matrix-like, other worldly third dimension replete with bullies, bullets and bytes that pierced my unsuspecting soul.
When I was under attack, it felt like I was plummeting down that proverbial rabbit hole. A rabbit hole without a bottom. Spinning and spinning and reeling from these written attacks via email and in a chatroom about the Casey Anthony case.
My bullies were a group of women who I didn’t know, but who I chatted with on the Internet about the Casey Anthony case. They grew slowly to be so vile and ugly. So devious and prank-ish with a clear intent to hurt me – actual death threats against me and others – using childish pranks and curse words the likes of which you just don’t hear in polite society.
And now, over a year later, they are back taunting me again.
They’ve been emailing me threats, posting cruel and viscous taunts here on my blog. It’s so startling to see; so ugly, so utterly without grace that they do this. I find it difficult to grasp how they live with themselves.
I wrote a story about my experience with these bullies in a posting in 2009. For a bit of history on this story, please read my post titled “This my friends is no game, this is cyber-terrorism.”
In that story, I referred to them as “Judge and Jury.” Their first names (I think) are Debbie and Trish. And, sadly, they have a new devotee bully named Marie. Marie was once a target of theirs. They attacked her with such a vengeance once upon a time. But clearly she’s forgotten that now. Now, Marie has joined their platoon and is a fierce bullier herself. She is just as cruel and vile as they are, if not more so.
These particular bullies have threatened that if I so much as DARE to mention them again here on this blog, they will retaliate against me and cause me so much harm that I won’t know what hit me. Hah! I am not in the least bit scared of these blowhards.
Yes, these woman who have called me names, have written vile hyperbole on my blog, which I won’t repeat here – gutter talk that only people without consciousness would write…. These women call themselves “well adjusted!” Now, I thought that was actually quite funny! Between the threats, the sophomoric curse words, and the taunts, one bully told me how well adjusted she was! Isn’t it rich?
But, seriously, they are cruel. Demeaning me for having an education (they have none); calling me a stupid a__wipe. Discussing the fact that because I have never married, I am a sick Lesbian (I am not – but I am single), a spinster who should join a lonely hearts club. They claim I am psychotic and they have decided my mother did a piss-poor job raising me. Oh there’s more gross talk; it’s just too ugly to repeat.
A Definition of Cyberbullying
So how do people cyber-bully? In this digital age, it is easy to get your hands on the tools of the trade. The venues include: Internet chat, Internet sites like MySpace or Facebook, text messaging or any type of technology to deliberately demean, harass, frighten or threaten harm to another person. The reason it’s so insidious is due to it being anonymous.
The Cyberbully Personality
Bully’s believe that because they sit behind a computer monitor they are safe and can spew as much hate as they can muster. Cyberbullies seek out prey that appear weak or vulnerable to them.
The most bizarre thing about most cyberbullies, they will turn off their computers and turn into normal people who go about their business without a care in the world.
Cyberbullies come in all shapes and sizes. They are young, old, educated, uneducated, smart and bold. They are out there and they are dangerous, especially to young people.
Recent cases in the news
You may remember the recent cyberbullying incident at Rutgers University in which a student committed suicide after classmates supposedly filmed him engaging in a gay sexual activity. A bright eyed, intelligent Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington bridge as a result of the taunts and the pressure that these bullies imposed.
And there’s the case of Megan Meier, the pretty young Missouri teen who chatted via the internet with a mother of one of her friends, all the while thinking it was a boy she adored. When the “boy” turned on her, Megan, so distraught, killed herself.
Sadly, there are hundreds of stories out there about teen suicides resulting from both bullying and cyberbullying. It is a serious, serious problem.
And, it’s a tough crime to solve. Slick, Internet savvy bully’s can hide their identity with no problem. But, here on WordPress, it’s not so easy for the bully.
WordPress captures the I.P. Address of the poster. The I.P. address is your internet fingerprint, traceable back to you. Now, it’s not that easy, mind you, and it’s very expensive to trace an I.P. address, but I’m told that lawyers, FBI and local police have a way of connecting an I.P. address to an individual.
I do take some comfort in knowing that I need only to bring these posts and I.P. addresses to the authorities, if needed.
I will do it, too. That’s not a threat either. It’s just a promise I’ve made to myself.
The article above (link) includes excellent advice for those of us who are or who have been victims of cyber bullies.
The video below pertains to young people, who are the most targeted group. Adults bully too – sometimes relentlessly. More on this topic to come.
I apologize for having to place your comments in the moderation Que. It is due to this site receiving some nasty comments recently. Until these cyber-stalkers tire, I will monitor all comments. However, your comment will stay in moderation for only a few short minutes. (Argh, bullies! When will they grow up?)
When considering the phenomenon of adult bullying (in cyber-space, at the workplace, or anyplace) an image and metaphor that aptly describes the experience is the scene from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, in which Alice floats and spins down the long and meandering tunnel of the White Rabbit’s obscure rabbit hole.
Although Alice’s rabbit hole was both whimsical and surreal in that fictional portrayal, today, the reality and the terror of such a plunge is very real.
The world is no fantasy for the target (i.e. victim) of bullying. There is emotional violence at play. Yes, it’s violent behavior.
The reality for the victim of bullying is persistent emotional aggression that is aimed directly and persistently at them. Self respect can go right down the proverbial rabbit hole when it happens.
Down, down, down. Would the fall ever come to an end?” (Carroll, 1865)
Borrowing an Alice in Wonderland metaphor, when a target is under siege and gets swooped into a rabbit hole of bullying by aggressors, they begin an implausible and impossible decent into a cold reality that is similar to a prisoner held in a land of lawlessness. Similarly, authors Tracy, Lutgen-Sanvik, & Alberts, in their Nightmares, Demons, and Slaves: Exploring the Painful Metaphors of Workplace Bullying, present an exhaustive study that illustrates how targets of workplace abuse use various metaphorical frameworks to describe the pain and the hurt of their workplace bullying experience:
…battle, water torture, nightmare, or noxious substance. Abused workers frame bullies as narcissistic dictators, two-faced actors, and devil figures. Employees targeted with workplace bullying liken themselves to vulnerable children, slaves, prisoners, animals, and heartbroken lovers” (Tracy, et al, 2006).
Such metaphors serve to describe the extreme psychological pain felt by the victim.
…Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well. (Carroll, 1865)
Workplace Bullying has grown pervasive in the 21st century. The evidence suggests that bullying robs targets (i.e. victims) of dignity, and employers of productivity, and has grown as pervasive as sexual harassment. (Davenport, Schwartz, & Elliot, 2002, Namie & Namie, 2007, Daniel, 2006)
Authors Tracy, Alberts, and Rivera, in association with Arizona State University, for the Arizona Board of Regents, provide a self-help article for victims of bullying to help emotionally devastated victims tell their story so it is cohesive and expressed as an unemotional narrative. (Tracy, et al, 2007)
In How to Bust the Office Bully: Eight Tactics for Explaining Workplace Abuse to Decision-Makers (2007), Tracy, et al., explain that, because of the emotional and painful nature of the trauma, targets of bullying face a bigger challenge when they attempt to explain their plight.
Victims who have descended into a state of emotional despair and have difficulty expressing their story without becoming emotional, are less likely to be credible to a Human Resources (HR) group. As it is commonly seen in today’s academic literature, the fact is that very frequently targets who tell their stories are often deemed “petty…a problem employee” and often end up holding the blame (Tracy, et al, 2007), and descending further into the rabbit hole of despair.
I wish I hadn’t cried so much!’ said Alice, as she swam about, trying to find her way out. `I shall be punished for it now, I suppose, by being drowned in my own tears! (Carroll, 1865)
In their popular text, The Bully at Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job, Drs. Gary and Ruth Namie, founders of the Workplace Bullying Institute , and pioneers in the grassroots awareness campaign about bullying, provide a widely quoted definition of bullying:
Bullying….. is the repeated, malicious, health-endangering mistreatment of one employee (the Target) by one or more employees (the bully, bullies). The mistreatment is psychological violence, a mix of verbal and strategic assaults to prevent the Target from performing work well. It is illegitimate conduct in that it prevents work getting done. Thus, an employer’s legitimate business interests are not met (Namie & Namie, 2003).
A chief difference between targets and bullies is the result of a dichotomy between cooperation and control. For the bully, there is a need and desire for total control. Control is the foundation of all bullying. The bully’s deliberate and insidious methods to hamper the Target’s ability to succeed in either word or deed, are typical examples of a need for control resulting in aggression.
…for it might end, you know,” said Alice to herself, “in my going out altogether, like a candle…” And she tried to fancy what the flame of a candle looks like after the candle is blown out… (Carroll, 1865)
An insidious offshoot of the bullying phenomenon is called mobbing, or bullying by a group, which refers to how, either purposely or in ignorance, the target (of the bullying) is driven from the workplace by more than one person. This is also a phenomenon that has caught on via the internet.
Psychological terror or mobbing in working life involves hostile and unethical communication which is directed in a systematic manner by one or more individuals, mainly toward one individual, who, due to mobbing, is pushed into a helpless and defenseless position and held there by means of continuing mobbing activities. These actions occur on a very frequent basis (statistical definition: at least once a week) and over a long period of time (statistical definition: at least six months’ duration). Because of the high frequency and long duration of hostile behavior, this maltreatment results in considerable mental, psychosomatic, and social misery (Namie & Namie, 2003).
Currently, there is no federal or state legislation banning workplace incivilities, aggression or bullying (HR Focus, 2008), and HR professionals are aware that the law rarely provides protection for generalized harassment claims. (Namie, 2007)
Alice felt so desperate that she was ready to ask help of any one…. she began, in a low, timid voice, `If you please, sir–‘ The Rabbit started violently, dropped the white kid gloves… (Carroll, 1865)
What I am about to write is the absolute wrong thing to say or send when you are being harassed by a cyber-bully. You never want to antagonize a bully – you always want to ignore them. Always. (Yes, I am learning my lessons, learning well.)
With cyber bullies, because they are cowards – they post and run, leave or send evil messages under cover of darkess and most victims don’t get the satisfaction of standing up to them.
So, I am going to have my say, here and now! I’m getting it out of my system right now! Okay, letting it go, letting it fly, growling like a Pit Bull and spewing what I’d really like to say to these cyber-bullies. (PS: I’d never have the nerve to send this to the bullies that have harrassed me; but to dream about it is very theraputic.)
My Bully Fantasy Script:
This is for all the bullies, all the haters out there who, for “sport” think it’s a grand game to harass and belittle people.
This is for the good and kind people, too. For John in Florida who inspired me with the Pit Bull image.
Me: You are very sick and troubled people. I am tired of your sick postings, your spying tactics and your evil and underhanded ways. Why eat hate for every meal???!! I know you enjoy spreading your hate and anger – you feast on it like a rabid animal. Why would you be so cruel? Why would you be so vile and heartless? No one deserves your wrath – turn it inward and see how it feels, why don’t you?
Why are your hearts so dark? Why are your minds so full of disturbed things? I will never understand the cruelty that must live within you 24/7.
Attack / Post / Run. That’s your game. You attack again and again but you run away, like a coward! Attack – post – and run! So easy for you, isn’t it? But, oh so cowardly; oh so underhanded, oh so hatefully aggressive. You don’t discuss or talk – you attack when the target (victim) of your hate is not there to defend his or herself. You attack like an inhuman boor!
So, you big bully, if you ever again try to hurt me, I will fight like a Pit Bull from now on! If you should even so much as THINK about harassing me again, or trying to cause harm to me, or try any other underhanded or cruel measure to try to hurt me…. I will bring a lawsuit against you in a mad rush of Pit Bull fever the likes of which you’ve never seen!
I will get a bloody army of Pit Bulls and we’ll bite and we’ll bite for days and days! We’ll bite and bite you from all sides, from all angles!
Why won’t you clean out your damn heart…??? It’s filthy.
Eck…. bleck…. phew!!!
Okay…! That felt pretty good (even if it’s only a dream).
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.
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,
Post Script: Judge and Jury have been shut out of the Internet chat community – FOR GOOD! ♫♥♫♥♫