I wanted to write about this issue for some time now…I just never got into it. Today I watched the movie “Cyberbully” and it really got to me. I’m not going to tell you the whole story, but basically, it’s a 17-year-old girl that gets cyberbullied by schoolmates.
This is a very important subject for me because it is something I’ve experienced myself. I’ve been bullied since I was a child, for every reason you could possibly imagine! And this is the first time I ever wrote about this, so bear with me…
Cyberbullying – My story
When I was 19 this (mean) girl decided to bully me on the internet. It was on a site named Fotolog (ever heard of it?). It started as something very stupid…someone had anonymously posted a comment on her page saying she was a cheating (you get the idea!) and somehow she decided it had been me and went on to start a fight on my page. Oh, yeah…she was supposed to be the best friend of my boyfriend at the time, and we got along well, until that day of course. She started posting really horrible things and going on to other people playing the victim, while I decided not to bring anyone else into it because I thought it was only between us and no one else. I was already at a bad place at the time, with a lot of schoolwork and everything going on. This went on for about 5 months before she decided to cancel her account. Later I heard she had a blog or whatever, but it really didn’t interest me.
While this whole thing was happening, one of my best friends died, someone, I had known for 10 years and that really brought me down. When this girl commented something really mean and disrespectful about my friend’s death on my Fotolog, I decided I was done.
Then one night me and my boyfriend at the time (we were still together) were going out and had to go to the ATM before we headed to the cafe where the group used to meet, and I noticed everyone looking at me strangely and whispering (I live in a very small town). I didn’t think much of it, until some minutes later the girl and her enormous boyfriend come up to us. She was holding a piece of paper in her hand saying (yelling actually) that she’d “nailed” me. I had no idea what she was talking about. Apparently, someone had been sending mean comments to her new blog (which I had never read) and had signed with my name.
She said something about the IP-address being of the anonymous comments being the same as the comment with my name on it (oh yeah, I had NO IDEA what an IP-address was back then). She had shown that piece of paper to all of my friends and people who I didn’t even know (hence all the looks and whispers). At that point, I was at my breaking point. Having lost my best friend less than a month before, I really was done with all the drama and just wanted my peace. So I didn’t do anything, I didn’t defend myself and thought that if my friends actually would think I was capable of writing such horrible and mean things to anyone, then they did not know me at all and weren’t real friends. They did believe her and with time I realized I couldn’t be friends with that kind of people.
From cyberbullying to harassment
I thought it would be over then. If I wasn’t going to respond, then there was nothing to pick up on. I was wrong. The boyfriend of the girl started harassing me. He started e-mailing me and calling me with threats. All anonymously, but I could recognize his voice and comparing the e-mails with some messenger conversations I had with him, it was easy to put 2 and 2 together and figure out who it was. It came to a point where I was afraid of leaving my job (I was working during the summer in a Pizza Restaurant) because I had to pass the cafe where they used to go. I had to have some other friends drive me home.
Eventually, I moved out to a shady room in Lisbon. I was going to the University and thought everything would be ok. But it wasn’t. I was afraid to trust anyone, thinking no one was going to be worth it. I was depressed and stayed in bed all day, instead of going to my classes. Thinking back, it was the worst time of my life. I felt like I had no purpose like I wasn’t worth anything. My supposed friends had believed her, who was known to be a liar and to create drama wherever she went, and that really made me feel bad.
The next summer I got seriously ill and had to go to the hospital for a couple of weeks and after that, I moved back home. I was afraid of going out of the house because I might see the girl and her harassing boyfriend. I once saw him driving by and had a panic attack. In the fall I started going to school again and met some new people, including my best friend Joana who is and has been my support system. But I was still very suspicious of everyone who tried to get near me. I wasn’t happy. I decided to study abroad for a year and went to my father’s hometown Vienna, in Austria. I stayed with my aunt and cousins and met some cool people, but it still wasn’t the same. I wasn’t ME! When I got back me and my boyfriend broke up and I for the first time I felt I was alone. I had broken off with my friends but I hadn’t made new ones yet. This last year has been great, I have made some great friends and some who might become good friends. They helped me a lot!
Starting to trust again
I don’t think about the girl anymore. The last time I’ve thought about her was when someone made a fake profile of me on Facebook and started sending rude messages to some of my old “friends”. I was warned of it by one of the few people I still talked with at the time, actually accused is the right word, she accused me of doing it. I told her I have one and only one Facebook page, reported the fake one (Facebook deleted it) and proceeded to unfriend the person who told me about it because if you are going to accuse me before asking me, you don’t know me and aren’t a real friend. I thought about the girl at the time because it was the type of thing she would have done. But I don’t care anymore. If I pass her on the street I don’t even notice anymore.
I stopped being afraid, but it took me a lot of time! Unlike the girl in the “Cyberbully” movie, I did not have help from my family, because I didn’t tell them. To be honest, I never felt their support in anything and the only time I asked my mother for help when I was at my lowest, she literally told me I was making a depression up. So I ever asked for help anymore. Much later I told my Mom part of it, but my Dad still doesn’t know everything.