Written by: Charmin’ Carmen
I’m the victim of cyber bullying.
I’m 35 years old with two children and I am being threatened and harassed online by someone I don’t know. This shit is real.
It started with a stolen cell phone. Perhaps I lost it, or maybe it was pick-pocketed out of my purse. Regardless of HOW, or even WHY, the phone went missing and I really didn’t think anything of it. I had already transferred the number over to a new phone, and wasn’t even using it anymore. What I didn’t think to do was wipe it clean of my personal information. It didn’t cross my mind that my email and social media accounts were still linked either.
Sure, it was at the back of my mind to go through it and pull off anything I wanted to keep like pictures and videos. But it was an afterthought – something to get to later. Later never came.
Three weeks after I last saw it, an email was sent from my personal email to my boyfriend’s work email. It was a picture, one that I forgot existed, but one that I definitely would be embarrassed had anyone BUT him been sent it.
Then came match.com emails. An account was created in his name, and all the “you’ve got a match” and “so-and-so viewed your profile” emails started to pop into his inbox. Sure, all tame. But my boyfriend works in public schools, and anything inappropriate in nature can be flagged by their network. He was smart, he went straight to HR to report the email abuse, but it still stung a bit. Nothing makes you feel more vulnerable than being powerless to someone cyber-stalking you.
We did our due diligence – passwords were changed, the phone was reported stolen, and a remote-wipe was sent from my phone carrier. Nothing much more you CAN do.
But then it got really personal. And scary.
The next time the ‘thief’ turned on the phone, the wipe notification was made clear to them. Everything that was on the phone was erased. But it didn’t stop this person from contacting me.
About an hour after the remote-wipe notification was sent to me, I received a nasty, threatening, and completely violating email from this person from a fake email address. It recounted private details and names directly from my phone’s contact list.
I was called a slut. I was accused of being a cheater. I was told that my whole dating history from as far back as 10 years was going to be sent to my boyfriend. I was asked if he knew about my sexual history. I was told he was going to soon find out.
My initial reaction was gut-wrenching pain. Not because I was worried that any or all the information would cause my relationship harm, but because I was being faced with threats at all. My past is my past and it’s one I haven’t hidden from my boyfriend; however so much of what was in that email was either embellished, or wrong. Could someone really create a false story of my life and try and ruin my reputation? Is that even a thing?
The truth is, there is nothing stopping anyone from cyber bullying. Sure, it’s something I had attributed to teenagers or young adults and not something I would have ever thought could happen to me, but it did. And it’s the most violating feeling I have ever experienced.
The emails haven’t stopped. We continue to receive one every so often with a lot of the same details, more embellishments, and a lot of “why would you date such a whore” comments. The last one (to date) was just a plethora of screenshots from my phone, text messages, Facebook messages and emails.
I wanted to react. I wanted to find this person(s) and charge them with harassment. I wanted to KNOW why they chose me to torment. I wanted them to hurt.
I don’t want that now. It doesn’t serve any purpose to sink to that level, and it makes me no better of a person if I do. The better approach is to rise above this person’s immaturity and face the real facts: I have nothing to hide from my boyfriend and he doesn’t care whatever this person has to share with him. Isn’t that really all that matters?
Sure, I feel violated. My boyfriend feels victimized too. But WE made the choice to feel that way and doing so provided this person more power than they deserve. We’ve decided to not let them torment us because of a lost phone. The best approach is to do exactly what we did: File a police report and forget about it.
I don’t want them to win. I don’t want them to continue harassing me OR my boyfriend. But the truth is that they can do whatever they want. And they might. The only thing I can control is how it makes me feel. And today I feel like they can go fuck themselves.
So today, I win.
Cyber bullying is real and it can happen to anyone of any age. And it’s personal. No matter if it’s a stranger or someone you know. Attacking someone online and threatening them is extremely personal and it hurts. Don’t give anyone that power. I’m making the choice not to.
If you, or someone you know is a victim of cyber bullying, google your local authorities and report it. Save emails, texts, anything that can lead to your bully. Take back your own control.