A lovely young woman blogger I follow has decided to stop blogging because of a cyber-stalker. He recognized her picture and lives in the same town as her. This just breaks my heart in so many ways. It also makes me white hot furious. A bully got away with shutting her down, silencing her voice, cutting her off from her blogger community.
She tried blocking his posts, but he would just create a new WordPress account and pick up where he left off. From the tone of the comments written by this person it is obvious that he is a disturbed individual. He claims that her posts are derogatory and aimed directly at him. Her posts are almost fluffy bunny on average, so one would have to really work on it to find something to be angry about.
Her replies to his comments are along the lines of “I’m not talking about you; please stop making comments on my blog.” I don’t want to fall in the trap of blaming the victim, but my first question is “why do you allow these inappropriate comments to remain on your blog in the first place? It’s your blog – you make the rules.” Delete the comments and change your settings so that every comment has to be approved before posting.
Usually the best response to a bully is no response, if at all possible. It reminds me of a problem my daughter once had with getting creepy phone calls from a heavy breather of the “hey baby, what are wearing?” variety. She would go off on in him, yell, call him names, and order him to stop calling her. That didn’t work, of course. I finally convinced her to just hang up the phone and not respond at all. It worked, he wasn’t getting what he wanted and stopped calling her.
Now if the bully knows who you are and where you live that is a whole new ball game. At that point it’s time to start documenting every incident and then consider fighting back. One thing that bullies take advantage of is the fact that you are scared, maybe too scared to do anything about the bullying. Unfortunately it’s often so true. But it’s OK to be scared and still take steps to protect yourself.
I had a cyber-stalker many years ago before there was caller ID. So I never knew what I was going to hear when I answered the phone. He was a mean twisted SOB. He even figured out where I worked and sent me, via my work e-mail, photo shopped pictures where he had pasted pictures of my face on the body of a nude woman engaged in particularly raunchy sexual activities. He threatened to send the pictures to my boss and co-workers. He also informed me that, with my help, we were going to repopulate the lost 13th tribe of Israel. “Uh, thanks, but no thanks.”
Needless to say I was terrified, mortified, horrified, ossified and every other adjective that ends with fied. But I decided to get one step ahead of him. I went to my boss and explained what was going on and what this person was threatening to do. I was in tears and bordering on hysterics. But, he was much more understanding than I thought he would be. He was also outraged. It turns out his friend’s teen-aged daughter was going through the same thing. He ordered an increase in security at the front desk and a crack down on people walking in saying they left their badge at their desk, or home, etc. As far as I know the creep never sent the pictures. If he did, no one told me. And for that I am grateful.
I was one of the lucky ones. Lucky in that I filed a police report and they took me seriously. Double lucky in that I had a couple a friends in the military who worked in the cyber-security department. I told them what was going on and they took up the crusade banner with remarkable chivalry. They also told me to “not worry my pretty head” and that I would never hear from him again. They were partially wrong. I did hear from him one more time. I received a FIVE PAGE apology email in which he apologized to me, my ancestors, my descendants, and anyone who I happen to randomly interact with in my daily life. Then I never heard from him again.
I asked these guys what they did. They said that someone had paid him a little visit, but if they gave me the details they would have to kill me. Ah, military humor at its finest. It is good to have powerful friends. But, even if you don’t have powerful friends, hopefully you do have friends to help you through the rough times. And please stand up for yourself. You deserve it. If you don’t take that first step, the bully wins.