Back in December, I briefly touched on the subject of my experience with cyber-bulling.
It began mid-2011 and, I’m sad to report, still happens every now and again. Born out of spite, it’s continued through subtweets and snide comments. Reading this, you might not think of that as bullying. I mean, everyone subtweets, right? Yes, but a continued string of these directed at one, single person? Yeah, that’s bullying.
At its worst, I was on anti-depressants. At my worst, I sank to their level. I should point out that I’m not some young whipper-snapper, as evidenced by the use of whipper-snapper. When it started I was 27, they were only a few years younger. What shook me most about the whole thing was that this could happen to an adult and that the “bully” was also a grown-up. From talking to friends, however, it seems that bullying in adults is a lot more common than you’d think. The difference is that adult bully’s are much better at hiding their attacks.
Firstly, what is cyber-bullying in relation to adults?
BullyingStatistics.org breaks it down really simply as:
“The goal of an adult bully is to gain power over another person, and make himself or herself the dominant adult. They try to humiliate victims, and “show them who is boss.”
They go on to list the 5 main types of adult bully: Narcissistic, Impulsive, Physical, Verbal and Secondary. (NB: more information on these types can be found by clicking the above link, but you can probably guess what they all are.)
Whilst this website provides a lot of information about how to spot these types of bullying, it also advises that there’s little you can do about them outside the confines of the law. The sad fact about adult bullies is that they have probably been acting this way for years and so have got their subtlety down to a fine art.
A slightly more helpful website is Mental Health Support. As a site dedicated to mental health, it reminds us that if you find yourself the victim of adult bullying, “a bully’s bad behaviour is entirely their responsibility, not yours, no matter what they may tell you.”
Life After Adult Bullying also lists the following important things to remember:
- You are not to blame
- You must not feel it is acceptable
- You have a right to get it stopped
- You have a right to complain
- You have a right to confidentiality
- You have a right to dignity and respect
So, as an adult, what can you do to stop cyber-bullying?
1. Tell Someone You Trust: As much as it might seem like anyone you tell will think you’re being childish, you must tell someone. If nothing else, it takes the pressure off you, at least a little bit. Tell this person everything. Name names, show evidence (such as screenshots), give them all of the details. It might seem incredibly tough, but sharing it with someone else will make you begin to feel a lot better.
2. Protect Yourself Online: Social networking has evolved a lot, especially in the ways that we can protect ourselves from abuse. On Twitter you can set your account to private, same goes for Instagram, and on Facebook you can control the settings on your account to hide what others can see on your profile. Twitter and Facebook also provide the option to block people from following you or seeing your profile. You can report someone on Facebook here and on Twitter here.
3. Don’t Sink to Their Level: Nothing fuels a bully’s fire like you rising to their bait, trust me. Bully’s feel better about themselves by making you feel bad. Its true of bullying in children and it’s the same for adults. As tough as it might be, ignore them. Don’t let them see if they’ve upset you because that’s exactly what they want. To remind me of this, I had the following quote taped to my computer at work:
(sourced from Pinterest)
4. The Last Resorts: Cyber-bullying’s defining characteristic is that it’s online (Probably because this particular type of bully would never have the guts to say anything to your face). If you’ve tried everything else and it’s still going on, deactivate whatever account you need to in order to stop them having a way of getting to you. If they have no way of reaching you online, the bullying should stop. If it doesn’t and escalates in to something else, report them to the police. You might feel silly doing it but this is harassment and they can be charged.
I’m sorry this isn’t the most cheery of posts, but I’m sad to say that adult cyber-bullying is on the rise. We rely so much on social media now that we’ve opened up every facet of ourselves to the possibility of abuse. By being careful and knowing how to use social media safely however, you can limit your exposure.
Have you ever been a victim of cyber-bullying? Any more tips on how to stop it from happening? Let me know in the comments section.