I think most people who follow this blog know I’m one of the creators of Mental Health Voices, the rotation curation account on Twitter. I’m also the sole administrator on the account so make sure it runs smoothly, which for the most part it does.
However, in the past few days I’ve had reason to write a post about harassment and bullying online. Here is a small extract to give you an idea what it’s about.
Online bullying is an everyday issue, it’s often referred to as one just for teenagers, but adults experience it aswell. I, myself, have been through it. For someone to be willing to speak out, publically, is rare and extremely brave.
In the month or so since what I have witnessed, and received is abhorrent. I have seen tweets about this person from a whole gang of people who seemingly set up a new account every day. I received one myself within a day of agreeing to have them on board warning me off!
In the past two days however, this group, have targeted, not only my Twitter accounts, but they sought me out on Facebook (an account I only opened this week following the closure of my old account after my own bullying experience) and they left me a message there. With accounts which were deleted before Facebook could investigate them. This makes me feel as though I am being stalked quite frankly.
You can read the full post on the Mental Health Voices Blog.
The whole experience has been emotionally draining for me. I’ve been extremely stressed, upset, angry, and concerned. Not only for the person that was targeted by these people but for the curators I’ve had running the @MH_Voices account. It made me consider shutting it down completely for their welfare. I don’t want people who are being brave enough to speak about their illness’ to be targeted by people who are harassing people for being friendly with someone they have a problem with.
I have blocked everyone I can find associated with the people who have been actively doing this who were following the @MH_Voices account, even if they didn’t directly say something to me/us. It’s not something I like to do, but I have to protect not only myself but the people who are taking part in this project from potential harassment. I don’t want anyone to feel the way I have been made to feel in the past few weeks.
These people seem to think stalking people around the web, and harassing them to warn them about someone in a really aggressive manner makes them heroes for a cause. I’m afraid it just makes them bullies, stalkers, and harassers. The whole, if you can’t beat them join them ethos that they are spouting is nonsense. Any chance they had of being heard and believed was drowned out the moment they became the bullies.
I also live with the ethos that unless someone has a criminal conviction against them for something abhorrent like child abuse or murder, everyone has the right to prove themselves. If, by living by that ethos, I get burned then so be it, but I have also seen many people change and turn their lives around. If someone has done something in the past I am not going to hold that against them. We all have a past, and things we would like to erase.
This post wasn’t supposed to rehash what has happened really but that has been quite therapeutic to say. My Husband knew this whole situation has been negatively affecting me, he saw it in my face, how upset I was getting but I kept telling him I was OK.
What these people were doing though was bringing back all the memories and feelings of what happened to me last year when I was bullied online by a family member. It was an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone, it lasted over 18 months and I gradually felt my identity being stripped away. The worst thing was because it involved family I felt I had nowhere to turn for support.
I am no longer connected online with any of my family, we speak and for the most part our relationships are repaired (except with the person who did it) but I won’t have anything to do with any of them on social media. Even those who weren’t involved are automatically blocked on all social media to ensure that nothing gets back to the person responsible.
I came back online because I want to connect with people and make a difference. I want to be stronger than that situation made me, I don’t want to be the person who almost died on October 1 2014 because someone bullied me with some of my worst fears online.
Mental Health Voices was one of the things I created as part of that vision to make a difference. I know it can make a difference, I’ve seen the discussions people have been having and the support people give each other and that is what I wanted from the group.
Not to be sat at home crying because people are harassing me and stalking me around the web. And if any of you are reading this, I hope you are supremely proud of yourselves.