I have dealt with bullies before but, never had I had to deal with bullies so much as I have while being an adult. The difference that I have seen from child bullies and adult bullies is that adult bullies can leave more irreversible damage. The damage from an adult bully can affect your career, your family life, your work place, and your ability to want to face the public. Adult bullies can leave you so devastated that you feel lost inside your own head.
I am a writer, and a pretty darn good one. I get lots of feedback by different people from different walks of life. I write about everything. I sometimes touch a nerve with some of those articles or short stories that I write. I know the consequences of writing an article of controversy. Most of these consequences transpire into a debate. I love debates. I sometimes write articles just to start a debate. I do not, however, write an article to personally attack or be personally attacked by anyone. Personal attacks are not my forte. Personal attacks are childish and I try to steer clear of these.
Like most online writers, I have a FaceBook page. This FaceBook page is like my online portfolio. It is where I send potential clients to view my work. Any online writer will tell you that the more comments that your FaceBook page has, the better. When a potential client sees that you are popular, that people like reading what you write, that your articles have meaning, and you can write well, they will hire you. I was hired many times by clients just off of my FaceBook page. I have also used my FaceBook Page to promote books that I have written as well. My FaceBook page is my livelihood, so to speak.
Recently I wrote an article and posted the link to my FaceBook page. I knew that this article would create some controversy, but I had no idea about the shit storm that it would develop into. It was a matter of minutes before I received a few comments explaining why they did not agree with the article. It was very clear to me that these individuals didn’t even read the article, just the title and short blurb on it. If they had read it, they probably wouldn’t have been so harsh. Nonetheless, I responded like I always do, defending why I felt the way I did. The comments continued back and forth for a while, it was becoming interesting but then I started getting personally attacked by these adult bullies. The bullying still wasn’t anything that I could not handle. I just kept saying, you obviously didn’t read the article. They didn’t want to read it, they felt that they were right and they were not changing their minds.
A few minutes later I became the target of an adult bully that crucified me. At first it started off as a few minor attacks mentioning some of my bad habits, the article was on unfit individuals, and then it hit the extreme. I refuse to say what this individual said to me but, it left me staring at their post wondering why they would say such a mean thing. I waited two hours before responding because I didn’t know what to say. This person not only crucified me, they called me by my real name right where everyone could see it.
There is a reason writers use pen names. My reason is because I don’t want, or need, anyone to track down my personal FaceBook profile where they can find out a lot of information about me. I use a pen name also because it is too easy to Google someone’s name and find out their address, phone number, family members, work history, or anything else about them. This person had released this information and it wasn’t long before I received five post on my profile page, five nasty post from individuals who didn’t care about my personal life.
Not only did he allow these other adult bullies to find me, he posted those nasty things about me on a FaceBook page where my family and friends could see it. My daughter even went on there and commented once. My thirteen year old daughter was actually the one who brought his nasty comment to my attention originally. How cruel is a person to write something about someone, where everyone could see it?! This was part of the irreversible damage that this adult bully had done.
As of this writing, the post has received over 2,000 views. That means, 2,000 people could have potentially seen what this person wrote. This was total defamation to my name and character. He might as well have strung up a banner in the middle of town saying. I can’t take back all the people who viewed it, it was irreversible damage.
The first thought that came to my mind with this nasty little comment was, my family seen that. The second, all of my co-workers are fans on there and seen it. The third, what if a potential client seen it and won’t hire me now because of it? The fourth, is that really the way people view me? There were so many thoughts running through my head and yet this person still felt the need to continue on with his adult bullying.
I lost a lot of friends shortly after people started becoming aware of the situation. I had one friend that I had known for years, and who I helped while he was deployed and going through family issues, to all of a sudden tell me that he could no longer be my friend because of these accusations. I had two more individuals who said that they would rather steer clear of me so that they aren’t brought into the mess. Really?! I guess I know who my friends are. I can understand someone who doesn’t want involved, I really can, but to tell me that you can no longer be my friend because I was bullied and verbally sexually harassed? Nice, blame the victim. This is what is wrong with society today, it is always somehow the victims fault. We are often told that it is our responsibility to block the individual out of our life, that maybe we did something to set this person off, that it isn’t as bad as we are making it sound, that it will all eventually blow over. Seriously?!
I have never felt more betrayed by the people I looked up to. These were the same people who were my mentors, gave me guidance, and helped me when I had a problem. I don’t care if you are a mutual party in the situation, but to tell me that you want nothing more to do with me? I have lost all respect for those individuals. I no longer trust any of them. I now realize how much I am in this alone. Who is going to stand up for you when everyone is too damn scared to face the truth?
I don’t cry, I refuse to cry, but each time I look at the crap that was written about me for the world to see, I break down. I have always been someone who said that you shouldn’t cry unless you are hurt. The emotional stress had got to me. I guess this individual accomplished what they intended to because I was a wreck. After being blamed over and over for this, I shut down. I have never felt this vulnerable in my life. I started to wonder if I should just shut down the FaceBook page that I had worked so hard on. I started to wonder if I should just let this individual win. I started thinking back to what a friend had said after reading it,” people will be cruel, there are always going to be bullies. It is what you do from this point on that will matter the most. Take this as a lesson, a lesson that has you coming out on top. You are emotionally strong and you have fought for victim’s rights all these years so why are you going to let someone take away your rights?”
I was a pre-law student and I am a lot smarter than a lot of people give me credit for. I use to read up on laws just for the fun of it. I use to bug the crap out of my old lawyer, Doug Carrel, just because I was a curious little turd who wanted to know laws about everything. Most of the time, Doug would laugh and say, “I’m going to have to start charging you if you keep asking me questions about everything.” I was constantly wanting to know my rights and the rights of others.
After my son, Gaje Florence, passed away I became a victim’s rights advocate. I ended up getting a law passed in his name and I helped others to pass laws as well. At the time, I wrote for Associated Content and then for Yahoo!. I was always writing press releases and news stories to help those individuals who felt that they by the system, the ones who felt that people were blaming the victim. I learned the quickest ways to search for information just to help these individuals. I am very well versed on my rights, especially as a victim.
I looked back at his comments and started thinking of all the rights that I had. This was cyber bullying, what he said was verbal sexual harassment, harassment, defamation of my name and character, and, it was damaging my writing career. That FaceBook page is a business page, it is how I get clients and it was now damaged.
The truth is that this sort of thing happens often. Sometimes it is swept under the rug, sometimes it is dealt with swiftly, sometimes lawyers get involved, sometimes there is nothing done at all because the individual becomes scared. I am not one of those individuals. I am a strong individual who has dealt with more than someone three times my age. My point is that I am strong and I will not let some cyber bully control my life.
The damage that this individual has caused, can not be reversed. It is done. The only thing left is to pick up the pieces of something that I did not create. This is a monster that was released and, there is no going back.
My point is that you may not realize the irreversible damage of adult bullies, but they are there. Stop and look at what the hell you are doing. Bullying, cyber bullying, doesn’t just affect you and that individual, it affects a mountain of individuals. It affects their job, their friends, their family, their emotions, their entire life.