Cyber Harassment Survivor’s Kit – STORIES OF SURVIVORS
How Cyber-Harassment Ruined My Life
Looking back, I’m pretty sure that was the moment that set him off.
I woke up very late the next day, turned on my phone, and was immediately assailed by the usual buzz of incoming notifications from Facebook and WhatsApp. I did my morning ritual of scrambling for my glasses, read the first few on screen and nearly fell out of my bed.
I was greeted by a hail of abuse on my social media accounts, ranging from insults against my supposed promiscuity and many, many rather rude variants of “how could you have done this to him?!” I saw a message from someone I can’t remember, asking if “everything was true”, with a link to J’s Facebook page.
J had written a long post that accused me of cheating on him, and getting pregnant by another guy. I remember thinking that my English teacher would have called his turn of phrase oxymoronic, as he called me a slut and whore in one sentence, and then said that he was still “madly in love” with me a couple of sentences later. Everyone in the comments was either shaming me or comforting J. I immediately messaged J begging him to take everything he said back, but he just ignored me.
It is a testament to J’s popularity that almost everyone took his side, and even the friends that I had left always seem slightly doubtful about my side of things. Going to uni was agonising – people in the lecture hall would just stare at me openly, and talk about me rather loudly. Obviously, I stopped doing volunteer work, and I took to just staying at home. I was afraid even to leave my room because that meant I had to face my housemates – this developed into social anxiety, to the point where my housemates had to get food for me, and had to force me to get out of the house to attend lectures.
I was lonely, ostracised, and an emotional wreck. On top of everything, every time I used my phone I was terrified that I would see another nasty message or comment, but then uninstalling my social media apps made me anxious about what people were saying about me that I didn’t know about. On hindsight, this was almost hilariously clichéd, but I remember crying and thinking if it could get any worse.
*Inspired by a real survivor’s account