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I Was Cyberbullied – Part 4 of 4

This is the final installation of my four-part story with cyberbullying. You can read it from the beginning here. Back to the story . . .

After finals were over, I filed a formal report with the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. They said there was nothing they could do at that point, but that people like her engage in the same behavior repeatedly. They suggested that I send my bully an email informing her that any future contact was unwanted and would be reported to the university as harassment. If she contacted me again, it would be actionable. I disagreed with their assessment, but I sent my bully the email.

Seclusion & Serenity by Iwona Erskine-Kellie

Thankfully, my bully only had one more semester of school and we didn’t have any classes together. If we had been in any of the same classes, I would have asked the school to make her change. It was still nerve-wracking to see her on campus, but we never had direct contact again. Last I heard, she moved to California. Shortly after graduation, I blocked my bully and my other former exec on Facebook. Doing that made me feel like I was closing the door on that chapter of my life.

I had an unsettling experience last week with my bully – she asked to connect on LinkedIn! I was surprised she would want to be a connection given her animosity towards me. I suspect she uploaded all her contacts to her LinkedIn account and requested to connect with all of them, not thinking that there might be people in her contacts list that she doesn’t want to be connected to. I looked for the ability to block someone on LinkedIn and was shocked to learn that LinkedIn doesn’t provide that ability. The best you can do is deny someone the ability to connect with you. I expected them to have a stronger anti-harassment provision. I would like to block her on that site too, but that is not an option at this time.

So there’s my story. It was hellaciously stressful to be the victim of cyberbullying. I’m so grateful that I had support from my friends, my family, and the law school. I can’t imagine how much worse it could have been if I had to endure it alone. Unfortunately, that’s what happens to too many children. They’re ostracized from their peers and they’re too afraid to ask for help from their parents or teachers.

To all the victims of cyberbullying, I know it’s hard to admit that you’re being bullied, and I know it’s scary to ask for help, but do it. You don’t have to go through this alone and you don’t have to continue to be the victim.

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9 Comments

  1. Andrea says:

    Thank you, Ruth, for sharing your story! I am so amazed by your strength – not only in getting through it but also in sharing. Much love to you.

    1. Ruth Carter says:

      Thanks Andrea! It was a hard decision to share my story, but I’m so glad I did. I hope my story helps others who are or who have been bullied, and I hope it makes people more aware that cyberbullying can happen to anyone.

  2. Tim says:

    Thanks for sharing Ruth! A friend had a similar experience at ASU during undergrad, and the thing we walked away with was the need to report the first instance. In her case, ASU took action after the third encounter after reporting. Hopefully people walk away (/click away) from your story feeling empowered.

    1. Ruth Carter says:

      Thanks for sharing about your friend’s experience. I agree – it’s important to report the abuse from the beginning.

  3. Pam Hellen says:

    You are my hero!! I am so sorry this had to happen to you. I am so proud of you for sharing! XO

    1. Ruth Carter says:

      Thanks Pam!

  4. Ruth Carter says:

    I received the following message from LinkedIn: “If you ever experience any bullying on LinkedIn, doesn’t hesitate to email our privacy team. privacy@linkedin.com.” Thanks LinkedIn!

  5. Erin Meehan says:

    Ruth! You are a rock star. I’m 38 and was recently being bullied online. I wrote an article on it as well. I ended up retaining legal counsel, too, to send her a proper C&D, citing if she didn’t stop the next stop would be activation of legal action against her. She shut up pretty fast. lol You are an amazing and brave woman. Stay strong and know I am a kindred spirit! :D

    1. Ruth Carter says:

      Thanks Erin! I’m sorry you had to deal with your own cyberbully but I’m glad you stood up for yourself. I think a lot of bullies will back down when they see that their target isn’t afraid to pursue legal action against them.