I recently saw someone asking for stories of cyber bullying, and decided to submit my story. I’ve detailed it on this blog for years, but I sat down to type a shorter version of it for someone who isn’t necessarily in the narcissist survivor community. Since I typed it all out, I thought I’d share it here
So my personal testimony of cyber bullying…it might be more than you need, because it lasted for years, and turned into a horror story.
It started when I split from my husband after a short marriage. He had become violent very quickly once we got married. I had known him for two years before we got married, but later realized I hadn’t understood red flags. He had thrown me across a room when I was early in my pregnancy, so I had him arrested. We had met through a nationwide club that has conventions all over the country, and a very active online forum, so we had hundreds of acquaintances and thousands of people in the same club. A few days before his court date, he had a third party post my financial records in the club’s Facebook group that had over 3,000 members. Some people defended me and/or objected to that post, while others trashed me relentlessly for weeks over it. Most of them I had never met. The point of it was to scare me out of testifying and to humiliate me. Since that club had been my only social life for many years, it also left me with barely any friends, and afraid to trust anyone.
Once that died down, he continued to use the group to message various women and tell them his story of how “mean” I was to him. He always chose empathetic women who had been through abuse, so they fell for it and would start trashing me on his behalf in this public group. The number of women doing it grew and grew, and I could honestly list over twenty women who were doing it directly. Hundreds more bystanders would join in. The threads went on for days and days with hundreds of strangers I’d never met debating my character. My Facebook block list is HUGE. I had never met any of them, but they all cyber bullied me based on my abuser’s stories. Men started joining in too. Pictures of my house were posted to mock my poverty. They made fun of my kids. My family was stalked. My dad got phone calls making fun of me. Details of my family and relatives were posted–my mom, my half-sister, my step-brother, my ex-fiance. My ex and his group of women invented stories about me that grew and grew out of control. Rumors would come back to me of things that people were saying about me that weren’t even close to true. For a long time, I’d get daily messages warning me about what was going on, even when I’d long left the group and club. I started telling people not to warn me or send me any more details, because I was stressed from knowing.
This started in 2012 and was still going on in 2016 when I finally left the internet for nearly a year to hide. I had to completely change my social life, and I only stay in touch with very few people that I knew before. Even now, I will be in an unrelated group, (because I am no longer a member of that club,) and someone I don’t know will recognize my name and attack me or start mocking me. When I click on their name to see why they are targeting me, I can usually see that they have some connection to that old club I was in. A couple months ago, someone stalked me all through the internet and sent me an anonymous hate email with details of my life that a stranger wouldn’t have known. They were mocking me and making fun of me for going back to school because I was a “failure” at my previous degrees. I have no idea who it was, but they referred to many of my private financial details that my ex had shared in that group over the years.
Over the years, so many crazy rumors got back to me that were the opposite of reality or anything I have ever done, but it’s like the game of telephone. When people spread stories, they grow and change, and turn into something different. It also told me something bad about human nature. When people are being jerks, others will gladly join in. Most people aren’t strong enough to speak out against it, and most people will join or ignore it because they are just glad it’s not happening to them.
We hear about teenagers doing it, but these were grown adults. Many of them women were older women in their 50s or 60s. Most were professionals of some kind. One of the worst was an accountant, another was a lawyer, a few were teachers, a couple were nurses, there were computer programmers. One is a nurse practitioner midwife who was especially vicious about trashing me. Some were retired. These people were intelligent, and most were highly educated!
That’s a small bit of what I dealt with. It was so bad, I cried myself to sleep every night for years and considered suicide. It doesn’t just happen to teenagers!
I have since learned through therapy and court subpoenas, that my ex had a long history of terrorizing others before me. My therapist believed he had anti-social personality disorder, and I agree. He is smart and charming…until you are married to him. I started an anonymous blog about my experiences and joined a ton of support groups online. What I went through was called a “smear campaign,” and in abuse groups, we call the people who were doing it “flying monkeys.” I think I got a worse case of it because he was able to broadcast and use that club we were in. He had thousands of people to manipulate in that Facebook group, and there are always new members. Whenever someone new joined in, they would hear about how awful I was and never had a chance to know reality.