Open Imagination

Real Life Stories of Change

Overcoming Cyber Bullying – Joyce

Cyber bullied from her youth to early adulthood, Joyce overcame online negativity with support from her friends and school.

Harassed from blogging

When Joyce* was 12 years old, a few girls from another class took offence at the blog entries that she and her friends wrote. The situation escalated with threats being exchanged, resulting in one of her friends getting physically harmed.

Her principal soon heard of the incident and sent everyone involved for counselling. “Thankfully, when this incident surfaced, it was resolved. I can't imagine how much worse it could get had the cyber bullying continued. Words can really hurt!” she said.

Differing views turned into abuse

Her second incident happened a few years later. After posting a topic of public interest on Facebook that many of her peers disagreed with, Joyce found many of her friends arguing with her, their comments turning into name-calling. During those dark days, Joyce felt terribly alone.

Sabotaged by cyber bullies

Years later, Joyce was cyber bullied again by people she didn't even know. A group of students had gotten upset over some matters, and as an act of protest, they approached some reporters to hound Joyce with questions pertaining to an event she was organising. They also gathered 50 people to comment negatively on the event. When she tried to remove the negative comments, they retaliated further, causing her to be fearful for her safety.

Support from her team and school

Thankfully, her predicament didn't go unnoticed. With help from her team and school, some of the online negativity was deflected. “Even though the journey was lonely and dark, they assured me that the matter will die down over time,” she recalled. “I received a lot of support that reminded me I did nothing wrong and need not be afraid.”

Advice for cyber bullies and victims

Being a three-time cyber bullying survivor did have a silver lining for Joyce. She found herself more resilient and stronger after overcoming her difficulties. “Each time I refused to be taken down by these negative people, I see myself growing wiser,” she noted.

Her pearls of wisdom to cyber bullies and cyber victims? “To cyber bullies, there are consequences of what you post online. It can get you into trouble through the trail of evidence that you leave behind. You are hurting people. To the victims, I want to let you know that you are not alone. There are lots of people with you, supporting you.”

“Try to talk to a trusted adult, approach family services or if you need to, turn to the law.”

Today, Joyce is more careful about what she chooses to put online, and treasures friends who are consistent both online and offline. When asked about her most hard-earned tip to overcome cyber bullying, she had this to say: “Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from the consequences! You should still watch what you say as you may get into trouble. It's essential that we all have that responsibility to do what is right for the greater good of this society.”

*Real name not displayed to protect her identity.

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