What to do if you’re being bullied online

The more advanced we become with technology, logging into places like Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter, the more we open up our communication with others. Most times this is a good thing because we get to connect with our friends and share things with them. However, this can be a nightmare when we’re trying to avoid certain people, especially stalkers or harassers.

Not everyone really recognises the signs of abuse or bullying via text message. And even when some do, they don’t always take it seriously enough to deal with it. When people send you messages via text (SMS) or through a platform (such as Twitter or Facebook) online, it’s usually because they are aware that those are a bit more personal. It’s a form of abuse that’s not public and someone might send you messages knowing that only you will read the nasty or harassing messages.

Harassment or bullying via text message is not just something that happens between two people in a romantic relationship. You could experience it from anyone, including a friend or teacher.

So what are some examples of being harassed?

  1. Sending you hurtful messages that are meant to make you feel bad about yourself. This could be anything from “No one likes you” to “You’re ugly” as a few examples.
  2. Sending you threatening messages. This could be from anyone saying that they are going to hurt you or make life difficult for you or telling you that they will do something bad if you don’t answer their calls.
  3. Harassing you. For example, checking up on you constantly and expecting you to answer every message. Of course, this doesn’t mean that your parents or loved ones who are checking if you are okay or safe are harassing you. Usually when it comes to harassment it might be a romantic partner or friend who wants you to pay them attention and report to them constantly about your whereabouts. This is what we call possessiveness.  You’ll know when someone is being possessive because you will start to feel like they are trying to own and control you.
  4. Another form of harassment is when someone sends you inappropriate, sexual messages or asks you for sexual favours. This is sexual harassment.

What should you do?

People often take advantage of the fact that only you will see the message.

This is why it is important to be aware of when you are being bullied or harassed in these instances. If the messages that someone sends you make you uncomfortable or frightened, then you are being harassed. If they continue to contact you with nasty or threatening messages even after you’ve told them to leave you alone, it might be time to take action against your bully.

Your first thought might be to get rid of the messages. Don’t. Save all these messages you receive in case you need to report to the authorities what is happening. Show the messages to someone that you trust.

Block the person on your phone and all your social networks if you can.

Don’t respond to the person. This might just make them more aggressive or cause the harassment to continue. You might also be tempted to send mean messages back, don’t do that. Remember, they could erase the messages they sent you and keep everything you sent them, making it seem like you are the one harassing them. So it’s best not to respond.

If the person is constantly threatening you, don’t take their threats lightly. Obsessive behaviour can be dangerous. Show the texts to an adult or authority figure you trust. Also make your close friends and family aware of the situation so that you have help.

Bullies use text messages to intimidate others. Don’t give in by staying silent about it. Let those around you know.