As a victim and survivor of a cyber stalker, as well as the target of cyberbullies, I know firsthand how difficult and stressful it can be.
Initially you are shocked – wondering who these people are? Why are they doing this? In many situations, you don’t even know the perpetrator, but they certainly believe they know you!
In 2006 in Broward County Florida, a landmark case for Internet Defamation and Invasion of Privacy. It was a jury verdict of over $11M for damages done to my organization, Parents’ Universal Resource Experts and myself. (www.helpyourteens.com)
I was literally bombarded with what are called “Google bombs” – and worse than that, they would attack my friends. My friends would try to fight back and the more you debate these people (stalkers/bullies) the more they engage and it can go from bad to worse within a matter of a few minutes of keystrokes.
With stalkers/bullies, you will never win – Yes, I was vindicated in a court of law, but did that remove all the slime that was online? It didn’t – and I continually have to spend time explaining these unfortunate people that have nothing better to do with their lives but to hurt others. They no longer hurt me – I only feel terrible for others that have to listen to their ranting.
When you can’t beat someone legally, the next best step today is taking it to the wild west of the Internet! Yes, the next thing I realized I was being slammed online. Called a child abuser, kidnapper, Ed-con, exploited families, a crook, and worse. Some comments even got sexual and disgusting. As my family and friends were reading this – I was mortified. I had to take legal action. The rest is history – as I won again in a jury trial for damages of over $11M.
Here we are in 2010 and cyber stalkers are still working hard at hurting people – but what I have learned from my experience is what others need to know when they are stalked.
• Never fuel it or engage in it – you will only fire it up. The stalker/bully wants to get a reaction, as hard as it is, don’t do it.
• If you can, block him/her and report them to the moderator of the forum (ie: Twitter, Facebook, Blogspot, Google etc.)
• If you attempt to tell your side of the story, even when it is the truth, you will never win. These people are determined to destroy you – no matter how blue the sky is, they will always be more determined it is green.
• Remember, when reading their crap, it is 99.9% twisted truths or outright lies. They may tell you to go and read X, Y, and Z – but neglect to tell you to read A, B and C – which completes the story. (For example, my stalker likes to tell people to read my trial transcripts – almost 1000 pages – and they direct you to certain page numbers, but unless you read the whole trial – you won’t understand those few pages, and I may look very bad – afterall, isn’t that the job of opposing counsel?) What would happen if you only heard one side of a case in trial? No one would hear the entire story.
• What motivates these stalkers and bullies? That is a million dollar question. Depending on who they are, in many cases they simply enjoy hurting others. In my case I believe these are seriously deranged people that want all residential programs closed. They don’t understand that many parents are only doing what is best for their teen. Yes, I chose a bad program -but I have taken my mistakes and turned them around to help others.
• Ignoring them is the best form of defense you have. Again, it can be extremely difficult, but remember, the more you try to tell your story, the more they will distort it. You will never win. It is just a matter of time and unfortunately for someone else, they will move on to another target.
There are lots of great online resources with more information on bullying:
www.googlebombbook.com and watch my appearance on Rachael Ray Show and ABC News 20/20 at www.suescheffpodcasts.com and http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/show/segments/view/preventing-cyber-slander/