Brave New Bullying—How to Protect Yourself from Cyberbullying

 

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I’ve talked before about how I train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Recently, I have started assisting with teaching the kid’s class. It is shocking how much time we devote to training kids to stand up to bullies. Bullies, in my opinion, are among the lowest known existing lifeforms. I wouldn’t want to insult cockroaches and fleas by drawing a comparison.

I’d love to say that we leave bullies behind when we are no longer kids, but I think bullying just gets worse and harder to fight. As writers, we deal with bullies a lot. Tragically, I’ve received many messages from semi-suicidal writers who left their dream profession because they had the misfortune of landing in the crosshairs of cyberbullies and no longer could endure the stress.

I have a hard time blaming them. I know what it is like to be willing to do anything to escape the torment.

Kristen’s History With Bullies

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Thomas Ricker.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Thomas Ricker.

I grew up most of my life being bullied. I switched schools at least once a year and there was always a new gaggle of Mean Girls to make my daily life a veritable hell. I think this is why I grew to love books. I skipped school so much (to seek sanctuary at the public library), that I’m fairly certain I’m the reason for the current Texas truancy laws.

I couldn’t get out of bed. I became ill at the thought of even walking through the front doors of my school. I was poor and these girls in their designer clothes who drove their BMWs to school took great joy in throwing away what little clothing I had when I was at soccer practice.

I couldn’t escape. They cornered me on the bus, in the lunchroom, in the halls. Most teachers did nothing. In fact, teachers were some of the worst bullies I endured.

One teacher made my life miserable because I stood up to her bullying a kid from another school. This teacher and her pets thought it was funny to stuff chocolate Ex-Lax into a brownie and give it to a kid that probably (looking back) had Asperger’s. I stood up to her over it and paid dearly.

Since she was “Teacher of the Year” no one, not even school administration would intervene and I endured her torment for three very long years. I had nightmares about her until my 30s.

Bullies Don’t Stay in High School

I’d like to say bullies went away. When I graduated and joined the workplace, I soon discovered bullies just grow older and more cruel. Female bullies are the worst. They don’t push and shove and bully in ways that a good tail-kicking can fix.

They are a slow poison with no taste or smell.

I’m certain Human Resources must have some hidden rule that they must hire at least one tireless jerk to torment their fellow workers.

Yes, part of why I left sales was my health. I threw up on the way to work every day. Why? A bully. She ruled the office and everyone feared her. She’d even once assaulted someone at the copy machine. I was responsible for a 2.5 million dollar quota and this person would make sure my orders were “accidentally” sent to the wrong place, my samples would get “lost in the mail” and important documents would disappear.

I kept having to change the lock on my office because this person thought nothing of helping herself to my personal belongings. One time, I’d worked months on a detailed presentation I had to give at the national meeting. I went to lunch and forgot to lock my office. She deleted the entire thing (though there was no proving it, of course).

Seven weeks of work had to be redone in 24 hours.

We had a major contract that came open. Business we’d had for a couple decades was being offered to our competition. I drove to Mississippi once a week for months to ensure we maintained the contract and won the bid. Finally, I got the green because they liked me. All I had to do was send the samples to a certain location.

The office bully deliberately mailed them to the wrong address (yes, she was the only one with the power to send out products). I have no idea how many people lost their jobs because we lost this major contract, and I was the salesperson so the blame was square on me.

And there was NO getting rid of her. I went to my boss, to the plant manager, to Human Resources and they acted as if I was just being sensitive. I left. She won. The factory closed. But what kind of person is willing to go to such extremes to hurt ONE person, that she takes out the jobs of others and then even her own? Why would a company tolerate this?

I’ve never found a satisfying answer.

I think that’s one of the reasons I have been so tireless when it comes to building the W.A.N.A. Community. I spent so much of my life alone, lonely, afraid and I never wanted anyone to feel the way I had for so long.

Brave New Bullying 

Now we live in a Digital Age and bullies abound. The Internet gives them access to torment us 24-7 no matter where we go. I was so thrilled the day I was asked to blog for Huffington, yet unlike here, I have no control over the tone of the comments. There are people who are simply made of spite and hate and they will take it out from the safety of a computer behind the anonymity afforded by monikers. Now when I post, I simply scan and, if anything is hateful in tone? I won’t even read it.

This is why I don’t read reviews before buying any book. There are too many sock puppets and trolls. Goodreads and Amazon are RIFE with bullying. I’ve had friends bullied on blogs and even once had someone start a hate blog directed toward me, “Kristen Lamb The Face of Misandry” which is “Man-hating”, btw. I had to look it up.

It’s sad to say, but when researching for this topic, it seemed most of the information was for kids, schools and teens. But bullies never go away. They often can’t be stopped, but maybe we can make it tougher for them to spread their cruelty.

What To Do

Be YOU—Don’t Let Bullies Steal Your Peace or Your Book Sales

First of all, use the name printed on your books. A moniker or a pen name won’t stop the hate. It’s still you. If someone called me names and ruthlessly attacked my character it wouldn’t matter if it was Kristen Lamb’s Blog or Penelope Fluffernutter’s Blog. It’s still me behind the computer.

When we try to hide behind a moniker to protect against the inevitable, all we do is make it harder to sell books. The bullies win. They can steal your peace and maybe even success.

When we get off the Internet because of these cretins, they win. It’s a “blaming the victim” mentality. If your skirt wasn’t so short blog wasn’t there, you wouldn’t be raped harassed by trolls. This is why I DO recommend a WP based site. There is this marvelous TRASH function.

Illegitimi non carborundum…

Keep Records

If you get hateful, threatening messages take screenshots. Save e-mails. If the troll is motivated enough they can easily slip into an area that can give you power legally. But, proof is what will help your case.

Manage Your Blog

I don’t allow hate. I am always open for respectful disagreement, but if someone gets out of control? I delete their comments. People need to feel safe to comment on my blog (and yours), and bullies will shred the fabric of your community. It’s our job to keep them in check. Set boundaries and refuse to tolerate abuse.

Stand Up for Friends

If you have a writer friend who’s being bullied, gather together and, when Amazon asks if a review is helpful? Click NO. The W.A.N.A. Community is massive. Let us know. We are happy to stick up for you, and a troll might be able to harass one or two pals who come to your aid, but a few thousand is a tougher challenge.

Report and Block

Report abusers on Facebook. The guy who started the hate blog about me wasn’t just harassing me, he was harassing all my friends who commented on my wall. He was PSYCHO. I went to Facebook and had him banned. I blocked his comments and profile (until FB could take it down).

DO NOT ENGAGE

Don’t feed the trolls. Negative attention is still attention. Often trolls will leave seething comments to upset people SO much that they HAVE to go to their blog/website to see WHO this JERK IS. It’s the only way they can get hits and comments and they feed on negativity. Starve them.

Hire a Professional

If you’re worried about your safety or your family’s safety because someone has gone THAT nutso? Contact Jay Donovan at TechSurgeons. Jay is an amazing human being, a tireless champion for writers and he IS The Digital Dark Knight. He’s a computer genius who can have said troll chasing his own @$$ down a hole of frustrated nothing. There are ways to protect yourself digitally and Jay is a master of security. Even if you want to take some preventative measures, talk to Jay.

Many of you know I am NOT a fan of pen names. What you may not understand is I’m not a fan of pen names, because a different name alone isn’t enough. Worse, it can provide a false sense of security. Writers are locking the screen door thinking that’s going to keep out the motivated ax murderer.

There are sound reasons for having a pen name. I advise against it most of the time because friends, schoolmates and family can be powerful mouthpieces and very helpful. A pen name limits how much of that energy we can harness and dilutes focus.

BUT, if you DO need a pen name for safety, security, etc. TALK TO JAY. Again, a different name alone isn’t enough. An eight-year-old with decent Google skills can find who you are without the skills of someone like Jay helping you.

Speak Up

I hate to say it, but if Goodreads doesn’t start protecting writers from abuse, then we can remove our books. Don’t think they would last long with no authors and, since Amazon owns them, they might be more inclined to listen.

In the end, trolls are often a sign we are doing something right. Get ten trolls and I think we are officially a celebrity. Learn to un-see. Focus on those who love you.

Power in Numbers

Over on my Dojo Diva blog, I am talking about self-defense and how to shut down predators. Predators, whether in life or on-line, think very similarly. They prefer to go after those who are alone and weak. Take that away by being part of a strong community. There is something to be said for numbers discouraging attacks.

Social isolation is fuel to the bully fire. Those kids and teachers who bullied me capitalized on the fact that I came from a broken home and had NO ONE. I very literally had NO safe haven.

I recommend Gracie Jiu Jitsu to everyone who will listen, but for more reasons than self-defense. That kid who is being picked on will have it far worse if they have no tribe, no system of support to reinforce others genuinely CARE. Our dojo is that tribe. Our mission is to protect the weak. We live it and breathe it.

My Jiu Jitsu brothers.

My Jiu Jitsu brothers.

On-line? We also are wise to ally with strength.

Join our W.A.N.A. Community (W.A.N.A. stands for We Are Not Alone, information here). We are a great refuge and support system. Like my dojo, our mission is to serve and protect. They don’t call me the W.A.N.A. Mama for no reason😉 .

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You can join us on Twitter at#MyWANA, on Facebook or even WANATribe (a social network for creatives). I have ZERO tolerance for trolls and have smiting powers.

I know it can feel very defeating sometimes, but a great circle of loving friends who have your back is a great start. Refuse to feed the trolls your peace, success and happiness. They exist, but together we are stronger.

What about you? Have you been bullied? Did you find any tactics that were effective? I am no expert, so I would LOVE any suggestions.

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of JUNE, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

Remember, for MORE chances to win and better ODDS, also comment over at Dojo Diva. I am blogging for my home dojo and it will help the blog gain traction.

Winner for May is Ugirid Haprasad and the Dojo Diva winner is Amy Kennedy. Please send 20 pages (5000 words) in a WORD document to kristen at wana intl.com. Congratulations!

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook

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  1. #1 by Sharon Black on June 3, 2015 - 10:07 am

    Superb post, thanks Kristen. I hugely enjoy your posts, but felt I had to comment on this. Most of us have encountered bullying at some stage. We tend to excuse children and young people, but it’s far more difficult to make those same excuses for adults.

  2. #2 by G. R. Hambley on June 3, 2015 - 10:08 am

    Hiya

    Terrific piece and so important in our Cyber World.

    These are two of mine that were written after I had read an article on Linkedin.

    Cyber Discrimination, I wasn’t pleased. I was so displeased I went back for a second helping.

    https://transitionu.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/full-blown-snark-on/

    https://transitionu.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/full-blown-snark-on-addendum/

  3. #3 by regilson1 on June 3, 2015 - 10:13 am

    I look forward to when I have enough online presence to have trolls. But, I think discipline will be a huge thing for those who are undergoing onslaughts. Malicious criticism on social media is a difficult thing to ignore when

  4. #4 by regilson1 on June 3, 2015 - 10:14 am

    …we re constantly checking our updates and eager to hear feedback. I think it’s awesome you’ve set in place boundaries to help protect you from unwarranted, negative energy. Thanks for the insights!

  5. #5 by mattblackattack on June 3, 2015 - 10:19 am

    I love your blog so much. Your recent series on how to write (last 7 or so posts) has been so amazing that I felt bad about bot commenting but I was too busy writing. So for those and for this post, THANK YOU!!!

  6. #6 by Sarah Potter Writes on June 3, 2015 - 10:38 am

    And look what a fantastic success you’ve become, Kristen, despite all the bullying. Many people who endured such cruelty would disappear into a shell, never to come out again. I’ve made a note of Jay, just in case I ever need him, or one of my friends does.

  7. #7 by nightsmusic on June 3, 2015 - 10:39 am

    I actually had someone sign up under a ridiculous screen name just to come after me on a blog I comment on quite often. Not a writer blog, a lifestyle one. I had gotten sucked in online once before a few years ago even though I’d learned my lesson well after a childhood of being bullied. After several attempts on the bully’s part to try and seduce me into responding, he/she finally gave up. But it was oh, so hard not to post something in response to their hateful comments. I didn’t! But it was hard.

    • #8 by Fleur on June 3, 2015 - 4:03 pm

      That’s awesome! Good job and what great advice and example for the rest of us.

  8. #9 by Samantha on June 3, 2015 - 11:02 am

    I haven’t been bullied virtually yet, but I was the target of some bullying as a child and as an adult.

    What worked for me as a child was a swift punch in the gut followed by a contemptuous sneer at every encounter. Luckily, I was a stout kid. This was pre-helicopter parent days and you could get away with a lot at recess. Woe to any one who tried to bully my younger brother, either. There were a lot of sore bellies, and a bloody nose or two, at the monkey bars after he started kindergarten. Once my role as a violent defender was established, nobody messed with me all the way through high school.

    As an adult, it was much harder to deal with. After a few episodes, I adapted my childish strategy to the adult world.

    I started by increasing my confidence. Bullies are drawn to the meek, the passive, and the timid.

    I followed by delivering a punch. Direct, assertive confrontation confuses the crap out of a bully.

    Then, the contemptuous sneer. Honestly, this feels a little like reverse bullying, but I only use it on the wicked. I let my face tell the bully just how much lower they are than worm food in my world.

    • #10 by Barbara on June 3, 2015 - 12:42 pm

      Yes, being a meek and passive type I know all about bullies and their tactics. It is a complete power trip for them to put someone else down. I cannot change my personality. My usual response was to shut up and go away but this has evolved over time into a verbal punch in the guts (unrepeatable here) that so shocks them that their mouths open and close and they walk in a little circle of confusion and then leave the room quite astounded that such a retort can come from a meek, average kind of woman. All done in a very calm way. I can’t do a contemptuous sneer; I am far too nice. But I can do a cheery grin as if I have just wished them a lovely day.

      • #11 by Samantha on June 3, 2015 - 12:47 pm

        I am sorry you had that happen to you, but it sounds like you’re dealing pretty well. I’m going to try the cheery grin next time. I bet that chaps their heinies just as well.

  9. #12 by newfsull on June 3, 2015 - 11:12 am

    My guess is, before the internet, girl bullies were much more insidious than boys. Most men bullies tended to lack an IQ beyond a single digit, and dropped into oblivion after high school.
    The internet has changed all that. I play “mmo” games with my sons, and there the bullies, girls and boys alike run rampant, tucked away in their basements, their keyboards lashing out at whoever will give them the time of day.
    I have never fully understood what fuels a bully; it’s far to easy to blame low self-esteem, or even that they might live a life of being bullied themselves. I accept that a small percentage of the population is predisposed to be anti-social by nature, and some of that nature might blossom into the bully. Nurture might well produce its share.
    In the end I believe it is a need/desire to control other people and a xenophobic dread of anyone different than themselves. The trick is to recognize that what is being acted out is nothing more than a thoughtless rampage of “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

    • #13 by Stephanie Scott on June 5, 2015 - 10:46 am

      Bullying in gaming is so frustrating. I’ve played multi-player Halo for years online (and now Destiny). My gamer tag is gender neutral, but when I play Halo I choose a female Spartan. I’ve been harassed through online gameplay, given bad player rankings, and sent direct messages just for the crime of playing a female character. One message simply said “You a girl” with no punctuation. OK, I guess they’d moved on from identifying shapes and colors, so I left it alone. As a rule,

      I never use the headset unless I’m gaming with a known friend. I want to say it’s getting better. Tons of women and girls play games, even “boy” games like shooters (we don’t all like puzzle games). But even guys get harrassed too, so I guess the anonymity gives bullies a nice platform for their hate. It’s sad. Gaming should be fun and not exclusive.

      Last is I totally get why guilds and gaming circles exist. Find people you trust and partner up with them.

  10. #14 by Beks on June 3, 2015 - 11:13 am

    Amen. I’ve never experienced bullying to that extent, but it was pretty bad in junior high. This one chick just would not let us.
    Ironically, she got semi-nice in high school, and now she’s on my Jamberry team. She told me right after she joined under me that she was bullied pretty hard in junior high, too. Made me think that maybe she was trying to get some of the hell off her, and I was the scapegoat (And I’m pretty sure I knew who her bully was, too).
    Being a writer, I’ve been getting pretty used to my work getting ripped to shreds by other writers (more in college than now, because if there are any writers who are completely unsure of themselves, they’re in college), who say Chick Lit isn’t real literature. It is to me.

  11. #15 by emilymullaswilson on June 3, 2015 - 11:19 am

    I’m convinced that the school yard stereotypes follow us in different forms all our lives. The diva and the jock as well as the bully exist in the work world. I’d love to tell my students that life will change dramatically after high school, but it just isn’t true. Sounds like you’ve experienced even worse bullying than most of us have to endure, but it’s inspiring how well you’ve survived!

  12. #16 by foguth on June 3, 2015 - 11:34 am

    Just realized we had the same grade school teacher! … For years and years, I told my hubby that Ms. “S” was the wicked witch from the Wizard of Oz and he just got the ‘yeah right smile’ … then, one day when I was sorting old photos and organizing a scrapbook, he noticed a photo of my class – “Good, gosh, you never said that she LOOKED like that witch!” … “Yep and acted like her, too.”

    As per nasty comments on Amazon, it has been my experience that when I’ve had the misfortune to encounter a nasty person that seems to have me in their sights, sales have gone up. I assume that when I don’t respond to the attack/s others, get curious and click over to see what the fuss is about, decide they like the story and then click ‘buy’. Therefore as annoying as these people are, they do seem to have the effect of driving sales.

    That said, if anyone needs me to click ‘no’ in support, please let me know!

  13. #17 by annerallen on June 3, 2015 - 11:43 am

    Thanks so much for this great post on such an important subject. The truth is that if you have a successful blog and a successful writing career, you will get haters, trolls and bullies.

    Although bullies typically target weakness, as you say, there are also a lot–especially on the Internet–who target success. They are bitter wannabes who consider anybody who has even a small amount of success to be “fair game.”

    There is a bully gang from Goodreads (now mostly banned from the site, so now they live at BookLikes) who have sent me death threats with photos of my house just because they didn’t like a popular blogpost. Every time a well known anti-bully crusading author recommends one of my anti-bullying posts, they give me a bunch of one-star reviews. You’ll probably get some for this post.

    But you are absolutely right. The only thing to do is “unsee” this stuff. They are morons, so most of what they say is misspelled and profoundly stupid, so readers mostly ignore their reviews, but it means I don’t have a high enough star score to get into BookBub or the other big bargain newsletters. It amazes me that Amazon still lets these people terrorize their vendors, but they don’t seem to care. If they simply limited people to one or two pseudonyms for writing their reviews, it would do a huge amount to curtail the abuse. Most of these people use hundreds of sock puppet IDs.

    Keep preaching, Kristen! We need to stick together to fight these predators of the Internet.

  14. #18 by habisha on June 3, 2015 - 12:02 pm

    Thanks, Kristen. Joined your WANA FB group. As an childhood abuse survivor, I completely agree with you. There is no good reason to be a victim, and if you are victimized/bullied, STAND UP and TELL (sorry for the capital letters, but this is important). Telling someone, anyone, is vital. If you aren’t believed, keep telling until someone listens.

    Thanks for Jay’s name. I’m saving this blog “just in case.”

    Deb

  15. #19 by Nichole McGhie on June 3, 2015 - 12:05 pm

    Thanks so much for this article. It’s nice to hear I’m not the only one to have experienced this. I’ve been a victim of cyber bullying before and it’s not fun. I hate it and even though I’ve stuck it out, it has made me consider quitting social media and my blog before. It’s so hard to “unsee” those hateful comments sometimes. They always go for the throat and attack very personally. I’ve even had them go as far as to make horrible comments about my husband and children. Nothing puts me more into Mamma Bear mode then that. Luckily on my blog, comment moderator is my friend.

    What’s crazy is that I’m not even close to being popular and I have nothing published. I’m just a person over here in my little corning blogging about the things I love while I work on my writing career. So you don’t even have to be successful for the haters to come out.

    Thanks again for this post.

  16. #20 by Pena, Peggy on June 3, 2015 - 12:10 pm

    What a wonderful article! Thanks for opening up my eyes about bullies.

  17. #21 by Mom on June 3, 2015 - 12:27 pm

    I’ve had a couple of these type experiences. They shake you. Fortunately, my blog is still small enough (around 2K readers) that I can put all comments in cue and approve them before they appear. This doesn’t mean that I only cherry-pick the ones who lather me up with praise–I’ve allowed a few hits and less than kindly worded “typo corrections.” But, I will not allow someone to slander me or my family in a very public forum just because they found out I have a blog. Comment moderation makes a big difference there. And I agree, WP does a heck of a job filtering such things too!

  18. #22 by Mr. Militant Negro on June 3, 2015 - 12:52 pm

    Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

  19. #23 by Joanne Lowery on June 3, 2015 - 1:08 pm

    If we hadn’t experienced the evil of bullys we could not fully appreciate the goodness of those who put themselves on the line to help protect us. All our Mamma Bears out there are a force to be reckoned with and I am in awe of their power.

  20. #24 by Xena on June 3, 2015 - 1:20 pm

    Reblogged this on Blackbutterfly7 and commented:
    Excellent advice, and it encourages and inspires. “Starve them.” I’ve said the same thing. Thanks so much for this post.

  21. #25 by Antonia Malvino on June 3, 2015 - 1:30 pm

    Reblogged this on The Vast and Inscrutable Imponderabilities of Life and commented:
    I was thinking of writing this topic, and then I found this wonderful blog post by Kristen Lamb. I can’t say it better than this. Brava to her.

  22. #26 by Judi Ring on June 3, 2015 - 1:38 pm

    As prominent as the anti-bullying campaign is, bullying is still being glorified on TV commercials. Those “I have good credit so you better give me everything I want” commercials really get to me.

    And that yogurt commercial where the yogurt maker isn’t confident enough about his product to allow others to enjoy their goodies and has to shrink goodies that other people have paid for. They even had to shrink an ice cream truck, leaving the owner without his livelihood.

    Sorry, lived through so much bullying myself as a kid that I’m sensitive to it now. Or maybe I’m just too old and nitpicking. Anyhow as you see, it bothers me enough that I don’t even remember who the advertisers were.

    • #27 by Laura on June 3, 2015 - 3:57 pm

      You know, I absolutely HATE that yogurt commercial. I’m glad i’m not the only one! I kept telling myself I was probably overreacting. I’m glad you posted this.

  23. #28 by Fleur on June 3, 2015 - 2:02 pm

    I just wrote a blog post about this! What a coincidence!
    Although my post is mostly about what to do against verbal abuse if you’re too timid to stand up for yourselves. It’s not nearly as good advice as you’ve got here and it wouldn’t work in the example you’ve given us (about your coworker), but it’s something that’s worked for me.
    Mostly, you work on taking away the bully’s power. You do that by contradicting what they say, in your own mind. Every time they say something demeaning to you, you tell yourself the opposite. And say great positive things to yourself over and over, in your own mind. These positive things can be very powerful and if you remain constant and vigilant in this, then their power over you will diminish.
    Here’s the link that explains it better, if anyone’s interested. I also linked back to you in my post because I think you’ve given such great advice.
    http://blog.fleurcamacho.com/2015/05/bullies.html

    Another thing that I would say is that it’s important for us to stay neutral on the internet! A picture can be worth a thousand words, and it can also cause a thousand misunderstandings. We don’t always know the truth when we read or see something on the internet, and then we become the bullies when we attack the ‘perpetrator.’ So please remember to check into the truth as much as you can before attacking someone on the internet.

    Thanks for all your work and your great blog posts Kristen!! You put soo much work into them and I really love and admire your posts.

  24. #29 by Helen Jones on June 3, 2015 - 3:06 pm

    Bullying sucks! I was bullied through my teens (partly why I started studying martial arts), then at work by a boss who loved to humiliate me and use me as a scapegoat. Now I’m online I’m just waiting for the day a troll comes to visit. It’s nice to know there is such a big supportive community out there – I followed MyWANA on FB a while back and, while I don’t use Twitter often, I’ll look out for you guys there. As you say, if we stand together we will overcome bullies, for they only like to prey on those they see as weak and alone. Another great post🙂

  25. #30 by Laura on June 3, 2015 - 3:54 pm

    I threw up a lot in school, too. And then in college, it was every day. I didn’t realize that stress was the cause (and the bullies) until I was much older and it was happening before work. Now, I know I have stayed at an assignment too long when I can’t sleep and also start throwing up every morning before work. Workplaces have the training for anti-harassment, but sometimes people think it doesn’t apply to them…

    Great post. I am using a pen name, but I intent to use a personal assistant to screen reviews, etc. I don’t want to read any of it myself. I get to the “curled up in a ball in bed for a week at a time” stage too easily just because a family member says something catty. Granted, I can deal with bad critiques on critique sites, but idk about a review of the published work…

  26. #31 by P.D. Workman on June 3, 2015 - 4:20 pm

    [LIKE]

    You are a worthwhile person, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Do what is right and leave the bullies flapping in the wind.

  27. #32 by Melissa Lewicki on June 3, 2015 - 4:34 pm

    I hadn’t thought about it in this context before, but I believe I was bullied by my staff at my second to last workplace. I know they made me absolutely miserable. It got so bad that I would drive half-way to work and then have to turn around a go home because of panic attacks. I never had such attacks before or since. My solution: I got a new job. A better job. A job far away from those awful people.
    Thanks for the post, Kristen.

  28. #33 by Theresa Schevis on June 3, 2015 - 5:49 pm

    I’m sure I will be referring back to todays blog over and over again. I was bullied in school and in the business world also. As I read your blog I actually felt the pain you must have endured. What impressed me the most is that you fought back and come to think about it, it only made you stronger which is great. Thank you for the post.

  29. #34 by Rii the Wordsmith on June 3, 2015 - 5:50 pm

    I actually havent’ had a problem with bullies myself, but then, I haven’t been enough to attract any yet anyway. It’s good to know of resources now😀

  30. #35 by Cassandra L Shaw on June 3, 2015 - 6:06 pm

    having been bullied at school till I ended up with one lone TRUE friend I knew a bully when I met one and in the workplace I found many. Women sadly were worse then men, the continued nastiness of the average person out there just horrifies me. And it’s no better now – my kids are both constantly bullied because they don’t fit the norm. My son isn’t sporty and he dances (gasp) my daughter is 17 and doesn’t wear a ton of makeup to school so she’s picked on for being plain (I mean some of these girls wear more makeup to school than I wore tonight clubs in the 80s and 90s.-and I did a bit of a punk thing for while). I’m waiting for my first troll = I’m sure they’re out there lurking

  31. #36 by Deborah Makarios on June 3, 2015 - 6:34 pm

    I haven’t had a troll yet, but I have had someone making inappropriate comments. I let the first one fly – everyone has an off day – but when the second comment was in the same vein, I deleted them both. My blog, my rules🙂
    I did used to get bullied as a kid, though not physical bullying. We moved frequently, so I was able to remind myself that this person was simply a short blip in my life and fundamentally irrelevant. Plus I had great parents, a blessing I appreciate more and more as I get older.

  32. #37 by maryjocee on June 3, 2015 - 6:44 pm

    Bullies kill, maim, and/or strengthen their victims. It’s a g-awful predicament most of us suffer through and hopefully, learn how to diffuse. My bullies were a few teachers, nuns, and sadistic bravos (clean substitute for the bad noun) as bosses. When they can’t suck all the good out of life, they divert to easier victims. In a perfect world, their victims unite and pull them down like lions a wildebeest.

    Sharing your fights and victories over bullies helps us all work toward the defeat of our own.

  33. #38 by privatebloggergirl on June 3, 2015 - 8:37 pm

    Bullies are the bane of my life!
    Some are so horrid

  34. #39 by Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter on June 3, 2015 - 9:04 pm

    I never have any problems with bullies. My usual response is, ‘Why should I care?’ which usually confuses them. But I’ve got thick skin. Like a dinosaur.

    I have friends who have dropped off the internet because they couldn’t handle the abuse. That’s not good for a writer. You need the leverage that the internet can give you. Man, woman, it doesn’t matter. The trolls can make your life a hell if you let them.

    If you have problems, talk to the guy Kristen recommended. Get help. And join the WANA tribe.

    We Are Not Alone.

  35. #40 by Thomas Weaver on June 3, 2015 - 9:16 pm

    I was physically bullied for much of my life. I never found anything that worked at all for me except walking away and not giving them further opportunity to harm me. Not that it was always, or even usually, an option.There are authority figures who will not ALLOW the target to walk away from the bullies; they think it’s better to force the target to stand there and take it, because ‘They only hit you ’cause you’re weird and they don’t like you, so now you gotta face the consequences.’

    As for online bullying… I’ve never been the target of SERIOUS trolls. A few incidents with someone on a writing forum reporting me for “theft” of my own work. A random troll on Twitter saying my profile offended him. A bully on Goodreads who drove me away from several forums. I’ve never felt as if I was in any DANGER from internet bullies, though.

    I wish I knew what to tell friends who HAVE had serious problems with internet bullies. My way of dealing with that problem (as with most problems) isn’t really viable for most people, and besides, no one should have to run away and hide and abandon all the activities they love just so they don’t get hurt. No one should be told “Ignore them, and eventually they’ll get bored and stop.” Or “They don’t know where you live, so why do you care what they say to or about you online?”

  36. #41 by TamrahJo on June 3, 2015 - 11:20 pm

    Bravo! Could leave a thesis length comment here, that really should have been a post on my own blog, BUT, not at my best tonight and having all kinds of opinions and maybe-not-so nice stated reasons why bullies seem to proliferate through generations of human evolution –🙂 But an important enough topic to my heart, I couldn’t just hit the like button and not comment at all –🙂

  37. #42 by Mira Prabhu on June 4, 2015 - 1:58 am

    Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:
    Bullies are the lowest form of life in my opinion, and, what’re more, I don’t know any good-hearted human who would not agree. Bullies come in different sizes and guises – from the classic sneering school bully to the suave crook who blackmails or drives a victim to destruction — and now we have the Cyberbully! Kristen Lamb’s interesting post on this issue caught my attention – read on!!!

  38. #43 by rupytn on June 4, 2015 - 2:43 am

    Beautiful work as usual KL.

  39. #44 by Ali Isaac on June 4, 2015 - 3:36 am

    Great article Kristen! I am so sorry you went through so much pain in your life with bullying. What a hateful woman your colleague was… what on earth drives someone to behave this way? What a joyless existence they must have. I was bullied a lot at school, as was my sister. We joined halfway through the first year, so all the gangs, alliances and social groups had already been formed. We came from abroad. We looked, sounded different. No one wanted us in their circle. We were outsiders, like you say, loners although not by choice. That made us vulnerable. One set of bullies were stopped by my sister and I making a counter attack… well a confrontation, really. The second set when I got my first boyfriend. Weird, huh? I’ve never been bullied in the workplace though. Sounds like MyWANA does great work, well done! 😊

  40. #45 by ugiridharaprasad on June 4, 2015 - 4:31 am

    Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.

  41. #46 by sydneyjb on June 4, 2015 - 6:24 am

    I read and re-read and slept on it and wasn’t going to write, but I have to. I am going through being bullied now with a difficult divorce and a husband who trashed me to his family, people I thought were my family for 24 years but who now don’t speak to me. I am not sure who the bully is in this, my powerful husband who holds the financial cards and is unwilling to put money into the household account for me and our children, thereby causing me anxiety every waking moment. Perhaps his older sister who has whispered in everyone’s ear and along with my husband have caused my east coast family to shun me, or my brother-in-law who is a CPA and told my husband not to give me any spousal support. My smart 16-year-old son calls it the worst form of adult bullying, exclusion. I am trying to disengage, per your article, but I lash out with emails to which no one responds. Thanks for a timely article, Kristen. I am sorry for your horrible experience with that colleague. For my part, I keep wishing my father were alive or that I had an older brother to go punch my husband or one of my in-laws in the nose. Maybe I should start a freelance older brother service…ha, kidding.

    • #47 by Luke Kendall on June 7, 2015 - 1:15 pm

      Really sorry to hear that, Sydney. My take on it, FWIW, is that if the ‘exes’ can be so easily persuaded to treat you cruelly and unfairly, they can’t be very nice human beings, so in the long run you’re probably better off to be out of contact with them. That doesn’t help on the financial side of things. I hope the law will ensure that you can’t be cheated out of being dealt with fairly.
      And it sounds like you have a wonderful and supportive son. Stay strong, don’t let them get to you!

  42. #48 by Harry Heckel on June 4, 2015 - 7:15 am

    Absolutely wonderful post. As a former victim of bullying, this post really moved me. Thanks for being an inspiration.

  43. #49 by Susan P on June 4, 2015 - 8:14 am

    Excellent blog post. I got bullied in school, too, but since I was also bullied at home I did not think I could do anything about it.

  44. #50 by frenchc1955 on June 4, 2015 - 9:00 am

    Wow, this is an excellent, useful, and very — VERY–important post! I commend you for standing up to bullies. I despise bullies.

  45. #51 by J. Dominique on June 4, 2015 - 10:16 am

    I’ve been lucky enough to not really been bullied in school or the internet much before, but I do understand what it’s like to be put down and made to feel like you’re trash. It’s an awful experience. Like you, I really don’t understand what drives bullies to do what they do; I just don’t get it.

    Anyway, amazing post! Yours are always great, but this one really touched me. As writers, we’re bound to face a lot of hard criticism and we need to develop a thick skin, that’s for sure, but we also need to be able to discern between constructive criticism and straight-out hate and bullying. I know some people think that, by deleting their comments or blocking them, they’ve won. But we have the right to do that. In fact, more than a right, I would say there’s a need to do that — because such hate shouldn’t be anywhere near us to cloud our minds.

    Again, thanks for the awesome post!

  46. #52 by donnajeanmcdunn on June 4, 2015 - 10:36 am

    I’ve never been bullied in school or since, but I was lucky. I was the youngest girl and I had very protective parents, an older sister and two older brothers who would have taken them out. So far, online, I haven’t been bullied, but as you say, I haven’t been bullied yet. It’s good to know I still have backup when and if I need it. Thank you.

  47. #53 by Patricia Robertson on June 4, 2015 - 2:54 pm

    Thanks, Kristen, timely topic for me. My summer writing project involves revisiting high school. As I’ve been researching high school and its impact on us as adults, the topic of bullying keeps coming up. I’ve only experienced minor incidents of bullying. Clearly this topic strikes a chord with many people. Your post and the comments are helpful. I’m re-posting this on my facebook page.

  48. #54 by Sarah Brentyn on June 4, 2015 - 3:40 pm

    Bookmarking this one. Thank you for sharing, Kristen.

  49. #55 by lalouziane on June 4, 2015 - 5:14 pm

    Great article. I moved around a lot as a child. Every 2 1/2 to 3 months. That meant 3 to 4 schools per years. Sometimes the teachers didn’t even like us. I guess I developed a pretty thick skin from that. Fortunately, I was never bothered by bullies at school. At least, I never noticed it, if I was.

    However, at work, yes. There are some people who are so poisonous, they will literally destroy a company just to be petty and hurtful to someone.

    It amazes me. Maybe it was all the moving, but I am not afraid of conflict. If someone did some bullying, I had no problem calling them on it. It didn’t always stop, but it definitely called attention to their behavior. The sad truth is, many folks avoid conflict at the risk of even their own livelihood. I’ve seen that happen.

    Like I said, there is no way to make sense out of bullying. It’s a completely illogical action.

    I’m so sorry you suffered from that kind of thing, but I know it happens a lot.

  50. #56 by mitziflyte on June 4, 2015 - 5:39 pm

    Reblogged this on Mitzi Flyte and commented:
    This an unfortunate part of life on the internet and of being a writer.

  51. #57 by nairnmcintyre on June 4, 2015 - 6:49 pm

    Thanks for this post.

    I was bullied for some years while at high school, but I think I am one of the lucky ones who have grown stronger because of this. Like you I found support from my team mates on the football team and went on to spend 15 years protecting other people as paid employment.

    One of the bosses at my current job is a bully to some of the other staff but you can bet your bottom dollar he isn’t with me (I am now 6’3 and 275lbs). I am vocal about others standing up to him and frequently offer to accompany my colleagues into meetings with him.

    We need to stand together against bullying, be it physical, emotional or cyber and I will be looking at W.A.N.A to see if I can lend support to others.

    Thanks again

  52. #58 by blondeusk on June 5, 2015 - 12:32 am

    Great post! I was bullied at school and it’s awful. I was also bullied at work several times. Then I learnt to stand up for myself (learnt this in my 30s). I have had some bad experiences online and it is a learning process. Great informative post!

  53. #59 by YA Atrocities on June 5, 2015 - 8:56 am

    Thank you Kristen, that was a really illuminating post for me. Anyone who has the guts to publish their writing for the masses is deserving of respect. However, I do have one question regarding the concept of bullying through online reviews. In your opinion, where do you draw the line between a brutally honest review and a malicious troll review? My blog specialises in reviewing bad works of YA, and while I try not to be too cruel (unless the book truly offends me), my reviews are generally of a negative nature, often to a hyperbolic extent. However, sometimes I’m really unsure as to whether I’m going too far with my criticism or not. Therefore, in a reviewing context, what would you define as ‘bullying’? Many thanks in advance!

  54. #60 by mateekaquinn on June 5, 2015 - 9:05 am

    Thanks Kristen! I think the most valuable thing anyone has told me about writing for the web and avoiding negativity is DO NOT READ THE COMMENTS. I write for various websites and online magazines, and try to avoid the comments when I can, unless I sense some positivity or if I’m actually required to interact with commenters. Thanks for sharing this!

    • #61 by Stephanie Scott on June 5, 2015 - 11:16 am

      I frequently make the mistake of reading comments in news or opinion articles online. so many bad ones, especially Facebook. I have a few sites like this where I trust the comments to not be a cesspool of ignorance.

  55. #62 by Kev on June 5, 2015 - 10:21 am

    Excellent advice, Kristen… great cause!🙂

  56. #63 by Stephanie Scott on June 5, 2015 - 10:54 am

    I worked with an office bully. She was this petite woman in her 50s and everyone was afraid of her. She was supposed to train me for my position, and through that I realized she wasn’t very educated, though she knew our job position well. I think she used bullying as a way to cover up for when she didn’t catch on to things as quickly, and also as a tool for her racism, which became pretty obvious.

    This bully wanted me to report on the comings and goings of one of our teammates who I knew she resented because the person was young and black. This young, black professional also had a higher educational degree than the bully, and people liked her more, so you can see where this is going. I refused to do the bully’s bidding and told the person that the bully wanted me to spy on what was asked of me, in case she wanted to take it to HR. The bully also got mad at me for taking a new position that furthered my career because it meant more work for her, even though she never once helped me with my own work. Toxic people like that are just trying to control what they can’t.

  57. #64 by Alan H. on June 6, 2015 - 9:11 am

    Reblogged this on The Phlogisticated Mind and commented:
    This essay is definitely worth your time.

  58. #65 by Alan H. on June 6, 2015 - 9:18 am

    This is a fantastic post. Thank so much for taking the time to write and publish it.

    I wasn’t physically bullied much as a kid, but there was a lot of social bullying (if that’s even the proper term) until we moved from the city to the suburbs.

    As you mentioned, adult bullies are even worse. More subtle, more clever, more dangerous.

    Thanks again!

    God Bless,
    Alan H.
    http://phlogisticatedmind.wordpress.com

  59. #66 by Dawn Ross on June 6, 2015 - 4:31 pm

    Bullies. And some people wonder why I love my dogs so much. Great post! I haven’t had to deal with a lot of bullying as an adult, but life was hell when I was a kid. I often daydreamed about those bullies getting their just desserts. As I grew older, the daydreams turned into an entire imaginary world full of stories about the good guy always getting the better of the bad guys. As an adult, those stories got so great that I turned to writing in order to make them real, so to speak.

  60. #67 by Luke Kendall on June 7, 2015 - 1:40 pm

    Excellent article, Kristen – you had my jaw on the floor with the behaviour of the workplace bully in particular. For her to get away with it, she must have had support at higher levels of the organisation. I think that in that sense an organisation is like a small, closed society, and it shows the dangers any society faces from people with poisonous agendas if they’re left to spread like a rot. It’s not just freedom that has the price of eternal vigilance, it’s decency in general.
    You know those recent scientific articles about how people who score highly on the sociopathy scale can sometimes do very well in businesses, since in the business context, ruthlessness and getting ahead is often rewarded? I think it ties in to bullying behaviours – hunger for power and control.
    A worrying related thought also occurred to me: organisations, as collections of intelligent human beings working together, can in principle act like an intelligent group-entity. In many parts of the law, they’re even granted the same rights as individuals. Now consider that since new members can replace old, an organisation can in principle continue forever. Consider also that organisations aren’t held to the same moral or ethical code as individuals. In fact, they’re required by law to be profitable and to maximise the return for their shareholders. So we’ve created these artificial collective creatures that are potentially both immortal and ruthless and can grow to be very large and powerful. To me it seems there’s a gap in our regulatory framework. We should have a “three laws of robotics” or some other legislated social conscience which large businesses must comply with. I think that would make it harder for the sociopath to thrive, and help provide an inhospitable environment for a culture of bullying to develop. I think the same unhappy forces can infect any organisation, not just businesses. The Royal Commission into institutional child abuse here in Australia has been quite an awful eye opener. We do well to shine light on any kind of predatory behaviour.
    Sorry, I’m ranting – my excuse is that it’s 4:30am and my coughing-cold won’t let me sleep.

    I did want to add that Maisie Williams in The Cyberbully is absolutely riveting viewing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYk_TXBTM5I

  61. #68 by katrinavanwagenen on June 9, 2015 - 10:49 pm

    I’m posting this on Facebook. ..I vote it goes viral!!!! My mom’s health has gone down the tubes because of two women bullies in her workplace. This article was great even for non-writers. Thank you😊

  62. #69 by keriaventblog on June 10, 2015 - 7:34 am

    This is such a nice post to read! Knowing that others realise how horrible bullying can get – even when the bully doesn’t realise! I’ve always wanted to start a blog, but I’ve been too scared because of what people think, so thank you for the tips on how to overcome this🙂

  63. #70 by Julie Anderson on June 11, 2015 - 11:51 am

    Kristen,
    This article really struck a cord with me. Your experience as a child and then later in your work environment is heart wrenching. I often wonder when “they will get theirs” I know that thinking this way is not mature, but like you I have been a “victim” of bullying. The worst of the abuse has come my way via one of my in-laws. The second worst case of abuse has recently been dished onto my lap by a very close friend. As per cyber bullying – that is a new and nasty page in my book of experiences as well. I really don’t know what is worse, a faceless bully or one that is bold enough to get in your face. http://femininecollective.com/nightmare-facebook-friends-stories/

  64. #71 by Cherie O'Boyle on June 18, 2015 - 10:02 pm

    Wow! I hope life has gotten way better for you. Question: if you don’t use reviews, how do you choose a new read?

  65. #73 by ariefarnam on June 19, 2015 - 2:34 pm

    The WANA tribe is a wonderful idea but I have gone and looked at the site and on Facebook a number of times and I can’t see any activity there or what one can do to be involved. I really would like to find other authors who are seriously interested in supporting one another. I don’t see any other way in the current, fairly harsh climate. I agree that Goodreads is a rough one. I managed to get through the initial dive in for reviews without too much flack but I could see the writing on the wall. I haven’t been back for awhile. If anyone knows of other places where reviewers gather in order to get R4R copies, please post.

    • #74 by Author Kristen Lamb on June 20, 2015 - 9:09 am

      We are a lot more active on Twitter at #WANATribe. Also, summer tends to get a bit quieter with school getting out.

    • #75 by Ellen Seltz on May 30, 2016 - 11:38 am

      WANAtribe definitely goes through cycles of busy/quiet. Keep checking back, there’s lots of nice people there, and many useful resources you can follow up on anytime. I’ve also connected with folks by commenting on an older post of theirs, and then they will get back to me via email or other social media. It’s a good hub.

  66. #76 by aurorajeanalexander on June 22, 2015 - 3:00 pm

    I too belong to the ones who had been bullied in school and later at work as well. It’s extremely hard to overcome and it’s very, very painful.
    One day I might tell you about. Cyber bullying belongs into the same category and it can ruin careers before they started.

  67. #77 by Paul on July 3, 2015 - 8:53 pm

    Thank you so much for your post. I use to forecast weather on FB. I too know exactly what it means to be cyber bullied…There were multiple people that signed up that would just harrass me for missing a thunderstorm by 15 minutes…
    Twice I and the NWS called for major snow events. I actually changed the call ahead of the NWS and the hatred was insane. It was like I wasn’t allow to change my forecast to free up their day.
    I also went through an experience like this at Target in 2005. I was to be promoted in two weeks to overnight manager. The store manager a female literally ripped me a new one over numbers I had no impact on influencing but she wanted it fixed. I wasn’t even a manager yet…my thing is if they tell you it’s business and not personal over and over then it’s personal.
    Thanks again.

  68. #78 by triciabarkernde on May 28, 2016 - 10:18 pm

    Thank you so much for your tips. I haven’t been bullied since junior high, but now that I started a blog in my forties it seems bullying is a possibility again. I wrote about my response to a bully in this post. She has stalked me on all fronts, using several different profiles. I took down a post at first, but then I reposted it…owning my experience. Bullies shouldn’t win. https://triciabarkernde.com/2016/05/29/bullies-trolls-exes-and-whateves/

  1. Brave New Bullying—How to Protect Yourself from Cyberbullying | ugiridharaprasad
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