I completely understand why people think I’m strange, weird, or crazy. Don’t you worry, I’ve thought that about myself plenty of times. In fact I’m really comfortable in calling myself a weirdo now. Why you might ask? Well, I think, walk and talk faster than most people I know, and can be easily distracted. I’ve always had a busy mind that can take me off in a whole stack of directions and acknowledge this may send a message of disinterest while conversing. Which of course isn’t (more…)
Amy Cuddy TED talkI just watched this brilliant Amy Cuddy TED talk and it got me thinking and confidence and power imbalances. Yes our body language shapes who we are, but language and syntax matter a whole lot too. Fake it til you make it used to be a mantra of mine while I was building my confidence especially (more…)
My sister sent me the link to this article suggesting it might help locate some context to a 40 month nightmare I recently lived through. This research most certainly shaped up some clearer distinctions for me in regards to my own revolting, prolonged cyberstalking experience. Having been a target of varying levels of abuse both on and offline in my 5 decades, these distinctions have now helped me contextualise my experience from a removed perspective.
First and foremost, being clear about the troubled mind of either a Troll or Cyberstalker helps. Knowing how to appropriately deal with the situation is another thing altogether. Having addressed many perpetrators of either my own abuse or other people’s shitty experiences, I realise now that the way in which I initially tried to deal with my cyberstalker, who just happens to be biologically related and consciously excommunicated, didn’t help.
There were varying complexities in my experience due to the perpetrator being someone I once knew. Initially I made excuses and genuinely told myself things like “he doesn’t realise what he’s doing”, “he’s not coping with life therefore lashing out at me” or “he’s off his face on drugs again” etc. And I only told a few people – it certainly wasn’t the kind of conversation I wanted to share given my passion for helping people be the very best version of themselves possible. Ultimately, I became extremely anxious and for quite a while, internalised and personalised his attacks.
Until it got really nasty. His posting passive threats on my social media channels ‘to expose me’ for what I’ll never know, but left me in a constant state of hyper vigilance. Phoning our elderly parents claiming no comprehension of why I had excluded him from my life left me flumoxed. His befriending people I had made friends with on social media channels and proceeding to post to all and sundry that I had a mental health problem and had always been unstable was disconcerting.
And all of this from someone with a chronic drug habit, hasn’t been in paid employment for nearly 2 decades, has been incarcerated and suffers chronic paranoia.
Sadly he was at his worst when I was recovering from a chronic health crisis and very vulnerable. Blocking email accounts, deleting inappropriate posts, emailing colleagues apologising, creating new social media profiles only to discover he’d followed me there and having to block/delete all over again was exhausting. Arranging new private phone numbers, removing phone numbers from my website and all online business profiles, contacting close family and friends with each phone/email change and trying to stay sane, run a new business and live a lovely life all required time, effort and energy.
On reflection, earlyy access to this research which suggests “rather than primarily taking pleasure in their behaviour, stalkers (including cyberstalkers) are more likely to be highly distressed and angry with the victim. While they may get secondary pleasure from it, stalkers who intimidate or threaten usually have the very specific purpose of expressing their negative feelings and making the victim feel as bad as they do.” probably would have helped reduce a lot of fear and anxiety.
This second piece of research did however leave me reflecting on childhood memories of this stalker bullying me as a child – to which my parents and others recollect. I acknowledge he was trying to deal with harrowing experiences of his own abuse, however I can’t for the life of me fathom why he chose me as his target even as youngsters. I get it that as an adult his explosive internal anger at me speaking out about my own sexual abuse left him feeling frustrated and angry at not having addressed his own devastating experiences. I really do. And I understand why he wants me to feel as bad as he does about himself.
Bu I draw the line at being a willing recipient of his unresolved misdirected emotions and feeling like the bullseye on his own private dart board.
And yes, I chose a number of considered responses before proceeding and lost countless hours contemplating and self questioning ‘Will this help? Will this aggravate? Who else will this impact? What might come as a result of this response? And yes, I collected evidence and yes I contacted local and federal police. And yes I informed my loved ones when I had moments of fearing retribution. (At one point he threatened to fly from interstate and come to my home, and on notifiying local police about this I was told there was nothing I could do until he arrived.)
And yes I still live with the reality of knowing that at any given point in time he may return to his poisonous behaviour.
The good news is, I learned a whole lot from this, and have enormous gratitude for the gifts I can take out of what was once a torturous ordeal. You see while my original fears escalated and impacted on my personal and professional life, I had to dig deep to manage myself. Some of the best strategies that supported me through this nightmare was to:
- continue to learn how to love and look after myself,
- remind myself that I have no control over anyone else’s behaviour,
- practice Ho-Oponopono and EFT,
- seek professional help – talking to the NT and Federal Police about cyber stalking was fabulous,
- stop keeping it a secret and share my experience where appropriate,
- stop taking responsibility for other people’s bad behaviour,
- stop worrying about what other people think about me,
- speak directly on the phone with the perpetrator, in my parents presence, clearly stating enough is enough,
- close the chapter as a learning experience.
Being able to write about this now is cathartic. Abusive relationships, in this case cyberstalking, helped changed the way I think, feel and behave, let alone the way I write and connect online. I’m far more discerning now, and a little less naive. And I’ve learned how to stand strengthened in my vulnerabilities.
It’s helped me stand tall and proud of who I am and to honour my perfect imperfections. And it helped me stay 600% accountable for every word I speak or publish.
Finally, it helped me determine what matters most in life. Worrying what other people think about me or what might happen next is like allowing thieves to rob me of vital energy resources – and I can’t stand thieves. I’ve learned to give every person on this planet permission to think whatever they like about me because that’s their business. By focusing on what I think about me, well that’s my business. My creed in life is to do no further harm, and to thine ownself be true.
So in answer to my own question, no. The experience of being cyberstalked was not a good thing and I wouldn’t wish in on anyone. But have I learned and grown from it? Yes.
ps I just found a disparaging comment on my 2011 TEDxDarwin talk which I suspect has been left by my cyberstalker. Typical of his chosen language, and the creation of a fake profile, the comments are in stark contrast to others – and had very little impact on me!
Bron Clee 18th March 2014
Well, I’m kinda excited and with good reason! But first let me tell you what B.H.A.A stands for: Big, Hairy, Audacious Aspirations! Why now you might say? It’s not the beginning of the new year is it? No, it’s not. You see I’ve done some more work on my business model and given that I simply adore collaboration, I’ve teamed up with some amazing Darwin based (more…)