Today’s anonymous post is about online bullying.  As our use of social media mushrooms it’s a subject that is becoming increasingly relevant.

We obviously need to be aware of it in relation to our children and how they use the internet, but it’s also something that could affect us, as adults.

Here’s one blogger’s story.

Please show her your support. Thanks

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I’ve really deliberated over writing this post. It’s not a positive one. But maybe by writing it I can help other people who find themselves in the same situation.

This post is about online bullying. I know we prefer not to talk about it or write about it, and I don’t want to worry or frighten people. But I also believe that when bullying happens we need to speak up.

I’ve been blogging long enough to have encountered a bit of sniping in the blogging community, it happens and you can ignore it. The word ‘bullying’ gets misused a bit. People sometimes claim to be bullied when really they’ve just had a bad fallout with someone.

What is bullying? It’s an unprovoked attack on someone, designed to intimidate them and make them fearful. When carried out online, it’s psychological abuse. Bullies want control over their victims. Sometimes they’re nice to them so they can leave them nervous about when the next attack is going to come.

Recently I was bullied online. It came from another blogger who I know and have met. It was that blatant. It was from someone who perhaps considers herself untouchable, she didn’t even feel the need to do it anonymously. I’ve no doubt she’s done it to other people, she’ll probably continue to do it.

Why did she do it? I’m not completely sure. I think the attack was designed to keep me in my place. Bullies lash out when something in your behaviour, appearance or personality arouses a feeling of inadequacy in them. They want you to feel as bad as they feel.

How did it make me feel? When I read the words on my screen I could hardly believe them to begin with. Then I felt cold, shivery and very sick. I didn’t sleep well that night. I still find it hard to believe this person would do this.

But on the whole I can shrug this off. I’ve been bullied at school and I’ve been bullied at work. I’ve also been sexually harassed at work (another form of bullying). Having been a victim of this before I’ve spent many hours analysing why someone becomes a bully. My main conclusion is that bullies are insecure, unhappy, unfulfilled people. How bad must you feel about yourself to spend so much time trying to make other people unhappy?

When you become a victim you often blame yourself for what happened. You wonder if you’d done something differently then maybe the incident wouldn’t have taken place. I know I’ve done it in the past. But a victim is entirely innocent. No one ever deserves to be bullied, no one ever brings it upon themselves.

So how did I handle this? I could have pressed the ‘print screen’ button and posted the evidence of the bullying on my blog. But that would just create uproar, division and a lot of antagonism. This bully has a lot of friends. Have you noticed that about bullies? They surround themselves with people who are presumably too scared to be on the wrong side of them.

I responded to the attack in a calm, measured way. I didn’t ignore it because I didn’t want to show I was running off scared. But I didn’t get angry either. If anything, online bullying is easier to manage than bullying in the playground or office. It’s less immediate, you have time to think about how you’ll deal with it. I don’t know if the bully will try this again. That’s part of the bully’s power isn’t it? Will she leave me alone or try something else?

I’m not naming and shaming because it can degenerate into mud slinging and a lot of other people start to get involved. Bullying happens in all walks of life and we’ll never be rid of it. But I will stand up to my bully, I’m not intimidated and I’m not scared. I’ve been through worse in life. I’m confident and have self-belief, I don’t need some screwed up person trying to bring me down with them.

It’s just as well I can handle this. What if I were suffering from PND? What if I were trying to cope with a difficult family situation? If there were other distress in my life this incident could have brought me down. Who would look after my children while I was in this state? Do bullies even think about this? No, they think only of themselves.

My message to other people who are bullied: you are not alone. I understand how you feel. I know what it’s like when you start to believe what your bully says to you. I understand what it’s like when other people make you lose your confidence and self-esteem. I was there some time ago, but I’m getting older now and I’ve learnt to believe in myself. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel bad about yourself. If you feel alone, talk to someone. Vent your feelings. Write an anonymous blog post like I have. Understand that many people are there with you and would give you a hug if they could. Don’t ever let a bully bring you down. I know I won’t.

Online Bullying – A blogger’s tale
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40 thoughts on “Online Bullying – A blogger’s tale

  • August 10, 2010 at 7:06 am
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    Sadly this sort of thing seems to be on the increase. As a sufferer of anxiety, I can mis understand the written word very easily & that can cause me grief but to having an out right attack of bullying against me – goodness knows how it would affect me. You won’t work out why because there won’t be a rational reason. Your summing up of what a bully is is absolutely correct. I’m glad you are dealing with it. Bullies rely on people being too frightened to do anything. Thank you for sharing & well done for being so brave!

  • August 10, 2010 at 7:23 am
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    Gosh. This is a thought provoking post.
    Having just had a few irate comments on my blog i know how upsetting anything negative can be. And that is a drop in the ocean compared to actual bullying.
    I would so love to name and shame,but you never know how other people will react. They put you in such a nervous, cautious position that you start to wonder whether others will support them, rather than you. Whether you’ve actually done something wrong and others will see it.
    WRiting a blog makes you feel vulnerable.
    AS for bullys having friends. I’ve usually found you find out they haven’t really. Those people are just indifferent and not prepared to take a stand until they are in the firing line.

    Thanks for sharing.

    M2M

  • August 10, 2010 at 7:27 am
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    A bully, a tapped head and an internet connection are a dangerous thing. I was harassed by someone who used to send abusive emails, taunt me on other people’s blogs, and set up ‘anonymous’ blogs abusing me, painting themselves as a victim, and even in one blog, being racist. At one point I became scared of opening my email. And then I stopped internalising their behaviour, realised they were outrageous, refused to respond or try to rationalise with the irrational and reported them to the police. You tend to find that it’s not the first incident, hence why they ended up doing a spell inside due to harassing someone else. I’ve been taken aback by some of the outrageous behaviour of some people within the ‘community’ and I can only imagine that they actually just don’t realise how far over the line they are or they think their henchmen cronies will protect them. They won’t and these people invariably get found out. Thanks for sharing and I’m sorry that you’ve experienced this but glad you don’t engage or give them anymore power than they deserve.

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  • August 10, 2010 at 7:47 am
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    Congrats for dealing with a really difficult situation so well. You are right to write this anonymously, so people can think about the core issue rather than the whys and wherefores of who said what to who. Standing up to a bully is hard. But we all know that bullies don’t like people who can stand up to them, so it is the right thing to do. However, as you say, if the bully gets you when you are feeling vulnerable or insecure it is so much more difficult to do.

    I wonder if some people don’t fully appreciate how they can come across as bullies. It is so easy to forget how easy it is for the written word to be misinterpreted from how it was originally intended. Also, writing something in the blogosphere is very different to making a quick comment to a friend. The comment is there, heard by one person and then gone. The blogosphere comment is there forever, can be read by anyone (including those it was never originally intended for) and can easily become a whole other fracas. It is easy to forget that. People say that you should never write anything on the internet that you wouldn’t post on a notice board at work/the school gates.

    Brave post, tackling a really important issue. I hope it makes everyone think. Like you say you’ll never eradicate bullying but it would be fabulous to be able to minimise it in our little corner of the blogosphere.

  • August 10, 2010 at 8:33 am
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    I’ve received a couple of pretty vicious emails during my blogging time and they made me feel absolutely terrible. One was at a time when my son was very ill.

    I think these people have no idea of the potential consequences of their actions.

    I’m so sorry that you went through this x

  • August 10, 2010 at 9:20 am
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    I think that it is only as we all realise that we are all responsible for when this happens (to help stop it not for causing it!) that we will see an end to it.

    Thanks for sharing your story. 🙂

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  • August 10, 2010 at 9:25 am
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    I’m new to blogging and I haven’t encountered online bullying as yet. I think you dealt with the bully well, better than I probably could, I tend to rise to bait. However you’ve given some food for thought and some there are some really good tips on how to deal with online bullying. Thank you for sharing. Sorry that it had to happen to you x

  • August 10, 2010 at 9:31 am
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    Thank you whoever you are for speaking up.
    Perhaps it’s time we did start to name and shame.
    Perhaps if people went public then they would start to be believed.
    The insecurity thing is at the heart of the bully’s actions I think, as is the surrounding themselves with friends, or should I say ‘dangling sweets’.
    Some people are very emotionally needy, they lash out and then attempt to justify themselves. They are vulnerable and crave attention.
    Take no notice, hold your head high and relish all that you do have, congratulate yourself that you don’t have their issues and move on, as you are, surrounded with love.

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  • August 10, 2010 at 9:44 am
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    Very good post. So sorry to hear this has happened to you, or to anyone else for that matter.

    I agree with all the points above: it is so easy to ‘hide’ (for want of a better term) behind a screen and type away, venting your frustration or ire at someone else who might hold different views or opinions from your own. Even putting a real name to the comment does not show the bully in a better light. It shows their true colours.

    The key is never to hit the ‘send’ button in anger.

    Sadly bullies do not know the difference. I pity them.

    Well done for sharing this with us all. I wish you continued strength and discipline with your writing – and commenting!

    LCM x

  • August 10, 2010 at 9:46 am
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    And looking at PippaD’s comment above.
    Yes we are all responsible, especially when our egos, our own agendas, or fear stop us doing the right thing.

  • August 10, 2010 at 9:58 am
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    I think I am probably still a bit naive about these things. I seem to miss all the big “scandals” or they just fly right over my head.

    I find that it is very easy to misinterpret what people say online. They may misunderstand you, you might misunderstand them or the tone of the wording.

    I am sure there is bullying going on as well and I do agree with your assessment of bullies in general.

    Wouldn’t it be great if people were just honest with one another in a nice way? We don’t have to like everyone but I do believe we should treat everyone with the respect and dignity we would want to be treated with.

  • August 10, 2010 at 10:23 am
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    An excellent post. I’ve become increasingly disquieted by the personal attacks I see going on around me. In real life, a bit of sniping might happen behind people’s backs, but it’s usually well controlled and relatively minor. Online, things seem to be getting out of hand in our so-called community. I now only trust people I know are my friends. I’m glad that you seems to be dealing so admirably with this, and thankyou for highlighting it in such a thoughtful and level headed way.

  • August 10, 2010 at 10:35 am
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    Well done for being so brave and for writing such an open and thought provoking post. I think you have handled this situation admirably; what goes around comes around and I am certain that this person is not the rounded and grounded person you obviously are.

  • August 10, 2010 at 10:40 am
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    I’m so sorry you had to go through this. You are such a lovely, warm and talented blogger who just writes the most beautiful blog and your experience makes me very cross. I’ve been the victim of insiduous online bullying myself recently so I can totally relate. I’m sending you lots and lots of love xxx

  • August 10, 2010 at 10:52 am
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    I agree with Susue above, I think I am a bit naieve and miss the bullying that goes on, it goes over my head, perhaps that’s why I’ve never been bullied – or at least knowingly. Someone would have to come and directly say to me that they didn’t like me or whatever. On the other hand, I’m worried now in case I have ever inadvertantly posted a comment that has cause others distress? When I tweet things they’re meant in a light hearted way and certainly NEVER intended to upset anyone. I know the tone of voice in my head when I write something, but what if the recipient isn’t on the same wavelength? Or as the blogger says, suffering from PMT or depression or facing financial problems? Because of this I will certainly check my tweets extra carefully before pressing ‘send’.

  • August 10, 2010 at 11:42 am
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    Seconding what Liz said really, it’s really hard what you guys have gone through recently, it makes me sad it’s happened to such a lovely, positive person. As you say I think it’s a result of jealousy and insecurity. The crazy thing is I think this bully has genuinely, in her head, set herself up as a victim.

    Well, nil desperandum, don’t let the soandsosdrag you down as Mum would say. It’s a shame that 1% of people on the internet can have such a disproportiately negative impact, just remember that many people out there are genuinely lovely.

    All my supports! Cx

  • August 10, 2010 at 1:43 pm
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    What a brave post. I’ve had to deal with someone like that. They criticise me publicly, accused me of doing all sorts of horrible things (in public) and have even contacted people I work with to badmouth me. I’ve had some great advice from some fabulous people, and it’s all been: ‘rise above it’ – bullies and people of their ilk think that bad words won’t come back to them, but believe me, all spitefulness does is reflect badly on the person that dishes it out. All I’ve heard about that person is negative comments.

    Be who you are, carry on holding your head up high, and ignore the haters. And know that our community as a whole is strong, caring and supportive. xx

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  • August 10, 2010 at 7:54 pm
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    Great post, big big big well done for writing it – and rising above.
    Wouldn’t it be great if we had the distance our laptops give us back when we were in the playground having names thrown at us and no time to consider our responses.
    However, the internet does lend itself to abuse.
    I always try and remember that if I say something about someone I’d be happy to say that to their face – it’s not always easy but I really try and stick to it, however much someone upsets me. It means that if I do get into a confrontational sitatution I know anything I say to them comes from me or I’ve said it in honest – if that makes sense! It’s a bit of an aside from bullying but it’s all link – sometimes you think people you really trust will stand by you, and then they jump in and start mixing up trouble. It’s really sad.
    Well done once again, you know I think you’re damn special lovely!
    x

  • August 10, 2010 at 8:13 pm
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    This is such a brave post. I’ve also seen a lot of online bullying over the last year, and having been a victim of it myself in childhood it’s made me back away from certain areas of the blogosphere in a huge way. I don’t think I have anymore to add to what you’ve said you’ve put it so well. I hope it’s been cathartic. Big hugs, hold your chin up high and go forward. And thanks so much for sharing this. I imagine it could really help a lot of people.

  • August 10, 2010 at 8:27 pm
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    The internet is such an efficient tool for the bully. Attacks are immediate and happen in full and frank view of everyone watching, which may be hundreds or thousands of people. You are made of strong stuff to stand up to your abuser. As for the perpetrator, I found this:

    “The anger of a bully is especially apparent when they come across someone who can see through them to espy the weak, inadequate, immature, dysfunctional aggressive individual behind the mask.”

    Very true. Good post, deserving of much praise.

  • August 11, 2010 at 12:34 pm
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    This post really made me stop and think. I’ve seen things going on, particularly on Twitter and often wondered whether to say anything or not – I’m sure many others have too.

    I’m referring mainly to the tweets that are obviously directed at ‘someone’ without identifying who that someone is. Whilst they are most likely to be completely unrelated to the other folk in the timeline, it often doesn’t feel that way. If you’re in a vulnerable state of mind it’s easy to feel like they’re directed at you.

    That’s not bullying per se but another illustration of how easy it is to cause distress online. It also made me question whether I’ve ever made anyone feel uncomfortable by something I’ve tweeted or said in a comment and I really hoped I haven’t. Bullying is malicious, and comes from a place of weakness and insecurity – we all know this but it doesn’t make us feel any better when it’s happening to us.

    I think the whole issue with online bullying is that it exposes how fragile our online friendships can be – it makes us question who we can trust, wonder if people might be setting us up in some way – basically brings out the worst of our paranoid leanings!

    I’m so sorry that this happened to you, but glad that you were able to come out the other side – I hope that by focusing on it we can work to eradicating the problem.

    Pxx

  • August 11, 2010 at 1:01 pm
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    I’m really impressed with this post, it was a good thing to do to raise the subject and put it out there, so to speak.
    Bullying is so common, it’s not talked about enough in my opinion. I myself feel so passionate about the subject that it’s formed part of the storyline in my first novel.
    There is a fabulous website available to anyone who is being bullied in any way. Please do visit if you are suffering. You are not alone: http://www.bullying.co.uk/

  • August 13, 2010 at 7:52 am
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    A few weeks ago things came to a head for me when every day there were new emails from people who were upset by stuff they had read online or felt hurt, insulted or under attack.

    I know people turn to me because they trust me and for that reason I would never say any more about what it was that had been written or why it was that at that particular time they felt upset.

    But I will say this:

    Please do not get sucked in to online spats if you can help it, sadly some people are wind-up merchants who thrive on such dramas.

    Please do not believe all you read.

    Please remember at all times that your real life friends and your family who know you and love you may well be a better ‘sounding board’ or listening ear for your concerns rather than someone you only know from an online persona, which may or may not be accurate.

    Please do step away from the computer and live your life and remember what the important things are.

    Do not under any circumstances feel under pressure to blog or to keep up with the latest list from any type of social media agency or media consultant, these lists are put together to appeal to PR people and are no reflection whatsoever on you as a blogger or writer.

    If someone upsets you either tackle them in private about it or leave them to it and ignore it, don’t let it eat away at you, you are better than that.

  • August 13, 2010 at 9:46 am
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    I have held back from commenting on this post but I think I really must. This brought back so many memories for me that I nearly blogged about it but for now, the right words won’t come. Every time I try, my eyes fill with tears, the emotion rises in me and overtakes my ability to write coherent words.

    At school, I was subjected to a very subtle form of psychological bullying by a group of girls, led by one in particular. There were no particular “incidents” that I could report, and anyway, they were all girls who were popular with teachers and pupils alike because they were all talented at sports and represented the school. I wasn’t, because I was the fat kid but bright academically.

    I could go for months without anything happening and then it would start. I used to avoid these people (sometimes that was easier than others) and protected myself, but it destroyed my self-confidence at a critical age and I threw myself more into my studies. I kept a small group of friends that I knew I could trust around me but they were pretty powerless to protect me when they started on me. But it was a horrible time – even writing these words now, I have tears streaming down my face.

    I have never allowed it to happen again, but it was a long time before the internet was in common usage. I know that it is much much easier to be subtle in bullying online. I have had verbal attacks on me online – after all, I used to be a mod on a busy discussion board, it goes with the territory – but I will not allow someone to get to me, even if it means walking away from some situations every once in a while. No-one is ever going to affect me like that again.

    Why am I writing this? I guess this is my ham-fisted way of saying I hear ya; I know what pain it can cause. I’m glad you dealt with it calmly. Well done for what you did, my admiration for you and this post is huge.

    I’m sorry if this is garbled but I am not necessarily 100% coherent now. Every now and then, things come back and bite you on the bum when you least expect it, don’t they?

  • August 13, 2010 at 1:36 pm
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    I’m so sorry you’ve had this horrible experience. Somehow attacks seem all the more pointed when they come right into the heart of your home via the computer. But, as Linda says, there is a real world out there with real people who love you, and the vast majority of bloggers are good people – that’s what I’ve hung on to at times when I’ve found blogging getting too stressful. A big hug to you, whoever you are, and thanks for posting xx

  • August 13, 2010 at 7:24 pm
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    This is not the sort of post you can read and run. It deserves praise and thought.

    I am struck by your dignity when dealing with such a situation. It must have taken a lot of will and strength to have do so.

    I think that it is important to raise such issues; it is through this that awareness is increased and those of us who find such behaviour abhorrent can support one another and react appropriately.

    An excellent, thought provoking post.

  • August 13, 2010 at 7:46 pm
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    What a well written post. Respect to you for not naming anyone and just highlighting the fundamental issues. (((hugs))) I am pleased to read that you are keeping perspective and seem able to deal with this. Mich x

  • August 13, 2010 at 7:54 pm
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    I hopped over here from It’s a Mummy’s Life and I just can’t believe that people do this. I don’t have a lot of followers and I am grateful for the small amount of comments I get, and I haven’t seen any of this before. I have seen people write some comments that disagree with what I’ve written, but it is usually done in a way that make me laugh (it’s only someone else’s opinion) or is serious and I can accept it. I haven’t seen any bullying. It upsets me to think that people do this, and I hate to think of someone not sleeping well at night because of it.

    Why oh why … -HMx

  • August 13, 2010 at 7:56 pm
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    I typed in my website wrongly doh so I expect any links will be wrong in the comment above! -HMx

  • August 13, 2010 at 9:09 pm
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    I’m of the ‘ignore’ sorority – I do think that if you ignore trolls/cyber-bullies etc, they can’t get their kicks out of you. I’ve been on a lot of forums and belonged to a lot of online communities over the years and honestly, nothing stops bullies quicker than depriving them of their oxygen – attention.
    Having said that, it is horrible – and leaves a really nasty taste in your mouth. You have to hang onto the thought that people who bully usually do so out of a very deeply ingrained lack of worth and self-esteem. They boost their fragile egos by doing others down. It’s really rather sad and tragic….
    I’m really sorry you’ve had to deal with this….and hope it doesn’t suck the joy out of blogging for you. 🙁
    Janex

  • August 14, 2010 at 6:26 pm
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    Like others I’m in awe of your courage in writing this piece, because, like others I’ve been bullied and I know how miserable it can make you.

    I’m so sorry you’ve gone through this and I hope that it hasn’t taken away your joy in blogging. I sort of wish I knew who you were so I could go and write you a lovely supportive comment in place of anything horrid….

  • August 14, 2010 at 8:54 pm
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    Well done for speaking out….it’s something that definitely shouldn’t be tolerated and the fact that you aren’t encouraging the mud slinging etc makes you the much bigger person!! I haven’t noticed too much of this going on but then I tend to inhabit my own quiet little corner of the blogosphere!!! Hope that you will still continue blogging and that the problem is now resolved xx

  • August 15, 2010 at 8:16 pm
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    i’m so sorry you have been through this and anyone else who has been a victim of such a horrid thing. I was bullied at school for many years for being fat etc and it made me feel horrid and i’d like to believe that now i’m an adult it would never happen to me again. obviously bullying still can happen even when you are an adult, i’ve not come across any nastiness towards me (yet) but reading how many people it has effected i am getting nervous about having to ‘expect’ it some day. I love blogging i would hate anyone who would want to ruin that for me or anyone else xx

  • February 21, 2011 at 11:43 pm
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    Wow, this part really hit home..

    “Bullies lash out when something in your behaviour, appearance or personality arouses a feeling of inadequacy in them. They want you to feel as bad as they feel.”

    Thank you for publishing this article. I’m passing it along to some others.

  • March 22, 2011 at 12:16 pm
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    Thank you for your post and as a blogger, I want to say that online bullying is wrong and people who bully need to get a life.

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