Last week, Channel 4 aired a chilling drama titled Cyberbully starring Maisie Williams (of Game of Thrones fame) as teenager Casey who falls prey to online trolling and bullying. I say chilling for a few reasons… For a start, Casey is an online troll herself so when she becomes the victim of an anonymous cyberbully, you can see her struggle with the shift in roles very clearly. Things go from playful to sinister very quickly and I found myself gripped and waiting to see what would happen to Casey. It was a pretty intense little movie and Maisie Williams played the role, shot in real time with her bedroom as the only set, brilliantly.
To go along with all of that, I’ve had my own experience with cyberbullying. I’ve mentioned my experience a few years ago back after a brief flare up in 2012. Even so, I want to get my story out there again because it’s important to me.
For me, the torment came in many forms–but mainly through emails, instant messages, myspace and Facebook. Whoever this person was, they knew a lot about me. They knew about conversations I had, when I was on the phone, my passwords, my friends’ screen names and email addresses. They knew things that they couldn’t possibly know without actually being in the room with me.
It turns out, they kind of were.
Like Casey’s character in Cyberbully, this person hacked my webcam and microphone. They could see me and listen to me whenever they wanted–even when I wasn’t in front of my computer. They knew where things were in my bedroom, knew when my phone rang… I didn’t know all of that until close to the end of the ordeal which made it all the more scary for me. They also had me key logged, which meant they could see everything I typed from passwords to bank details.
It was a dark time for me. I was afraid to be home alone because I didn’t know whether this person knew my address or not and whether they actually wanted to hurt me. I didn’t sleep some nights and every single noise prompted me to check out the window or make sure my bedroom door was locked. They impersonated several of my friends, leading me to believe different people were responsible. I trusted no one. They even sent anonymous texts to my phone.
I spent nearly a year like that, living in fear. In hindsight I should have gone to the police. I wish I had. But I didn’t think they would do anything. I should have talked to someone–anyone–but I didn’t. I am now.
If you’re suffering from Cyberbullying or online abuse, please don’t stay silent like I did. There are loads of places online to seek help–I’ve included just a few below:
Help with cyberbullying (USA link)
NHS information on cyberbullying (UK link)
Help with bullying (UK link)
If you’re interested in getting in touch, tweet me at @stephanie_khani or email me at emailthelondondiaries [at] gmail.com!