Unhappy Endings. My Goodbye To Charlotte Dawson.

24 Feb

When I attended my school reunion, I found out that the boy who taunted me for a whole year when I was 12, was secretly in love with me. It wasn’t until my mum stepped in and told him that I could use my Judo skills to waste him, that he stopped.

Bullies like to bring down those who they see or experience as a threat to them. If they can’t have what you have, whether that be a kind heart, a gorgeous body, a particular talent, a life in the public eye, fame or fortune, then you may become their target. If you reject them or answer back, it’s likely to subject you to relentless hounding, and increase the attacks and abuse. If you go head to head with them and overly stand up for yourself or shame them, there’s a chance that you can get misunderstood more, targeted all over again for new reasons by a whole new set of people, or be labelled as “intense” “trouble” or told you “bring in on yourself.” It can even lose you friends who don’t want to hear your story. I am passionate about this subject and apologize in advance if my post is too long and comes off a bit like a political speech! I was invited to share my views on the news, but I couldn’t physically make it to the city, so this is my attempt to raise awareness of adult bullying.

Most people might find it difficult to understand what it must have felt like for Charlotte to have had her spirit consciously crushed by a collective bunch of anonymously cloaked bullies, some perhaps with sociopathic tendencies. When someone chips away at someone else’s tower of strength over and over, brick by brick, they are in essence willing them to crumble. How does someone take pleasure in that and sleep soundly at night? When the bullies take the next step and gather their army of supporters and push forward with bulldozers, it can fill bystanders with fear. If others speak up on your behalf, they can be next on the hit list. This can further isolate a vulnerable target. Imagine Rapunzel imprisoned in her tower, waiting to be cruelly treated yet again, with most of her waking moments filled with the kind of hyper-vigilance that just won’t calm the hell down, cries of anger that aren’t heard, a point of view that doesn’t get the validation it requires from others,wishing, hoping for a kind rescuer that never seems to come. For some vulnerable targets it can tragically and sadly push them closer to the edge, causing a dark depression that entertains thoughts of exiting in whatever way they can, when all they really want is for the pain to end. (If you need help and are in NZ call Lifeline on 0800 543 354.)

Another beautiful angel graces us.

Another beautiful angel graces us.

Some people say that online bullying can be fixed by “shutting down your account” or “ignoring posts.” Do we tell rape victims to “just forget about him?” Is it the fear of reprisal that encourages most people to focus on what a target of bullying could have done, rather than collectively bring attention onto the bullies who say or do hateful things? Why absolve the bullies of their responsibilities? Why not hold them accountable for their actions and words?

When Hitler and his gang of not so merry men rounded innocent people into gas chambers, did we blame the tortured ones for being “too sensitive” “too fragile” “too outspoken”or  “too depressed.” Would we say “just shut down your accounts” “don’t engage” “just rip off your stars” or “change your religion or change the color of your eyes and hair, that’ll  fix things?”

Yes, our online world is now just another playground for bullies, but this time instead of a headmaster knowing the names of the bullies and where they live, these new trolls who seem to live at the bottom of social media bridges cloaked in anonymity, cleverly attracting like-minded thugs and thieves of happiness to collectively target, anger and  isolate those who have opinions different to them and/or those who shine brightly or have a life they envy.

Whatever you call bullies, be it sociopaths, stirrers, trolls or troublemakers, they are best not responded to with emotion or fear or force. What I know for sure, is that there is no winning with them, that justifying, defending, or joining them in the fight is a waste of energy better spent protecting yourself. It would be good if they could be stopped somehow, but this only seems to happen when a bully comes up against a power greater than themselves, like the law which dishes out clear consequences for actions. What appears to work  is to make a strong personal decision to not engage in any way with them, and to ban them where possible. Secondly, whatever environment an imbalance of power takes place in, whether it’s within an organization, a town, or social media, people need to be held accountable for inappropriate or damaging actions or words even though bullies take up a good 10% of most populations. Bystanders could do with being championed  to bravely point out that people need to be kept emotionally safe and ask for rules and guidelines, and demand they be enforced and state that they agree that consequences need enforcing. Without rules, life becomes too Lord of the Flies. If it feels too “Big Brother” I for one knew that a big brother on the playground was the one person who could help when I was 12!

Perhaps there is a deeper social question that needs to be considered. Apart from the ability to express oneself in anyway with anonymity in places with no guidelines and no consequences, what else could be causing more people to behave in vicious, nasty ways?

What causes lack of empathy, compassion and respect? What happened to kindness, and keeping inside your head thoughts, and really strong opinions and beliefs to ourselves? Words are incredibly powerful and opinion is not truth. Yes, even mine. I encourage expression within certain guidelines and prefer it dished up with as much respect and self-responsibility as possible.

I would love us all to be more educated around adult bullying. How can we let more people know that when one person abusively targets another for longer than six months, or when many people band together and aim their abuse at one person over and over, the damage is insurmountable. Basal cortisol responses in ones brain maims motivation and over time, makes it harder for anyone to get back up or have any bounce left. When someone is already bullied and friends, colleagues and people who used to be close start negatively judging them, isolating them, or treating them differently, it impacts even further. Let’s stop blaming the person having trouble dealing with bullies. Let’s listen to them, support them,  protect them and not support the bullies. And if you are a bully, be vulnerable, fill your emptiness and heal whatever hurt you originally, rather than diverting your pain. That’s how victims become persecutors. Stop making yourself bigger and stronger when you feel weak. And by the way, never push me to “waste” you. I still could. Stop trying to convince others that the person you are harming in some way deserves it. No one ever deserves it.

So, what are the solutions? In NZ we have a law to punish cyber bullies. In Australia, a petition has begun circulating today called Charlottes Law. Go here to sign it.

Could we wipe out more destructive conversations and welcome constructive ones?

Why do some people leave abusive comments in their comments sections?

Who monitors public social media interactions? Could this create new jobs within online organizations? Trade me is one business that seems to do it well.

When anyone has been targeted, how can we help put the spark back into their sparkle without getting in the firing line ourselves?

What is one thing that you can do today to help bring more peace to someone who is suffering, so they like Charlotte, don’t crave to rest in peace.

Advertisements

4 Responses to “Unhappy Endings. My Goodbye To Charlotte Dawson.”

  1. Clare February 25, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    Absolutely brilliant article

  2. Liane Rumble February 26, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    Lovely Leanne,
    thanks

  3. Sandra February 26, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

    such profound thought and emotion poured into this – well done for bringing darkness to light and being a beacon of hope and a voice for others ! x

    • Wolfies April 4, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

      Thanks for your kind words Sandra, Liane and Clare x

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: