Being in the public eye for the past two years has subjected me to many forms of online abuse be it indirectly or directly. I have witnessed the “mob mentality” escalate appallingly fast when someone may have a different school of thought, or by simply being different. Take the time for example when I was attacked for choosing to speak instead of sign in my BBC interview. I naturally speak when I am with hearing people as I am more comfortable doing so yet my choice to speak was not respected by those who demanded that I signed just because I come from a deaf family. I was put between a rock and a hard place and I was damned if I did sign and damned if I didn’t. The sheer number of sheep flocking was astonishing – thank God I am not a sheep! These days, too many people take advantage of peer pressure to manipulate and dictate others what to do.
“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” – Maya Angelou.
There will always be someone who can put forwards different perspectives on issues and situations due to their experiences in life and knowledge, making the impact for change greater – surely everyone deserves to be respected with kindness just as much as the next person regardless? It is extremely healthy to have variations of viewpoints so one can be educated and decide – especially for themselves.
When having a different opinion one tends to be singled out as a “Troll” yet to single that person out as a troll must be another form of abuse in itself.
The World Wide Web.
However I have recently experienced a new form of online abuse and I have been left saddened by it. This experience has made me want to retreat, have nothing at all to do with the world wide web to distance myself from all the negativity and to restrain myself from reacting. Life is far too short.
To go onto social media and post potentially libellous material which names a person, persons and so on when they cannot defend themselves surely must be another form of online abuse? Especially when there is no evidence that the named party has attacked or done anything wrong yet people feel the urge to personally attack the named party? And what’s worse, people adopting the “mob mentality” by joining in and adding fuel to the fire. No one is born with hatred – it is instilled and mimicked. If only respect worked in the same sense.
Seeing that occur from a distance opened my eyes and I soon realised I had been in the very same position numerous times now. Unfortunately I know I am not alone in this experience for a friend of mine was personally attacked recently by someone posting a video onto social media publically naming him and criticising him. If only he had sorted his dispute out privately with the named person – he would not be now known as a bully within our circle of mutual friends.
I will not tolerate or condone any form of online abuse around me especially bullying. I made it clear that I would not stand for this within the Tree House in the form of personal attacks (or when we are named outside the safety perimeters of the Tree House which subsequently is inviting us to take action) or be associated with those seen to be contributing to the very public online form of abuse. Yet making it clear, I was inevitably set upon. My position as founder in trying to protect the Tree House from any potential damage was questioned, undermined. oppressed and criticised. Being unbiased and diplomatic sets myself apart from others and this helps me to look outside the box – as always I will do as I deem just, adapting to each situation based on my experience. Was my being criticised and slated another form of online abuse? Maybe not in their eyes but it certainly felt like it to me.
To have thick skin is very important and deaf people are extremely vulnerable to the various forms of abuse, be it online, within society, at school, at work and unfortunately at home. In all walks of life, there will always be that someone who will try to drag others down no matter who they may be, for being different. My scars have healed over many times now hence why my skin has grown thicker and if I can refuse to be manipulated, so can you. Positivity rules!
Do not encourage any form of online abuse because these emotions which are associated with being bullied will exhibit themselves within the victim(s).
◾Difficulty trusting others
The offenders’ hatred should not dictate your time and you would only be lowering yourself to their level if you join in or encourage it. Rise above it because people who show their true colours in this manner deserve to be reported to the police so keep a record of all the evidence and present it in order to take action. I have done this in the past being a victim and they have listened – they issued warnings to the offending parties. With actions comes consequences – if they can dish it out, they can certainly take it.
Please, don’t have one rule for yourself and another for others – put yourself in the victim’s shoes and walk hundreds of miles in it first, taking a look in the mirror before passing any judgement or criticism.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jnr.
It is about time online abuse in its various forms is stopped. Help by being a part of that change in stopping personal attacks, cyber bullying and all forms of online harassment. Fight back – especially for justice.
Thank you, for your time and patience.
~ SJ (Sara Jae)
Some useful links for your reference:
Crown Prosecution Service
Taking action about Harassment.
Harassment Act 1997
and last but not least,
I would like to applaud Dr Taylor.
Update: Defamatory gossip is now being spread about The Tree House and myself which is once again another form of abuse – Please keep evidence of this as we have built up a case which we have taken action on with positive results.