HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - When you hear the word 'bully,' most often you think about children or teenagers as the aggressors and victims. But a Tennessee Valley woman contacted me because she said she has been the victim of a bully for close to five years. With nowhere else to turn for help, she contacted me.
Deborah of Limestone County contacted me about an issue she is having on Facebook with someone who is repeatedly bullying her. You may be surprised that Deborah is a grown woman, and so is the person she claims has been harassing her for five years.
I have been harassed and bullied on Facebook. There is no end to this woman's abuse. It don't just happen to kids… it happens to adults. I have been going through this for five years now.
October, ironically, is National Bullying Prevention Month. This week, we learned details about the death of a Florida teen who leaped to her death off a concrete silo because she had been repeatedly bullied on Facebook.
Beth Jackson with the National Children's Advocacy Center said there are some strategies for dealing with a bully. Still, "each person is different. It also depends on who is doing the bullying and how severe it is," she said.
The earlier something happens, she said, the better your chance of having some defense.
"Don't respond to it. Try to ignore it. If it's not a physically threatening situation, talk to the person with a little humor and be like, 'what's up with all the name calling," Jackson suggested.
Jackson said this strategy can work with children and adults equally. However, if the threats are more serious in nature, other measures need to be taken.
"If the bullying is physical in nature, there's threats of violence, that is when you may have to get another party involved if you think those threats are serious," she said.
In Deborah's case, her bully is reaching out to her via Facebook. Jackson said in some ways, social media and technology has made it easier for some people to be bullied, but she said that same technology can also work in your favor.
"If you are sent a nasty text, a nasty message or what have you, [do not] respond. It might be a good idea to block that person from your profile [or] texts if you have that capability," Jackson said.
Jackson said while there is no justification for bullying, you can help protect yourself sometimes by being mindful of what you share via social media.
"The more information you post, the fodder or information you give to someone to use against you. Try not to post pictures of yourself in compromising situations. If your grandmother wouldn't like what she read or saw, I wouldn't post it," Jackson advised.
The most important thing to take away from this story is this: if you are being bullied, do not respond. If the threat is physical in nature, seek intervention.
There are support groups, some online, for victims of bullying. For more information, consult:
In Deborah's case, we urged her to block the person she said has been harassing her for years.