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How To Catch A Cyber Bully And Shut Them Down: My Story

Facebook logoEditor’s Note: With #NoPlace4Hate, Youth Ki Awaaz and Facebook have joined hands to help make the Internet a safer space for all. Watch this space for powerful stories of how young people are mobilising support and speaking out against online bullying.

I am a 21-year-old from Bangalore, who just got out of college and is about to start her corporate career. My motive behind writing this article is that I believe I need to speak up on an issue thousands of people face and keep mum about. I want to share my experience because it is important and may help many, or at least make them aware. I encourage you to keep an open mind as I begin.

In June 2016, I started seeing someone. It was a long-distance relationship as he was residing in America. As we couldn’t meet our conversations were over text daily. After a while, I cut him off for personal reasons and started to move on with my life. He also started seeing someone in November last year.

However, recently I started receiving messages from a fake account on Instagram. The messages were abusive, claimed they had my nudes and the intent was clearly to hurt me and to get me upset. I first decided to ignore them as it was a fake account and this person was just fooling around. But things got a little out of hand when this fake account messaged my friend on Instagram sending her messages about me to spoil my reputation. That was the first time I realized it wasn’t someone who was fooling around, but definitely someone who knew enough about me and wanted to hurt me.

 

So being the anxious and worried woman that I am (because who isn’t worried about their privacy and modesty) I decided to snoop around a little and try and find out who this person is. Like any normal person, I looked online for ways to hack into Instagram accounts so that I could shut it down or find out who was behind this. And I found sites that claimed they could hack into the account. As is usual, they didn’t work.

So, I gave up and decided to let it go. It was late in the night and those messages were messing with my head and I couldn’t sleep. Out of frustration, I decided to try and log in to that account by guessing the password. Alas! that also didn’t work.

But, when you type in the wrong password Instagram gives you an option to send a login link to your number in case you’ve forgotten the password. So, I typed in my number hoping the link would get sent to mine. But it didn’t. Except, I got a notification that the login link has been sent to the actual number that the account was registered with. So, since they had censored half the number I could only see the country code and the last 4 digits of it.

Now what took me by surprise is that the country code was neither that of India nor of Muscat. I am an NRI and have studied abroad for about 18 years, so I have a lot of contacts there and assumed it was someone I knew or someone within my friend’s circle. The surprising part was the country code was that of Bulgaria, i.e. +359. I started to rack my brains and think of all the people from Bulgaria that I knew, but I could think of no one. Moreover, I couldn’t even think of someone who had it this bad against me.

But the subconscious mind is a powerful thing. It picks up details that you overlook. I remembered something crucial. The girlfriend of the guy I was seeing last year is studying abroad. So, to confirm my doubts I went over to her Instagram page and saw what she had posted. She had posted a couple of pictures and the location was on it. I had hit the jackpot – her location was Bulgaria. However, I still couldn’t confront her as all my clues and doubts were circumstantial.

So, I decided to message her boyfriend (my ex) on Facebook to get a lead on this situation. but he himself seemed pretty clueless and didn’t know who was behind this. Moreover, he mentioned receiving a message from a fake account that was demanding pictures of me from him.

All my doubts were confirmed only when his girlfriend (my abuser) saw the exchange between me and him on Facebook (she had his password) and started to abuse and harass me claiming she had private pictures of me and that I was a whore/ slut. The language she used was extremely disgusting and the stuff she was saying could force a person to end their life. I chose not to respond to her ugly comments and to ignore it and left a threat there saying I would go to the cops if she didn’t stop this behavior. My ex refused to involve himself and told me to laugh it off.

Regardless, she chose not to pay heed. After blocking and reporting her on Instagram and Facebook she got hold of my WhatsApp number and decided to torment me here. Mind you, I am a 21-year-old who is about to start a new life and the stuff she was saying about me only gave me negative feelings and made me feel helpless.

I knew for a fact that I am not alone and there are lots of people in this world who go through stuff like this. Some are strong enough to ignore it while some aren’t. If she was only hurling insults and abuses at me I would have probably ignored her, but she threatened me by saying she had pictures of me and was going to circulate them. I highly doubt she has pictures of me because she has just been sending me empty threats out of frustration and insecurity. However, you always have that teeny bit of doubt in your mind if someone has hacked into your phone or warped your pictures and that is just about enough to stop you from doing your daily tasks and screwing with your head. I’m sure a lot of women would resonate with me.

I am thankful for having such supportive friends who stood up for me during this period. They confronted her because clearly, my talking to her was useless considering she wouldn’t let me have my say and just try and bully me. I am a mature individual and did not want to stoop to her level by calling her names and attacking her self-esteem by talking shit about her body. She is blocked everywhere but I know she is persistent and won’t stop. I know she is a child and I am better than her but I do not feel sorry for her. The messages she sent me were outright abusive and she has also broken quite a few laws in India. (She is an Indian citizen).

I am writing this to educate people that the internet is not a safe place anymore and this can happen to anyone.

My first step was to file a complaint to the cyber cell in Bangalore and they are now looking into it. I have all the evidence I need to issue an injunction against her or to talk to her parents. Now since she is abroad, it’s even harder for me to take action. So, the second thing I did was to email her university and inform them about her doings. I am now awaiting a response from them. If that doesn’t stop her, the FIR will.

Finally, the message that I want to give is that don’t keep quiet. Your abuser is very likely to be someone you know. Take action. Not by responding but by collecting evidence and filing a FIR against the person. Try and be open about your story. You may receive hate but there will be many others who will resonate and come out and admit that they have been abused. The bottom line is this, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

If you don’t know who this person is, and it is someone harassing you on Instagram you could use the above-mentioned way to try and find out. It is not extremely accurate but it might give you some insight. Always trust your instincts.

If you’re not able to find out who this person is and don’t have the resources to contact professionals or take this to the court, just block this person everywhere and don’t read their messages. Don’t react. Just get off all social media and live your life. Your self-worth does not depend on some person who sits behind a computer and is jealous of you.

On the other hand, if you do find out who this person is, file a FIR. Present the evidence and wait for things to happen. That’s the best you can do. Meanwhile, keep your friends and family close and corner this bully to submission.

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