Have you ever been a victim of malicious gossip and harrassment from people in your local area who have only met you once or twice, or maybe not even at all?
This happened to me when I was pregnant and trying to meet new people. I started a group on FB sometime back, and it was a pretty okay experience. I friended everybody who joined the group, just to get people excited and enthusiastic about this group. I wanted people to feel included, and chatted to them and met them in public - even opened my home up to them.
I got onto this crusade I guess. I didn't want any other mums to feel lonely in a new area. I wanted to be a friend. And sure enough, the group grew and grew.
But a few people joined who had been in the area sometime, and they had gripes with others in the group I started - to the point where they started to post negative material all over the group wall on FB. I was told to avoid certain people, and basically found myself on the receiving end of their whingeing about people I didn't even know. I found myself just zoning out when they said this and also attempted to change the subject of conversation, because I did not want to be associated with this sort of thing. Unfortunately, these people were posting inappropriate comments and negative stuff on the group wall, so something had to be done. By this stage, I had a number of people I had made admins, and together we decided to post a little note encouraging people to not fall into the trap of gossip, harrassment, etc.
The people who were doing this saw the notice on the group wall, and because they were only in touch with me as the founder, directed their vitriol at me. They demanded to be removed from the group, etc. And that was fine, it was their choice. And that's where it should have ended. Unfortunately though, it continued for them, to the point of them sending me abusive text messages on my phone, and even calling my home phone the day I returned home from giving birth and harrassing me over the phone. I didn't know these people, but because they were annoyed that the group I started was responding to their posts by discouraging gossip, they took it out on me to that extreme.
A few other fallings out happened because people didn't like certain aspects of the group, so their displeasure was directed at me...again with relentless emails, text messages and gossip directed at me even in one case. It's a small town, and I was told the ringleader had a bit of a reputation for this sort of thing. I would get messages every few minutes. Unrelenting. I had just had a baby and was in tears, not knowing what to do or how to make it stop.
So I pulled the sim card out of my phone and threw it out. It was the only way I could stop it. The offenders were blocked on FB, so couldn't get to me there either.
It was so upsetting for me, because I just retreated totally. I didn't want any of the hate directed at me. I cut off from the entire group and left altogether. I just disappeared and as a result, lost a lot of friends (new friends I had made through the group) because they couldn't understand it. But I just did not want to be associated with any toxicity at all. I left the group in the capable hands of the admins, who unfortunately are not in touch with me anymore because I disappeared from them too. It wasn't helped because I was being stalked online as well from this group. That plus the phone calls and messages telling me everything I said or did was being monitored, etc, etc...it really made me just literally close the blinds and not come out.
But yeah. It's an experience that really ruined it for me in this area - to the point where I won't go to the local shopping centre or accompany my husband grocery shopping because I have seen the trouble makers in public before since all of this happened, and it really intimidated me. Nothing was said, but it just made me feel so distressed.
My close friends here have seen first hand how this experience really affected me - and sent me into a depression for awhile as well. I was crying every day, and felt like my life was over. And I was told that basically, I was the subject of bullying.
I guess after half a year of pretty much alienated in my own home (lucky for me I work from home!), and with all these no-go zones in my area, I'm really looking forward to a new life in a new state altogether where I know nobody. But I am a social person and long to be connected again to local people in my area. I just won't do it by setting up a group again.
Has anybody else had this experience before? How do you get beyond it and how do you not let people get to you, so much so that you literally stop living and barricade yourself in your home?? I'm looking forward to a new start, but at the same time scared that I could come across people who like to make stories up just to stir trouble and create entertainment for them.
It's really hard to not feel afraid that this will happen again. But I really, really want to make friends in my new city.
How do I avoid this sort of thing?? I definitely don't think not having a life, and just barricading oneself in their home is healthy for one's wellbeing at all. So how do you avoid this sort of thing happening?
Edited by redjellybeans, 21 November 2012 - 03:06 PM.