Emma - #YouWouldntSayItToTheirFace

Trigger warning: this piece discusses themes of cyberbullying and trauma.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Emma and I am 19 years old. I’m currently in my second year at University doing my first year of Health Science after a year of Psychology last year. The mental health space is one which I’m extremely passionate about and an area which I am hoping to be part of in the future. When I’m not at uni, I also work part-time as a swimming instructor teaching babies and primary school kids how to swim which is a very rewarding (and cute) job.

Can you tell us about your experience with Cyberbullying?

In terms of my own experiences with cyberbullying, to summarise quite a long story, last year I made an Instagram post about something traumatic that I experienced, in the hope that it would help others who may be trying to heal from similar situations. I was motivated by the feelings of overwhelming loneliness I felt in the aftermath and the anxiety that came out of trying to get professional help, because I didn’t know anyone else who had gone through what I had. I also wanted to reclaim the power I felt I had lost and rewrite the ending to that chapter of my life. Once making this post on my public social media account, the feedback I received wasn’t entirely positive and made me second guess whether I did the right thing or not. 

Can you tell us more about that?

I had people messaging me essentially blaming me for someone else’s actions that were inflicted on me, and that if it really had such a profound effect on me, I would’ve come forward about it sooner. I lost people in my life who I truly believed would be there forever. I had people tell me that “blasting it on social media” wasn’t the right way to handle what I experienced. People telling me that I shouldn’t have shared my personal experience on my own platform. I felt really hurt and confused. 

A few days later a piece I did with Re:News came out and in this piece I talked about being body shamed on social media and how that affected my self-esteem. Again I did this with the hope it would help other people and it did, but with it also came people from my school bullying me online saying it was “cringe”. 

How did you deal with these feelings?

I found it really helpful talking to those around me that I trusted and sharing with them how I was feeling. They validated and reassured me that I was worthy and that I hadn’t done anything wrong. Eventually, I was able to take a step back and realise the positive effect that what I did had on the people it was intended to help and I thought about how different things would have been for me if I had seen that post when I needed it, and that far outweighed the criticism and loss I experienced. 

What would be your message to those being cyberbullied?

Oftentimes it can be quite isolating because, unlike bullying, it’s often private and there aren’t any other witnesses so I want to start by saying you’re not alone. There are support services available out there so please reach out to those and access help. 

Voices of Hope wants you to know that you do not have to do this alone. Click here to ‘find help’ - it’s not weak to speak

 You Wouldn't Say It To Their Face