Trigger warning: This piece discusses themes of cyberbullying.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hey I am Sarisha, I am 20 years old and I study Business. I was born and raised in Auckland, NZ and I have a younger sister who is 4 years younger than me and some of my hobbies include going to the gym, embroidery and I am learning Acoustic Guitar at the moment.
Can you tell us about your experience with Cyberbullying?
I joined social media as soon as I could, I think I was 13. Unfortunately I have had a lot of experience with cyberbullying. One of the times it happened was when I was in year 10. I was catfished by 2 of my best friends and thankfully quickly caught on. They set up a fake account, pretending to be a male with the hope of getting information out of me and leading me on.
Can you tell us more about that?
For the first little while, I genuinely thought it was a real person I was talking to. Once I found out that it was 2 of my best friends I was really hurt, it didn’t seem fair, that was the way they were trying to have conversations with me and get information out of me.
It has impacted my mental health hugely, it has made me feel really self-conscious, it’s made me really aware of what I post online, who I talk to and it's really knocked my self confidence. I went through a period of feeling like I couldn't trust anyone.
How did you deal with these feelings?
I found it really helpful talking to people. I talked to my mum a lot. She reassured me that what was being said wasn’t true and that it’s more of a reflection of them than me.
I have found it really helpful taking a break from social media every couple of months. Switching off and just focusing on what’s around me has really helped.
What would be your message to those being cyberbullied?
There are a few things that I would say.
Talk to people - sharing what’s happening can make it a lot easier.
It’s not a reflection of you
Chat to support services.
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