Cyberbullying: My Invisible Enemy
At Christmas time I started to receive messages on social media that were meant to harm me. Called a slut and a whore, I heard many other statements about my sexuality that still make me too sick to verbalize. What made the situation worse, is that the person attacking me remained hidden through the fake profiles he created. Fighting an invisible enemy has been terrifying and insanely frustrating. I so badly wanted someone to direct my anger towards. I became frustrated with both social media and law enforcement for not doing a better job of protecting me. Of course, this didn’t help.
Unable to attack the problem and immediately fix it, I started to struggle again with fear and anxiety. Before I realized it, the hard work I had put into handling my anxiety in healthy ways – eating well, sleeping well, exercising, “quiet time” every morning – started to quickly disappear as I channeled all my energy into fighting against my thoughts and emotions. I lost sleep, I couldn’t focus, I had little energy, and I became physically ill.
This battle shattered my feeling of control and devastated me. Numerous times I heard people say, “Don’t listen to what he’s saying about you. They’re all lies…. Don’t dwell on it.” True as I would like the above statements to be, I don’t have the ability within myself to be torn down again and again and stand back up every single time as if nothing ever happened. I also don’t think that’s quite what God expects from me.
After two months of continual harassment, I skipped a work event, sat down on my bed and cried.
“Fine God, I give up. I can’t do this anymore. I cannot stop this person, nor do I have the mental or emotional strength to pretend it’s not affecting me. Congratulations invisible person, I admit that you got to me. You have made me feel like I am going crazy because you have been on my mind constantly. I have been angry, depressed, and exhausted. Is that what you wanted? Does that make you feel better? Tonight, I admit that I am exhausted and scared. For at least tonight, I surrender. God, you have told us that we can approach Your throne with confidence. So here I am. In my weakness, insecurity, and fear you remain powerful, true, and good. Tonight, I pray for this person who has been causing me harm. I pray that Your grace becomes evident in his life. Work Your redemptive story in his heart and life. Bring loving people around him. People who will speak truth, wisdom, and encouragement into his life. I pray that you meet him in brokenness and despair and that he finds himself face to face with ‘Love Himself’. ‘Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.’”
Though I recorded these thoughts in my journal, the prayer was filled with a lot more frustration, anger, and tears than I can describe. This was not a peaceful surrender to God that made everything immediately better; this prayer meant I continued my wrestling match with God until I surrendered in exhaustion and defeat. I knew He had called me to pray for my enemies, but nothing in me wanted to do so. It was simply my last option.
God didn’t change the situation overnight, but He has been at work including the identity of my stalker being discovered. On top of everything I was feeling, one of the biggest struggles has been feeling alone, unsupported, and unprotected. God daily reminds me that He is my refuge and my strength.
As I realize this, God has also started to show me His care through people. He has shown me this through my parents aggressively fighting for me, when I no longer had the energy to fight. He brought a group of women into my life who sat with me and prayed and cried with me. They prayed for my protection, my health, and for my attacker. Amid such darkness, there have also been these sweet moments where I felt more loved and safe than ever before. I pray that I can hold onto these moments of comfort and hope no matter what battle I am fighting.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41.10