Taylor Hildridge is a young woman who received the gift of her dreams for her 17th birthday, her very own laptop.
What she thought would be the best gift in the world, turned out to be the worst gift of her life. With a new laptop came her social life on the web.
When her social life was attacked, Hildridge became filled with depression, which eventually led to her attempt at suicide.
Taylor Hildridge is a fictional character, played by Emily Osment in the ABC Family original film, Cyberbully, who took to the Internet to build her social life.
While her intentions were pure and she simply wanted to join the crowd, she ended up standing alone as she was left to face a cyberbully. After days of harassment and public embarrassment that stemmed from the rumors that were being spread about her online, the pressure became overwhelming and Hildridge decided she could no longer live with her situation.
She attempted to commit suicide by consuming an entire bottle of pills; however, her friend was able to come to her rescue before she made that irrational decision.
While this story may merely be a dramatic ABC Family presentation, these kinds of things happen every day, and most people have no idea it’s going on.
According to DoSomething.org, “Cyber bullying” is defined as a young person tormenting, threatening, harassing, or embarrassing another young person using the Internet or other technologies, like cell phones.
Victoria Garcia, a former victim that overcome cyber bullying, said she encountered bullying first in person and then online.
“Beginning high school was a struggle for me, as it would be for anyone. It all started with a boy, who brought many complications to my life. This guy had many friends that didn’t agree with his decision to talk to me. I had many of those girls bully me throughout my ninth grade year. They did anything and everything to tear me down,” Garcia said. “It first began with them telling me ugly things in the hallways. When that didn’t work, they began being aggressive and doing things like shoving me in the hallways. I remember being called “ugly” and “worthless” and even told to ‘go kill yourself.’ I remember just thinking how could people be so cruel and heartless?”
Sophia Quintela, a bullying survivor said, “Bullying plays a major role in my life. It has led me to the person I am today and who I hope to be in the future. Let’s go back to elementary days. ‘Fatty,’ ‘fatball,’ and ‘squishy’ were some of my nicknames. I was a chubby kid, what can I say, I loved food. Reason being, it was comfort for me at the time. Boys would walk around and make fun of me because I wore different style of clothes than every other girl. They would ask me out and then write me a little note saying ‘I was joking by the way. You’re too ugly or too fat to date.’ Some of those words are implanted in my head. I didn’t know what I was doing or what was going on. Why people treated me as if I were some kind of creature from another world. I was a kid. I was me. To them it wasn’t cool to be the real you,” Quintela said.
“I started to keep a journal, writing all of my feelings down because I felt as if no one knew what I was going through or I felt as if they couldn’t help me… as if I was the ‘Lost Cause.’ I put it in my backpack one day, and the bell rang for lunch and as I was walking into the cafeteria everyone started laughing at me, reading things in my journal, and making fun of me. I saw this boy who kept reading it out loud. As I tried to grab it he threw it to another boy. As it hit the table, it dropped to the floor and so did I. I knew I shouldn’t let them see me cry so I ran off into the bathroom and started bawling. Everyone knew me as the girl who lost it and retreated into the bathroom,” Quintela said. “Same thing would happen to me over and over again. It was always a joke to them.”
Garcia and Quintela are not alone.
According to DoSomething.org, “Over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year.” That is a very alarming number.
What’s more alarming is that bullying has hit the internet.
DoSomething.org says, “Nearly 43 percent of kids have been bullied online.
To 1 in 4 it has had it happened more than once.”
“It died down after I entered high school. However, it then rose into cyber bullying,” Quintela said.
She explained that people would take to social media sites such as Ask.fm, which is a website which enables someone to ask questions and make comments to people anonymously, to bully her.
“Once I met my boyfriend, Miguel, I wanted to get involved in a relationship with Christ. So, I did. Bullies on ask.fm would say my relationship was fake or that it was a phase and wasn’t going to last. People just didn’t like to see me happy and when I wasn’t, they still brought me down. I tried to find friends, but when I did they would turn around and talk bad about me. Most of those people at my high school had their own secrets. They put on a mask everyday just to be perfect. I didn’t. I never had a mask. That’s probably why I had so much bulling brought upon me. I stood my ground. I fought for myself, my education and my life.”
Garcia and Quinela both expressed how potentially harmful bullying can be.
DoSomething.org adds, “Bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide.”
Garcia said, “You cannot hide from the bullying that goes on today or try to ignore it because this has led to many suicides. I coped with the harassment by telling myself the things they said about me weren’t true. I guess you can say I have pretty “thick skin.” I stuck through it all, I never let what they thought of me define me, but just because I stayed strong through it all doesn’t mean that everyone can, others are different and cope with things differently.
“Eventually, I decided I was done being treated as if I were worthless or some piece of gum on the concrete that everyone stepped on. Trying to survive throughout the day without crying or having thoughts of suicide wasn’t easy. I tried to kill myself twice, before I decided I was done having suicidal thoughts and depression.”
Bullying, both face to face and on the Internet, is very dangerous, illegal, and harmful.
“Some advice that I would give anyone who is being bullied is don’t let this define you. You know who you are better than anyone else, so why let someone else define you? Stay strong, because this doesn’t last forever; things change and in the end, the bully won’t matter at all. TELL SOMEONE. I know you don’t want to, but it will honestly help,” Garcia said.
Quintela added, “Talk to someone you trust. Tell them what’s going on. Be fearless and stand your ground. Don’t let them run you over or call you names. You are worth way more than any gold or silver you could imagine. Hold your head up high and succeed.”
“Life is more rewarding after you’ve completed school. Life goes on and we have a blessing to learn from it and move on. Be better, be bolder and be stronger,” she said.