Have you found yourself in the crosshairs of a troll or a cyber-bully? I have. It’s not nice… and stopping the offender is downright difficult, especially for adults!

What if I told you that you don’t need to stop them? What if you had a way to win without even engaging? If you’re being cyber-bullied and feel helpless, read on… you’re going to love this!

WARNING: This article shares distressing life experiences that may upset some readers. If you have experienced sexual abuse and are working through your survival journey, please consider skipping the section “Standing By”. If this article raises issues for you, please click here to find a collection of contact details for related services that can help you.

This is embarrassing! 

At the time of writing this, I am 52 years old. I am an adventurous and successful Australian woman with a moderately high profile, depending on what perspective and social sphere you’re peering in from. I had my share of “traditional” bullies at school (they didn’t faze me… after all, I was a talented martial arts devotee!), but I never could have imagined that I’d be dealing with bullying at this stage of my life. I guess I was naïve in believing that we all “grew up”.

The sad truth is this: approximately 1 in 5 Australian adults identify as being victims of some form of cyber-abuse. When I first joined that cohort in 2018, I was mortified! The dissing and slanderous assertions about my professional and sporting prowess were humiliating and they landed some serious points for my abuser, but through my three year-long (and counting) troll-tango, I’ve gained a lot of insights. One of which is that it is not the person on the receiving end who should feel embarrassed 😉

Now, I want to share the epiphanies that have reversed the poles on my personal power battle, in hopes you gain a fresh power surge of your own.

Bullies Are Power-Vampires, and Vampires Are Just Human Parasites.

What drives these people to victimize another human? When you’re reeling from an online onslaught, some form of this question will keep popping up. Commonly, it looks like “Why Me?!” 

A large proportion of cyber-bullying cases are anonymous, so finding an answer to such a question is hard. I’m fortunate. My abuser is known to me, as is their gripe. I believe that makes me lucky, because I can look at the person’s behaviour in general and gain perspective.

Regardless of whether the bully is overt or anonymous, my first tip is to forge past this question. If you are not the bullying type, you’ll never understand the motivation — so don’t waste your energy. There’s plenty of worthwhile considerations to focus on that are more productive.

Tip #1

Stop trying to understand WHY you’re being bullied. It’s not rational. You Don’t Deserve It. The problem is them, not you.


I’m an ordinary Australian adult. I’ve lived a full life and I’ve done everything I could to make it extraordinary… I don’t like to be bored. I reckon I’ve seen much of the very best and close to the worst that life can offer. I’ve endured chemotherapy and survived cancer, come close to my end through blood poisoning (that was terrifying), disarmed a murderous rapist, survived sexual assault, become pregnant to a rapist and still grieve for my aborted baby. I’ve defused a violent street attack, survived domestic abuse and, by sheer luck, survived an intended murder/suicide. Yikes!

I consider myself the luckiest person I know. I’ve been privileged to live in Bali for 6 months on student exchange, back when Poppies Lane was on the outskirts of Kuta! I’ve sat in a pool 61m beneath the ocean surface and marveled at the mosaics. I’ve felt the sharp end of raindrops as I’ve free-fallen through clouds. I live every day in the fullness of the love of motherhood. I’ve won fishing tournaments, been honoured with prestigious business awards and enjoy the fulfilment of volunteering my time to the causes that I believe in.

And, I’ve found my soul mate.

In short, I’ve lived. I’ve participated fully — even when it’s been hard. And through it, I’ve learned a LOT about how to cope. But it only solidified in recent times, with the help of — you guessed it — my bully.

You know how we use the metaphor of “sinking into an abyss” when we talk about a bad situation overwhelming us? Use it. Play it out. There’s wisdom here. It goes like this:

In a very deep pool, with the weight of your troubles dragging you down, you can kick for the surface with all your might, but it’s exhausting. Relax to the bottom, however, and you can spring back with only one direction to go.

Tough times are unavoidable for mere mortals, but we prevail. Sinking to the bottom will look different each time, depending on what’s going on, but it pays to remember that it’s a necessary segment of your journey out.

I’ve lived. I’ve participated fully
— even when it’s been hard.

In this particular “tough time” for me, there were 10 steps between Troll Victim and the next phase of my journey. Yours may be (or have been) different, but mine went something like this:

  1. Awareness of the abuse.
  2. SHOCK!
  3. Investigation into the extent of the abusive material.
  4. Emotional DEVASTATION.
  5. Feverish consumption of ongoing abusive online content.
  6. Physical withdrawal in the real world.
  7. Severe physical reaction to my sense of helplessness.
  8. Test results confirming that my heart was healthy, and I wasn’t, in fact, suffering a heart condition.
  9. A diagnosis of Anxiety.
  10. My first step towards becoming a Troll Slayer.

The celebrated next phase is the quest to best your bully and become [insert your name here], Troll Slayer.

You’re gonna wanna kick their ass. Don’t.

Here’s the rub. The last thing your self-esteem needs is self-inflicted self-hate. When you first start to feel your strength coming back, I think it’s normal to want to counter punch. STOP! Explore how much respect you have (more likely, DON’T HAVE) for the behaviour of your abuser. What does it look like to those who are watching? Admirable? Inspirational? I doubt it.

Becoming a Troll Slayer requires NOT BECOMING ONE OF THEM. Think of all the zombie and vampire flicks. No-one wins by succumbing to the virus.

Tip #2

Don’t become what you can’t respect.

Wherever you turn to seek help, you’ll be given one piece of advice consistently. Don’t respond or retaliate. This is so important, for a couple reasons:

  1. Bullies get their jollies from getting you to lose your cool. This makes them feel powerful.
  2. Cyber-bystanders will see your irrational response and may form a negative view of you, even believing the abuser.
  3. You will get sucked into what is effectively a vacuum.

Yes, a VACUUM.

Reasonable adults don’t participant and most will recognise cyber-abuse for what it is. Granted, some will be drawn in, but if you were to look at their own profiles, you’d probably find that they tend to go that way. Try not to judge. They may have been victimised themselves or may have witnessed the wrath of your abuser in the past and fear being targeted themselves.

This is certainly true in my situation. There are many silent witnesses, and when my attacks first began, I was really hurt. I couldn’t believe they weren’t standing up for me. I soon realised, however, that doing so was akin to popping their head up over the trenches in the World War I Battle of the Somme!

My abuser whirls on any poor soul who even mentions my name. Even in other people’s posts! It’s reminiscent of The Eye of Mordor swinging on Frodo when he accidentally slipped on The Ring… and the venom the spews through their screen seems even more potent than that spat my way.

So, I’ve come to understand the temperance of the observers. I’m comforted to know they’re still watching, even if it’s feeding their morbid curiosity. The fact remains — they are watching.

Standing By

This scenario takes me back to my first sexual assault and the actions of those around me at the time. I hope you won’t mind me sharing this story with you, as it’s quite confronting… but the truth is, it has no power over me anymore, but it has helped me understand the “bystander” dynamic.

It was the very first hours of the 1990s. I’d knocked off work, having helped hundreds of party-goers see in the new decade at the cocktail bar I ran. I was supposed to be my turn to find friends and celebrate the birth of an era that I had big hopes for. 

… the face I saw looking back at me was filled with a menacing glee. I knew then that I was in trouble. 

My friends had moved on from the nightclub they’d told me they were at. I decided to walk to the next location and broke my own (and my Mum’s) rules… I took a dark alley. It was a short-cut and it boasted other party-goers with the same thought in mind, so I figured it’d be safe. How wrong you can be!

I was about 20 metres inside the lane when he hit. Shoved from behind, I stumbled forward. I would’ve fallen if he hadn’t caught my arm! Confused, I turned to thank him — thinking it must’ve been an accident — but the face I saw looking back at me was filled with a menacing glee. I knew then that I was in trouble.

Hand gripped tightly around my left upper arm, he wrenched me forward again before I could gain my balance. He was throwing me forward like a broken marionette… five years of martial arts rendered useless without my ‘one-point’. At that moment, I wished I’d chosen judo instead of full contact karate! Everything has its time.

Ahead of me in the alley, a group of four revelers was rockin’ along to the beats of the street party behind us, making their way to the next club. I screamed for help; eyes locked on them as my body flailed along.

They heard! They turned! HOPE!!! I screamed out again. They turned back to each other, had an exchange of thoughts, and turned away.

My world went silent. I was in disbelief… and I was on my own. That, right there, was the pain of abandonment.

The assailant yanked me to the left and I tripped across his feet. Before I knew it, I was on my back in a vacant lot. The grub attacking me ripped at my leggings while I kicked and clung tight to the elastic top. He forced his body between my legs so that he was inside the reach of my kicks.

I tried to punch him. That was a mistake! I had nowhere to punch from, being flat on the ground… and I had nowhere to go when he punched me back! His weight was now fully on my right hip, with his elbow trapping my right arm against my body as he tore my underwear.

I continued to cry out for help and fight to my best ability. This was NOT going to be easy for him!

“What’s going on?” A man’s voice! A saviour! OMG! “Help Me! He’s trying to rape me!” I screamed.

“Fuck off and mind you own business!” shouted my attacker, “this is between me and my girlfriend!”

“I’m not his girlfriend!” I yelled. “Help me! PLEASE!”

“This is a domestic situation. It’s none of your business!” he asserted.

The couple disappeared into the night, quietly discussing their concerns.

“Call the police!” I called after them.

I’ve never felt so alone in the good universe. It was clear to me then that I couldn’t rely on anyone but myself.

Luckily, I had me! As I continued to wrestle, his hand reached back and then flashed forward.


That was one aspect of my martial arts training that was still useful… and it saved my life. Right there.

In one swift move, my left fist pulled from block his penis from my vagina and swung in a round block, catching his wrist and sending the knife flying. Then, his penis found it’s mark.

I was exhausted. I was broken. I felt so totally defeated.

“What are you doing?!” came another voice from the shadows. My attacker was startled and pulled back, angling up to see who was there.

“Mind your own business,” he yelled over my screams of rape. “This is between me and my girlfriend!”

“No! No! No!” I’m yelling. “He’s raping me! Help me!” I start kicking and fighting again.

“Oh. Okay,” said the man. I could see him now. His mortified girlfriend clung to his arm, eyes locked on me, wide and worried. “Well, if there’s nothing to worry about, you won’t mind if we just stand back here and make sure she’s alright.”

“What!?” My attacker was in disbelief!

“You go ahead and have your argument, but if you are in fact raping her, as she says, we’ll be here to witness it.”

Well, that confused my guy. It was like he’d been hit by a brick! I took my moment, rolled out from his turned body, and RAN! It wasn’t easy, but I managed to get those leggings back up. My knickers were just a rag wrapped around one leg.

I was so disoriented; I ran directly into a six-foot mesh fence. Clinging to it, I just bawled. I was sure he’d be back. Then, a police car pulled into the lane! They drove straight to where I was and came to my aid. It seemed like a miracle to me, but it turns out the first couple decided to call 000.

The rapist fled. He’s never been caught.

Why did I share this with you? Because I think it’s easier for us to understand the impact of predatorial behaviour off-line than on-line, because we’ve all had exposure to the concept for our entire lives. On-line predators are a relatively new beast — but predators are predators, and I believe the prize is the same one: a sense of power.

Predatorial behaviour is about power. Nothing else.

Rape is not about sex. It’s about power and dominance over another individual.

Having worked through three years of cyber-harassment, -bullying, trolling, libel, gaslighting, intimidation, threats, mobbing, ridicule, etc., I’ve come to realise that the true motivation of these attacks is similarly a grab for some sense of power.

My cyber-abuser suggests they are prepared to step into my roles, be it my advisory positions, volunteer positions… they’ve even suggested they outperform me in my professional capacity as graphic designer and marketer! The truth is, they are not positioned to do any of this. They simply believe that discrediting me and, ultimately, causing my downfall, will make them feel powerful.

This single epiphany is a pillar of strength for me. I hope it is for you too. You see, this blog is about beating your bully WITHOUT THEM KNOWING IT. As we’ve discussed, there is no value — WHATSOEVER — in engaging with them. (Although police, some lawyers and some cyber safety websites do recommend that you send one message, asking that the aggressor stop their activity. Then you screenshot that request and keep it with your collection.)

Engaging is a sure way to rescind your personal power. You will end up feeling diminished, exhausted, and even more offended. Conversely, they will feel a sick sense of joy… AND you’ll have played into their hands.

Being ignored is the one thing a cyber-abuser hates above all else. It may seem difficult to do, but once you know that “just ignoring it” is an effective tactic in your own fight, it becomes easier. You’ll see the reaction swiftly: they’ll attack again, trying to prize you out. Then they’ll change tack. Start slurring you on other accounts (even mutual friends accounts) to try for more eyeballs. Their assertions will change probably change. Mine even started writing articles that contradicted one of my professional projects under a pseudonym! This cowardly behaviour is known as “trolling” and can have the effect of “gaslighting”, where you start to doubt yourself.

Others may even start to pile on (this is calling “mobbing”). Just take a screenshot of everything and put it in your folder. At some stage, they’ll either go too far, or go away.

Engaging is a sure way to rescind your personal power.

PERSONAL POWER — It’s All Yours.

Here’s the crux. No-one can “steal” or “take” your power. It’s a self-belief and, quite frankly, your superpower. There is no quantum mechanism that can suck it from you. The only way you’ll ever feel it weakened is if you rescind it.

The most important lesson I gained in my struggle to survive sexual assault was one I learned from a lecturer at TAFE. I was studying a Cert IV in Office Administration, which I started two months after the assault.

Brenda stood at the front of the class, teaching us about the importance of having a healthy self-esteem. She said, “The secret to maintaining a strong self-esteem is accepting responsibility for everything that happens in your life.”

 My vision imploded in a dark crimson rush, like I’d just dived into a deep pool of blood. My mind’s voice screamed: “IT’S NOT MY FAULT! I’M NOT TO BLAME!”

 Hearing those words in my head revealed a resounding A-Haahhh! “Responsibility” and “blame” are two different things. This realization is just as important in this discussion about cyber-bullying. To retain your power (and thereby win the war), you must take responsibility for your own actions, and thus recognise that you are not to blame. Your abuser is responsible for their own actions.

 When you achieve this sense of personal responsibility, you take control of your life. Folks who shirk responsibility for the choices that have led them to their current situation are saying to themselves and others that they have no control over their lives. That’s incredibly sad, because without feeling in control of your life, it’s virtually impossible to feel genuine self-respect — the foundation of strong self-esteem and personal power.

 How does this look for me? How did I drop my victim garb and take back my self-esteem? I realised that I DID have responsibility in what happened. I ignored my instinctive alarm bells and all the wisdom I’d been given by my parents. I chose to go with the dismissive thought, “Stuff like that doesn’t happen to me”. How do I know that I’m not just blaming myself? Because even though my assailant hit me from behind, I knew exactly which person it was from the crowd. I was able to describe his clothing — even though my assault happened in the dark — and my description matched the witnesses.

 My street-smarts had tried to warn me, and I elected to ignore them. That was my responsibility. As too was saving my own life from the knife! Boo-yeah!

 To be honest, I feel pity for cyber-bullies. I can only imagine that their actions are driven by a sense of powerlessness themselves. And any bullies that read this blog will thrash violently in their thoughts, rebelling against the suggestion of weakness… but that won’t change it, and on some level, they’ll recognise it. Let’s hope it helps.


Tip #3

Take responsibility for your own online behaviour.
It’s the key to your personal power.

Where I’m At Today

As I stated at the beginning of this piece, my life was sharply derailed by the onset of cyber-abuse. I spent three days in my room, mostly sobbing. I was virtually inconsolable. Fortunately, I received phone calls from several strong people whom I hold in high regard, reassuring me that the people that matter knew the truth.

 As I pulled my physical body into gear and started going through the motions of life, something truly frightening began to happen. I was suffering tightness in my chest and struggling to breathe. I was sent for all manner of ECGs and stress tests, but they all revealed that I was physically as strong as an ox.

 I was suffering severe anxiety.

 Wow… that was a blow to my ego! After all I’d been through in my life, I considered myself resilient. This is where I made the best decision of my life: I followed the advice of the professionals. I let someone help me.

I was put on anti-anxiety pills and signed up to a mental health care plan (I thank you all for your taxes that pay for this incredible service). Laying myself vulnerable and open to my psychologist, I have been able to work through a lifetime of pain.

 On one crazy day, as we swung back around to revisit the cause of my anxiety, my counsellor asked: “So, what do you think led us to this point?”

 My response rocked her back in her seat. I proclaimed, “We all know where this is coming from. The sexual assault in 1990!”

 I hadn’t shared my story with her yet. I was there to talk about my bully. Yet out it all spewed, in technicolour detail. She was dumbfounded.

 “I think we need to change our treatment, Jo,” She said. “From what you’ve just told me, I believe you’re suffering from PTSD.”

 My turn to be knocked back in my seat! I sat with this for a minute and then asked: “What does that mean?”

 The diagnosis of PTSD explained my over-reaction to being attacked in a public setting. I wasn’t responding to the bully; I was responding to being attacked again. So, my ongoing treatment is helping me deal with a 30-year habit of being in fight-mode.

Dear Bully,
Thank You!

My bully got bored after a while and went away, then recently resurfaced with new attacks and angles, bringing my husband into the frame, as well as spitting venomous rants at my supporters. This time, though, my power is not on offer.

It’s through this new round of attacks that I’ve come to be grateful to my abuser. I lived 30 years in the tension and mental static of undiagnosed PTSD. I was often confused by my own behaviour, feeling like I was constantly “out-of-character”. Today, I’m back to me and I’m stronger, more loving, wiser and more powerful than I have ever felt in my life!

I doubt I’d have got to this place without the work of my pet troll and their mob. So, without hesitation, I say “Thank You”. Of course, they can go away any time they like, but either way, I’m not fazed.

And so, even though they aren’t aware that they’ve been beaten, they have. There is no fight. The only people who join them in their abhorrent behaviour are those that are like-minded. These are not people to lose sleep over. Unfriend them. It’s cathartic.

If you’re being bullied, take a step back and look at the patterns that develop in the abusive strings, you’ll notice that people tend to drop out. Intelligent folks wake up quickly to this kind of behaviour. Soon, you’ll realise that your bully has an echo-chamber, filled with a dwindling gang of fellow bullies, akin to the schoolyard cowards who bay for a fight.

And when you see this truth, you will feel your power rekindle. Hang on to it. It feels good! It is yours.

REMEMBER: You are sole custodian of your personal power. It cannot be stolen. You can choose to relinquish it at any time, but that choice is yours. Gift it wisely, if ever.

Every Troll Slaying Quest
is Unique

My story is my own, and I don’t expect that it’s “typical” in any way. My troll isn’t aware of my past (although, they probably are now) and my past has nothing to do with why they choose to abuse me. I’m sharing this my history with you to demonstrate the parallels of predatorial behaviour. I don’t diminish one shameful act or another, but having endured predatorial behaviour in such a variety of manifestations , I can assure you that the fundamental goal is the same for all predators, whether rapist, domestic abuser or cyberbully: domination and power.

What should we do when we witness cyber-abuse ourselves?

 Cast your mind back to the passers-by and the roles they played in my sexual assault. Those who seemed to do nothing, did in fact help me. The important thing to note is this: at no time did they put themselves in danger.

 This is very important. Unless we are verging on the dark side ourselves, we don’t wish anyone to suffer on our behalf, right? Those you see watching but not commenting are like my passers-by. They may well be there for you, unsure of whether you are aware of what’s going on. Let’s face it… you’re not showing your hand. Online observers can only see what your abuser can see: ZIP.

 How To Help A Cyber-Abuse Victim

 In recent times, I’ve had several individuals from across the country contact me and test the water, concerned that I might not be aware of the malicious scuttlebutt. Their relief at discovering that I’m all over it was palpable, but I felt so comforted to hear that they had been taking screen captures themselves in case I ever needed it. That’s the cyber-equivalent of my hero couple of 1990 [insert huge hug of gratitude here].

 In the battle against this growing social scourge, it’s vital that we all know how to handle cyber-abuse when we come across it. In my world of recreational fishing, it’s rife… and it’s worrying. We have so many young anglers coming into the sport who want to learn from and be supported by us older generations… and so they wade into the vile waters of our social media swamp. We must learn how to throw them a lifeline if they should ever need one.

 Which brings me to another brilliant tactic that I recently experienced… Copy this paragraph and save it for any time you are asked to get involved in online bullying (yes, cyber-bullies are that audacious!).

“My family and friends are on social media and I don’t know when or if they’ll see anything I post, but I do know this: I cannot be the person I want to be if I participate in humiliation or public shaming of any type, even if that’s extremely challenging at times. To do so would make me part of the problem, not the solution.”

Powerful and wise words, don’t you think? They effectively call out the behaviour, without directly accusing the perpetrator. There’s always the possibility that the cyberbully isn’t consciously aware that their on-line behaviour is abusive.

3 Key Actions That Help Stop Cyber-Abuse

  1. Take screenshots of abusive content.
  2. Diffuse any encouragement to participate by outlining better online behaviour.
  3. Report offensive and intimidating material to the platform — this is important, because in some cases (like libel, defamation and fake news), the victim’s own complaint might not be enough to shut down an account. It will take multiple reports for the platform to take notice.

 — In a Nut Shell —


If you are being cyber-bullied, here is my advice:

  1. Remember, it’s a vacuum! Very few people are actually paying attention, regardless of how overwhelming it feels when you’re being targeted.
  2. Screenshot everything: keep evidence of the cyber-bullying and on-line abuse, so you can prove it happened should you decide to report it. Keep copies of the direct messages, blog posts, social media posts, emails, photos, or whatever else was used.
  3. Don’t respond: Don’t retaliate — or do anything that might be perceived by an outsider to have contributed to the problem. Do not respond to the cyber-bully except to calmly ask them to stop. If they refuse, you may have to take additional actions. If you are ever afraid for your safety, you need to contact law enforcement to investigate. They can determine whether any threats made are credible. If they are, the police will formally investigate it. The evidence that you have collected will help them evaluate your situation.
  4. Report the abuse to the platform on which it is happening.
  5. If you feel your mental wellbeing is suffering, reach out for help. You’ll never regret it! Cyber-bullying is never the victim’s fault: nobody should be treated harshly and attacked, no matter who they are, what they do, where they come from, or who they love — no one under any circumstances, period. If anything of this sort happens to you, do not keep it bottled up inside; seek help. Talk to your friends, family members, human resources officials, or even healthcare professionals. They are there to help you find a solution to the problem.

When should you go to the police?

The police can help when you have reason to believe your safety is compromised. This might be through the sharing of personal details without your consent (known as “doxing”) that exposes you, through direct threats to your safety or if you are being encouraged to self-harm.

Of course, publishing of any explicit or modified imagery about you is also illegal and should be reported immediately.

Slander and opinions are ridiculously dubbed “free speech” in the criminal laws of Australia at the time of writing. Yes… the police cannot stop someone from knowingly publishing lies about you. Whether it’s morally right or not, that’s criminally okay. What a farce!

Australia’s civil law sees it differently. Defamation is a supreme court matter and requires a barrister to carry your case forward. The law stipulates that defamation is prosecutable if it leads to material loss, and therefore the punishment is material, i.e., you’ll be awarded financial damages if you win. You cannot simply request that the perpetrator set things straight by publishing an apology and admitting the lies. They must suffer a financial penalty. YUK.


Is the law an ass?

In my opinion, the current powers afforded to our police by Australian law are inadequate and fail to recognise the potential psychological harm caused to adult victims of cyber-abuse.

Police’ hands are tied unless the abuser threatens actual harm or directly suggests that the victim harm themselves, doxes the victim or alludes to harm that is likely to occur.

In fact, an abuser can knowingly craft published material that will inspire readers to consider perpetrating violence against the target. If such action is taken, the person carrying out the physical attack is in contravention of the law, but the motivator is not! As the causal material is legal, it is allowed to remain public, potentially recruiting further .

Throughout my personal quest to come to grips with being targeted in this way, it has struck me that the psychological resilience of adults is deemed stronger than that of adolescents (for whom stronger laws exist). This assumption simply adds to the damage caused, as it immediately suggests that an adult suffering mental health issues stemming from cyber-abuse is abnormally weak in some way.

As I see it, whilst we do benefit from greater maturity, we also have different points of vulnerability. For example, depending on age, adults may have decades invested into building a career and professional reputation. It’s not unusual to have a large part of one’s sense of personal identity wrapped up in this.

When that sense of identity is maliciously targeted, psychological harm can occur. Whilst Australian lawmakers may not consider this being a physical risk (leading to thoughts of self harm), cyber-abusers are aware that they can cause harm in this way — and they have no qualms about focusing on the loophole.

In my discussions with police, they confessed being unable to protect me against psychological attack unless my abuser directly encouraged me to self harm. As such, in the grown-up world, abusers seeking to destroy the credibility of their target are free to do so (regardless of psychological harm) — unless they impact their financial wellbeing, in which case civil defamation laws come into play.

Doesn’t this expose a vulnerability in our laws? There is currently no protection against deliberate psychological harm through defamation in the online space. It’s excused as free speech, despite being morally wrong. This is an area of law that I’d like to see re-examined, given the growing unavoidable role social media and electronic media play in our professional lives. Targeted individuals cannot simply shut down their online participation. The business world simply no longer allows that… the days of working in a purely offline world are long gone.

With mental health being recognised as one of the greatest economic challenges for Australia, I truly believe that we need to introduce criminal laws that recognise deliberate and malicious psychological attack as putting the target at physical risk, if they develop mental health issues as a result of the attacks. Closing that gap, in my opinion, would make the law “a little less of an ass”.

In Summary

As the laws stand, it’s difficult to hold bullies accountable for their actions. In a country such as Australia that values free speech so highly, some believe it’s their right to say whatever they want, to whomever they want (especially when a computer screen protects them from the visible reaction of the target). Rational people know that’s not true, but it isn’t clear where exactly the line is. So, for sanity, it’s best to turn to our morals.

Maturity dictates that just because we can say certain things, doesn’t mean we should. It’s little wonder that so many teens are wrestling a cyber-bullying epidemic— social media displays adults behaving abhorrently towards others on a regular basis. SHAME ON THEM!

Resist any temptation to respond to your bully. Doing so will only give them fodder for further attack. Reject their baits. Don’t fall for their tricks. I assure you; this will annoy them beyond measure.

One of the most troubling aspects of bullying on a victim is what other people think when they see what’s written — especially when we’re not calling it out. In response to this, consider your own behaviour when reading other people’s posts. The likelihood is that you will respond to the original post that pops up on your feed. Very occasionally, you might read through other people’s comments, but the likelihood that you follow each rabbit hole down into the warren is slim. This is true of all of us, which means that any abusive retorts posted on other strings are unlikely to be seen by many people.

Again, it’s a vacuum.

To win your battle, you need only rise above. Be the better human. Do your part to model appropriate behaviour and consider calling out bullies subtly (as per the example provided above) when you see it happening to others. The kids (and other adults) in your sphere of influence will hopefully see it, remember it, and become healthier, stronger people for it.

And, if you are succumbing to the negative thoughts that they are trying to inflict upon you, take it to your GP, not the internet. Start your journey towards Troll Slayer and the sense of power that comes from quietly besting the bully.

Frankly, I pity them. I hope you do too. More power to you. You’ve got this 😉


CARRIAGE SERVICE: A service for carrying communications by electromagnetic energy, including text messages, phone calls, voice messages or social media posts. In Australia, it is a criminal offence to use a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence.

CYBER BULLYING: Bullying undertaken through the use of technology. For example, using the internet, a mobile phone or a camera to attack, hurt or embarrass someone.

DEFAMATION: The publication of material which harms a person’s reputation.

DENIGRATION: Sending or posting cruel or offensive gossip or rumours about a person in order to damage their reputation, or their relationships (personal or professional) with others.

DOXING: The act of revealing (without the victim’s permission) identifying information about someone on-line, such as their name, home address, workplace, phone, financial and other personal details.

FLAMING: To attack or fight on-line using electronic messages, typically employing angry, inflammatory and/or vulgar language intended to incite a reaction in others. 

GAS LIGHTING: A form of psychological abuse whereby a person or group causes someone to question their own sanity, perception of reality, or memories. People experiencing gas lighting often feel confused, anxious and unable to trust themselves.

HARASSMENT: Aggressive pressure or intimidation.

LIBEL: The crime of publishing false statements damaging to a person’s reputation.

 SLANDER: The crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.

 TROLL: A person who posts inflammatory, insincere, digressive, extraneous or off-topic messages on-line with the intent of manipulating perceptions or provoking an emotional response in others.


These websites will help get further advice…

eSafety Commissioner

Beyond Blue
1300 22 4636

13 11 14



For assistance dealing with sexual assault