Why I Will Not Remain Silent Over Online Abuse
TW: Abuse, Violence
On my blog, I work hard to encourage, educate, empower and inspire girls and women. I look for girls and women to take part in my blog features related to body confidence, body positivity, bullying and abuse. These girls and women have a voice that deserves to be heard.
I am here to offer advice, listen to their problems, help them and support them. I dedicate at least 20 hours a week to my blog and have all the time in the world for a girl who’s struggling with one of these issues. I am passionate about what I do and I am passionate about being there to help.
What I do not have time for is derogatory messages from men who see me online and expect me to respond to their message straight away. These messages are not welcome, and lately these messages have turned abusive.
Here is a recent example: I was online talking to a woman about various issues she was going through. I was shown as “active,” but I was busy. I received a message from a man, asking where I was from. My location is nobody’s business. I didn’t respond.
Later that day, this man chose to send me a message again, this time telling me how much he liked my looks and that he thought I was sexy. This message did not dignify a response.
Later that evening, I was online again, and this man chose to send me an abusive message. He was cursing at me. He was obviously annoyed and had taken it to heart that I had not replied to his messages. He then made a point of unfriending me.
Now, I could sit back and let this kind of behavior continue by remaining silent. I could also do what a lot of other girls do, where they name and shame with screenshots. But I would like to think I am a peaceful soul who does not want unnecessary controversy or unnecessary confrontation. I chose to simply respond to his message in a calm and collected manner by letting him know that his attitude towards women was disgusting and I would not tolerate it. Even though he deleted me to prove a point, I simply blocked him to prevent further abuse and communication. I do not need unnecessary aggravation in my life.
It worries me how his behavior quickly escalated from overly complimenting me and assuming it was what I wanted or needed to hear. Compliments are nice, but your opinion of me is not always valid. I do not need my looks validated by a stranger. Why not compliment me on the work I do, the time I invest, how I help girls like those in his life?
I would rather be deleted and blocked than be associated with someone who has such an abysmal mentality. I have been told that I should spend my spare time talking to men like this simply because they have chosen to follow me. I have had my photos insulted. I have been asked why I am on social media if I will not respond to their messages, and recently I have been called degrading names. All this has occurred just because I have not responded to a message. This is despicable behavior.
I work 30 hours a week. I am married. I have a social life. I see my family. I have the usual mundane routine of chores, attending appointments and going to the grocery store. A lot of my spare time is devoted to helping people through my blog. I do this for no money. I am trying to be the person that I needed around me when I experienced similar things. I am connected to four organisations that help others. My time is precious. It can often be a tricky balancing act to make sure I don’t neglect the people and things that are so important to me, including myself.
I will gladly take time on a Sunday, my only day off, to respond to a girl who is upset due to bullying or body shaming. But I will not spend my free time placating these men to “keep them sweet” by conversing with them, or out of fear that if I don’t “play nice,” I might receive further abusive messages or be unfollowed. I would rather lose followers who do not respect me and what I stand for than keep them for the sake of numbers.
Speaking on behalf of women, there is so much more to us than our looks. Women are not here to fuel the ego of this certain breed of men. We might have beauty, but we also have brains and we deserve to be respected.