Online bullying is a subject I could go on and on about. Recently there was an unfortunate event that took place here in the Treasure Valley, where a young woman received hurtful anonymous text messages from someone who was hell bent on being exactly that- hurtful. But what do you do when something like this happens to you? I have had my fair share of online "haters," and so has my wife. Actually, for years she was harassed by someone who created fake snapchats, instagrams, and facebook accounts that sent her disgusting messages. At first, receiving "hate mail," "anonymous messages," whatever you want to call it- can be extremely jarring. It can make your head spin. There have been times in my life I've caught myself searching through memories trying to think of who could hate me me so much to go out of their way to do something so despicable. One day my wife told me about an inspirational book she had read- and something she said has spoken to me since that day. A quote: "Hurt people, hurt people." People who are damaged, unhappy, and hurting inside lash out at others often as a way to gain control they desperately need to validate their existence. They feel bad about themselves, and have gotten to such a low point in their life they now live in the sad mental space where hurting other people brings them what they think is happiness. It's sick. It's illogical. But it happens. And the worst part is that these types of damaged people have no idea how much they are hurting themselves in the long run with these toxic behaviors. My best advice for people experiencing online bullying in this way:

A. Block the person in every way possible. Lock down your social medias. Do not make yourself available to this bully. Turn off your messenger on Facebook if necessary.
B. Know that anything the bully says is coming from a place of hurt, and is not true. In fact, you should pity this person and the dark place they are in.
C. Talk to your friends about it. Don't keep it a secret.
D. Document EVERYTHING. It never hurts to keep your receipts, just in case you end up needing them one day.
E. Don't respond to the bully or retaliate- this is what they want. Never give a bully what they want!
The internet can be a crazy place my friends. It may be common place to share our lives online now, but never forget there could be someone out there watching! If you or someone you know is being bullied online please reach out to someone you trust. Someone who can help your through it, and help you rise above it.

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