Online bullying is a fact of life, and happens in every social movement and in every dusty corner of the web; however, it is particularly insidious in the animal rescue movement because it destroys the very protective fiber the animals depend on for their salvation.
In Part II of our two-part series on Bullying in the Animal Rescue Movement, Who Chains You founder Tamira Thayne offers a five-step process for online bullies who want to put an end to abuse of others and change their lives for the better.
1. Get Straight with Yourself
For an online bully, coming clean will not be an easy process, and most-likely only 1 in 100 will find it within herself (since the bulk of the online bullying in the rescue community comes from women, I will be using “she/her” throughout. Feel free to substitute “he/his” as needed) to grow enough to change.
But, one cannot begin to change without taking responsibility for the actions that have caused harm to others. That means putting an end to the blame game, an end to the justifications, and taking an honest inventory of what you’ve done and to whom.
Here are some possible suggestions as to the actions you’ve taken to cause harm. Make yourself a list and resolve to take the steps necessary to fix the behaviors.
Lying about others? Check.
Starting fake profiles in order to stalk or intimidate others? Check.
Starting online facebook pages who’s sole intention is to harm the target of your bullying? Check.
Creating or amplifying online rumors that are hurtful and untrue? Check.
These four behaviors (and more, don’t skip any) are established big guns in the arsenal of the online bully. Take stock of what you’ve done and to whom. You can’t change it until you own it.
2. Figure Out the WHY Behind What You’ve Done
Digging deep within and being honest with yourself about WHY you’ve targeted others in the animal rescue community is an important step in the healing process. If you don’t understand why you’ve done it, how can you fix it?
Jealousy? Whether or not an online bully will admit it, most bullies operate from a place of jealousy and envy. “Why does that rescuer get so much attention for her rescues? Why am I not getting the attention I crave? I need to put a stop to that.”
Although everyone in society has experienced jealousy in his/her life, most don’t target and attempt to destroy the person they find themselves envious of. Must folks understand that if they are jealous it is solely THEIR problem, and taking action to harm others is a line they will not cross. What makes an online bully different?
Mental Issues? Although there’s not a human alive that has no emotional or mental issues, those who take their jealousy to targeting status have allowed these issues to get the better of them. Therapy (and tapping, see the below video to get you started) are two of hundreds of possible methods for dealing with and healing yourself from mental or emotional pain.
Remember, just because you are in pain, you have no right to take that pain out on innocents.
3. Stay Away from Triggers Such as Other Animal Rescue Groups or Online Pages Until You’ve Gotten Through your Program
Just as an alcoholic needs to avoid the bars, so the online bully who wants to get better needs to avoid the situations that bring out her worst behavior. Don’t join a new rescue group as a volunteer or online Facebook pages where you might be tempted to bully. Until you can feel strong enough to avoid the temptation to victimize others, it’s best to just keep your own council and work on your own self-improvement.
4. Make Amends—One Cannot Underestimate the Importance of this Step.
Once you’ve taken responsibility in your own mind and figured out the underlying issues that have caused you to behave badly, it’s time for you to take responsibility for your behavior with the victim AND the world at large.
This step is very difficult for most, BUT it’s also the most crucial—because your victim will continue to feel victimized by you unless you take steps to alleviate her pain.
If you’ve announced to the world that your target is a [insert lie here], then it’s also your obligation to announce the truth to the world and do what you can to repair her reputation.
It could be something as simple as the following letter that is sent to the victim and then made public online:
I have been bullying you online, and I have realized that I was wrong in doing so. I would like to say “I’m Sorry”, and I would also like to make amends to you by publicly posting that the things I said about you were NOT TRUE. I’m sorry for destroying your reputation and for harming your rescue efforts. I am changing my life, and making amends to you is a big part of that. If there is more I can do to help restore your character, please don’t hesitate to ask.
5. Celebrate your Ascent from Madness into Braveness and FIND YOUR PASSION!
Given that only 1 in 100 will actually take responsibility for the harm they do others, if you’ve done the work to get to the 5th level, pat yourself on the back! You’ve shown tremendous growth of spirit.
In order to prevent you from slipping back into online bullying status, it’s time to grow even more by Finding what Makes your Soul Sing!
At a loss for discovering your passion? My favorite tool for discovering my soul’s purpose was a book called “You Already Know What to Do” by Sharon Franquemont, which I credit for helping me clarify my mission and my decision to form Dogs Deserve Better in 2002. I recommend it; or, I’m sure there are many others out there that can speak to you and help you find the gift that will bring your soul the most joy.
I wish you the best of luck.
Below, tap along with Tamira Thayne in this week’s Tapping Tuesdays at 2 episode to learn how tapping can help you release negative emotions.
To take your own free tapping courses and go in-depth into tapping, visit the creator’s website at http://www.emofree.com.
Tamira Thayne is the founder of Who Chains You Books and Spiritual Mentoring, and the pioneer of the anti-chaining movement in America. She spent 13 years on the front lines of chained-dog activism and rescue as founder and CEO of Dogs Deserve Better. She is the author of Foster Doggie Insanity: Tips and Tales to Keep your Kool as a Doggie Foster Parent, and Capitol in Chains: 54 Days of the Doghouse Blues. To book a one-on-one session with Mr. Thayne, visit the website at http://www.whochainsyou.com/activism.html.