After A Friendship Ended, I Was The Victim Of Vicious Online Bullying

by Jessa Hillman
Thought Catalog/Unsplash

Have you ever read a nasty comment online?

Who am I kidding, right? Of course we all have.

How many of you have ready a nasty comment online about yourself?

It hurts, doesn’t it? It makes you feel lousy. Someone you may not even know sat in the comfort of their own home, looked at a picture you posted online or read something you wrote, and thought so little of you that they submitted their nasty comment with no regard for how it would make you feel.

That’s what I thought to myself, anyway, when it happened to me.

Several months ago I published an article about my experience with a close friend – our friendship fell to pieces shortly after I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I kept the post anonymous to protect the friend’s privacy as well as my own. I didn’t mention where this friend lived, who she was, any identifying features – only snippets of our conversations.

After the post was published, I started receiving vicious, nasty comments on my Instagram page from members of this friend’s family. They went through the whole book of insults. They tried insulting me as a person and as a mom, and when they were done they didn’t even stand by their insults – they took them all down. (Which, why even remove your comments if you felt so strongly about saying them in the first place?)

And you know what? The next day I still woke up with a smile on my face. My two kids woke up and rushed to my bed to give me hugs and kisses. All the good things that were in my life before those comments were posted were still there. Yes, my feelings had been hurt by these women who knew nothing about me. But nothing else about my life had changed as a result of their bad attitude. They know nothing of being a mother, of being a writer, or of being a good friend.

Lina E/Unsplash

They attacked me online where they felt comfortable hiding behind their computer or cell phone, instead of having an adult conversation with me. When that’s the case, you have to just let it go.

I could have let myself get upset over the things they said about me. I could have sulked, and I could have let their words have power over me – power that they didn’t deserve to have! Instead, I went through the next day feeling stronger and more confident about my life than I had before they contacted me. I know my identity as a mother, and I’m confident in that. I know my identity as a wife, a daughter, an employee, and a friend – and I’m confident in all of those.

That might not always be the case, though. Maybe someone said hurtful things to you, and you felt some truth behind them. Maybe those hurtful words got you thinking about your own life, wondering if you’d made all the right decisions, second guessing the beautiful life you’re living. My advice to you would be: don’t let the darkness in someone else dim your light.

If you ever find yourself the victim of online bullying that turns to threats of violence, do not take it lightly. Screenshot each comment. Do not engage with them or provoke them. Email it to yourself, turn it in to the police, tell the people closest to you. Do not keep that to yourself or let those types of threats continue.

My mom sent me this great quote the day after my experience, and the lesson behind it is powerful:

“Don’t get angry or enraged or insulted. Rise above the bulls**t. Flick your light back on, and shine it brighter than ever, and fall so deeply in love with your own life that anyone who tried to wrong you becomes a laughable, ridiculous, distant, memory.” — From “Stripped” by Cara Alwill Leyba

I love that last part. “Fall so deeply in love with your own life that anyone who tried to wrong you becomes a laughable, ridiculous, distant memory.”


Internet bullying is absolutely ridiculous. I scroll through comments sometimes and am just baffled at what people say to complete strangers. 90 percent of these people wouldn’t dare say those same things to an actual person’s face.

Women aren’t supporting other women. Instead, when they are hurting inside, they take it out on other women. When will this stop?

When will we stop shaming each other for our choices? When will we stop shaming other moms for their choices? Breastfeed, or don’t. Work, or don’t. It makes no difference to my happiness, because it’s your life to love!

This is a safe place for you, I want you to know that. As mothers and as women, I support you. Your choices, whatever they are, are the right ones for your family.

You are strong. You can rise above the bulls**t. You will.