Vir Cotto's BDSM Blog

In Response to Cyberbullying

Last week, I was the victim of cyberbullying by a person in the kink community. Reflecting on my experience, I've had a few thoughts about cyberbullying, as well as abusive behavior in general.

First, cyberbullying is no different than other forms of bullying or abusive behavior. Recently on Fetlife K&P, a woman made a public post about how another member had photoshopped himself into a photo of her performing a sexual act on her. She felt violated by this simulated act, and many people sympathized with her experience- while others didn't "see the big deal" since the act was not real. The important part here is not whether or not she was physically violated but rather whether or not she was emotionally affected by it, which she clearly was. Acts of abuse have the same emotional impact on the victim whether they are physically present or on the computer, and statistics about suicides that result from cyberbullying show just how intense and devastating those experiences can be.

In my case, after the abuse, I was unable to rest properly for about two days, despite getting emotional support from both my partner and a close friend. This is despite me being educated on cyberbullying, and bullying in general and being tangentially in the mental health field.

Secondly, haven't complained to the forum operator about this person's behavior. I know if I did, then I would be subjecting myself to more questioning or bullying by this person in the future. Many victims don't report their abuser or wait weeks, months or years to do so. This is the time it may take someone to process the experience and get through it, and so ideas of statues of limitations for accepting complaints should not exist.

Thirdly, I found out recently that this same person was engaging in similar behavior at a recent event, using vague threats to manipulate others and make them feel uncomfortable. To reiterate my first point, cyberbullying is no different than regular bullying.

Fourth, we as a community need to be able to hear complaints about issues that go beyond consent violations. Consent violations are serious and demand action, but they are not the only type of problematic behavior.

Fifth, one of the techniques I've seen used, not just by this individual, but other bullies in the scene is the threat of shunning and ostracization. While my bully did not use these words, the implication is, "No one will believe you because I have power.". For my own recovery, as well as those for friends, I will remind us all that this community is tiny and fickle. Making people afraid to talk about their abuse is in itself a demonstration of the abuse pattern, and while no one can be assured of anything, you can be fairly certain that if someone is abusive to you, they've either been or soon will be abusive to others and it will come out.

To myself and others who have had to deal with bullying, inside and outside the scene, in person or online, I offer you my hugs and support.