Why I Don’t Get to be Your Victim

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 5.42.17 PMThe World Wide Web can be a really scary place. Boogeymen do live here and they are very real. I am writing this for bullies to read, because I am being bullied and most importantly, I am writing this for their victims. And I am writing this for myself as a way to face my fears and take back my life. I choose to speak up and not be a victim anymore and I hope if you are being bullied, especially in cyberspace, that I can help you take positive action to end your nightmare. Bear with me. I have a few things to say first before I tell you the legal steps I am taking to end my nightmare. Scroll down to skip to those steps.

The Web is a Scary and Beautiful World 

The reason why the Internet is so scary is because it is full of human beings and human beings can be really mean, especially when they are broken. I understand. I once was broken, too. The World Wide Web is also an inspiring place and miracles of kindness happen everyday. Families video each other from around the world, soldiers get to Skype their children, children get to write and publish stories, people share knowledge and wisdom freely. We can provide aid to tsunami victims or spread information for safe havens in a war torn country. It can be the place where you get to spread kindness and help millions. It can be a place you choose to spread a message of hope, strength, passion, and love.

My Mission, My Passion, My Story

When I first began spreading my message of inspiration, kindness, and passion years ago, I knew there were battles to be fought. I knew there would be people who would hate my work, energy, and fire so much that they would threaten my life and my reputation. I knew and I prepared myself and my mind for battles. Bad things don’t happen, because people deserve them or because you are on the web. Bad things happen, because that is life and that is what living is about. If you choose to spread good and fight the negativity in this world, guess what, you’ll have even more battles, more hardship. If you do it online and your life is an open book then your attackers can get to you, pretty easily.

I remember reading about the heroes of our world, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others. They died for spreading their passion and even for trying to help those who attacked them find peace. Millions of others throughout history who dare to transform the world have not met the best outcomes. I’m not afraid. Bullies don’t get to stop my good work. They don’t get to shut me up. And they don’t get to make me change the way I live my life. Spreading positivity is important work. And those who decide to spread hate and violence just fuel my fire for how important my work is needed. Too many broken people have the power and strength to ruin lives, create nightmares for millions. There are millions of bullying victims. There are millions of families who have suffered at the hands of criminals and violent acts.

One day I woke up….

I was my attacker. Not that I was a bully, but I did feel broken and I allowed myself to focus my energy on misguided things. I kept thinking why is the world so cruel to “me”. And yes, I have had dear friends pass away way too young, including someone I loved quite deeply. And yes, I have faced abuse. And yes, I have faced poverty. There’s a lot I have faced and none of that gives me any excuse to wreck havoc or cruelty. People, somewhere in the past, have faced way more than most of us will ever face and those people have chosen to help others and spread good.

I changed my thinking. I began to read about the millions of ways I could make others feel my misery, thinking that would make me whole. I prayed, fasted, joined religious institutions, etc and couldn’t find my peace. Then, suddenly, the prayers worked, probably from my family and loved ones. And I realized that instead of working so hard on focusing on my misery, I could put all that energy into doing the easier thing, focusing on my passion and filling up my life with what I believe is important. We all have purpose. We just have to stop wasting our energy on things that won’t fix us. We have to stop wishing we had what we “imagine” others have and begin to focus on what inspires us. If you, bully, would take all that strength, passion, energy, and action you put into making others miserable and put that to work in your life, to make positive steps to make you whole, then you would see your life improve. You would find the inner peace you look for.

I’m Speaking Up

I have a cyberbully and I’m not the first person to have one and sadly enough, millions of the people I help, including my students, will also face many bullies in their lives. Too many people who are not whole, who have not taken on my challenge for them to live inspired lives, will create misery for others because they think it will fix their brokenness.

If you try to break someone and you succeed, you will not fix what is broken in you. You will continue to foster that brokenness in you. However, if you face your fears and take “your victim” mentality and take the steps to achieve your dream, then your life will be so much different than now. You may not be the next pop star or even have millions. However, you will feel much better about yourself and you will have helped others and more importantly, you will have been part of the solution to ending all the negativity and cruelty in this world.

Enough is enough. Stop being part of the problem why this world is full of broken people. Stop being someone’s nightmare. Achieve your dreams. Try to find peace. Try to be whole.

Legal Action

If you have a bully or someone who is harassing you, this is what I am doing:

  • Document everything- take screen shots of conversations. Search their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. when they think you aren’t and take screen shots of what they post to show their mental state. I have found bullies like to brag and usually publicly. This has helped me take a stand against mine.
  • Don’t give in and be mean to your bully. Don’t take the cheap shots that will give you brief moments of peace. Instead, talk to friends, family, a hotline. Go running, take kickboxing, or work it out. Turn on the music really loud and scream to the top of your lungs. Just try not to engage. You can not make people who have a vendetta against you change their mindset. That usually takes a professional and a mediator.
  • Get a lawyer. Try to raise money for one or ask your friends and family for support. They might know someone. There is in some states a Victims’ fund and you may later get to sue your bully to pay for those costs.
  • Join a support group. It helps to know you aren’t alone in this and to hear how others survive. Usually you can find this in your local newspaper or Google “bully support group” and your city.
  • Put a CHO into place. This is a Civil Harassment Order and here is one guide with steps, but you will need to follow the laws for your area. Google this and your state or you will find the information in the Attorney General’s page. This is your first legal step.
  • If your bully continues, they may not realize some of the words and actions they have taken are considered “hate crimes, assault, etc.” Document everything because this will be your next step as well as slander, etc. A good lawyer will help you take the steps you need, one day at a time.
  • Don’t be lenient legally on your bully if he/she continues and doesn’t stop, especially if your bully involves your loved ones and friends like mine is doing. The law will help, it just takes time but someday you will wake up and you’ll feel safe again.
  • Remember, you don’t deserve this. No one deserves to be a victim, not even bullies. Most bullies were the victims of others. I understand this but that doesn’t mean we get to choose to perpetuate the cycle. We can choose, instead, to break the cycle and perpetuate new cycles just by deciding to use our lives to be a positive force in the world.

Thank you reader for listening. Thank you for sharing my projects. Thank you for participating. Thank you for the messages I get daily that tell me how much I make a positive difference in your life. I truly love and appreciate each of you. Your words are powerful support.

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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell), Facebook.com/ShellyTerrell, and on her blog, TeacherRebootCamp.com, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at https://www.slideshare.net/ShellTerrell/presentations


  1. You’re right. You don’t deserve to be bullied. No one does. Bullies are weaklings themselves.

    I love you, Shelly! 🙂

    • Love you, too, Tyson! Hope I get to visit you this summer. I’m trying to put together a world tour. It’s about time I did some workshops cross country.

  2. Shelly, you are courageous to post this. I am so sorry someone is behaving so atrociously toward you. You are compassionate when you point out that bullies themselves are broken, but absolutely correct in stating that it is not ok for them to pass along the pain and that if reasoning won’t stop them, they should face legal consequences.

    Shelly, you were the first person who took notice of me on Twitter and encouraged me as I made my first tentative steps into the land of PLN building. My professional life is so much more rewarding four and a half years later because of the connections I’ve made. I often remember your encouragement and try to provide similar encouragement to others. Thank you for taking time to invest in me. And for choosing to focus on the good. Your life is a gift to so many. No bully can ever take that away.

    Prayers for you to persevere.

    • Hi Sandy,

      Thank you for sharing that kind story and the prayers. Part of the reason I wrote this was to get my fight back in me and remind myself that I can’t let someone rob me of my precious time in this world. And I did let this person do that. I began to think of the holidays I spent in tears and anger. There was Halloween, my birthday, and Thanksgiving. I won’t be able to celebrate those again and that made me really mad that I had let someone do that to me. Sometimes, we have to give ourselves peptalks. Thank you for the encouraging words.

  3. Tyson is absolutely right in saying you (or anyone else) don’t deserve to be bullied. But the silver lining is that it pushed you to write such an inspiring, empowering post that will (hopefully) help so many other people who might be going through the same ordeal, Shell.

    You’re very very brave to be standing up – and thinking of others on the way. You’re amazing, and I’m very proud to be your friend.


  4. So sorry you are going through this, Shelly. Know that you have the support and love of tens of thousands of us who are grateful to you and inspired by you every day. As in everything else you do, the way you are dealing with this by writing an important article on this issue is further evidence of the importance of your work for educators all over the world. I hope that it is not long before this bully leaves you alone (and is made aware of the severity of their actions). XP

    • Thanks Patrick,

      I hadn’t look at this post till today after writing it. I had to get it out but it wiped me out. I also took a few days off the Internet and didn’t open the computer at all. It’s incredible to come back and see so much support. Thank you.

  5. It sounds as if you know your bully Shelley, I hope the threat of legal action stops it for you. Keep strong x

    • Carol,

      I have never met this person in person but I do know who it is. It was a result of being friends with someone else that brought her into my life. Unfortunately, that means she does live near me. Legal action is the best way to go with this in mind even though that is a long, tedious process.

  6. Good luck with your battle against your bully. You are so right, the most important things are not to engage – oh so difficult, we all have the instinct to fight back – and to take positive, affirming, legal action. Knowing that your bully is broken and having compassion for that is so good, but also knowing that you can’t fix that person, that the fixing needs to be done by someone else, that’s also so important, for your own well being as well as theirs.
    Thanks so much for continuing to trust and share, Shelly.

    • Thanks Ceri,

      You are right about the not fighting back. It’s difficult because dealing with a bully in the physical world is a little different than in the cyberworld. Everything can be recorded and used against you. Being wise and rational enough to keep that in mind has helped not make this problem worse.

  7. Dearest Shelly, You are the greatest. You know that we are hundreds, no, thousands who owe you !
    I wouldn’t have really understood before last year, when I received an email that left me trembling in front of my screen.
    It’s clear that someone who behaves like that has personal problems, but whaw, the effect when it’s turned on you is really devastating.
    We have a lovely expression in French: “la bave du crapaud n’atteint pas la blanche colombe” which gives literally:
    “the slime of the toad doesn’t reach the white dove” and means
    basically, leave them to rot in their misery.
    Thanks for sharing, as usual you’re helping thousands

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      Thank you for the support and kind words. These things happen and this event has made me reflect. For awhile, I thought it might be my social media presence but when I was growing up I dealt with bullies in school. Bullies are everywhere, virtually and in the physical world. Maybe my struggles will help others.



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