I’ve never been one to throw around the word bully. I believe it is quite dangerous to call any one a bully without understanding the true definition and the consequences of the label. So, let’s start there.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines the title bully as “a noisy, blustering, overbearing fellow, more distinguised for insolence and empty menaces, than for courage, and disposed to provoke quarrels.” The modern definition of bully as a verb: to discourage or frighten with threats or a domineering manner; intimidate.
I’ve always considered bullying to be an intentional and repetitive aggressive behavior. An attitude spawned from the intention to gain power over another; to gain the upper hand emotionally and/or physically. I believe it to be very different than displaying a mean spirit on only one or a couple of occasions.
Bullying has taken many different forms. From the playground and classroom to online cyber harassment.
Ray and I take pride in knowing who our kids friends are, and also what they do online. We keep tabs on who they friend on social media, and what they post. We know all of the passwords for their accounts and moniter them regularly. We have rules about when they are allowed online and what they can and can not do.
To be quite honest, I never really thought that my daughter would be the victim of a bully.
And, then it happened.
Now, we are fearful. Julia doesn’t sleep at night. We are constantly looking over our shoulder. We know we can be seen and heard, even in the misconceived privacy of our own home. We had to pull Julia and her best friend from school, and even had to send them out of state for a bit. We fear for their lives.
It all started in February…
Julia had been friends with a girl from school named Jaide, but she had noticed that the friendship was volatile. What sealed the deal for Julia was when Jaide had asked her to take photos of her undressing, so she could “send them to a guy.” Of course Julia had refused and this made Jaide very angry. There were many other things that Julia had noticed that caused her pause, so she decided that she should not be friends with her any longer.
Julia then began receiving messages from Jaide, calling her names, saying she hated her, and that Julia was the reason she had “started cutting again.”
Julia still had to see Jaide at school. During PE one day, Jaide told Julia and her friend Melody that she was going to kill herself and it was all their fault. She then went to the counselor and told her that our girls had been bullying her. Julia and Melody were called in to the office to be reprimanded, but were able to share their side and show screenshots of the messages.
We called the local police department, due to the nature of the messages, and he advised us to continue to talk to the school, and the assigned SRO. At that point, CPS and a local officer were called in to talk to Jaide. “She seemed in good spirits,” they said. “They claim it wasn’t her.”
From there it just got worse. More messages were sent and our girls’ Instagram accounts were hacked. Public accounts were used on Instagram to harass the girls, all in Jaide’s name. We had to keep Julia and Melody home from school, because everyone on campus was reading these horrible things being said to taunt and torture them.
Melody’s mom, Marti, and I confronted Jaide’s mother, but she claimed that Jaide, too, had been hacked and there was no way this was her. She claimed that Jaide’s accounts were all closed and she was no longer allowed online. Unfortunately that was not the case and I saw many updates from Jaide through the next several hours. Ultimately, Marti and I decided to file criminal charges against this girl.
Even during the interview with the police, Jaide was hacking in to Melody and Julia’s Instagram accounts, changing the password each time. Another friend, Kat, was also being attacked. We felt at that time that we could somehow be heard. We began to get that uneasy feeling that someone was watching us.
One afternoon, after a nap, Melody asked her mom if she’d be going back to school. Marti told her that it wasn’t like Jaide had sent any death threats. “If she did, you certainly would not be going to school.”
Then came the death threats. Jaide had accessed Julia’s Instagram account and sent Melody and Kat the threat through private message.
“…If you don’t kill yourselves, I will. You can go ahead and tell Julia that I am on her account, and I’m going to pretend to be her. I’m going to make everyone hate her.”
And, then it got crazy. More things were said in the privacy of our own homes and the girls would receive messages in response. We knew without any doubt, at this point, that we could be heard and seen, and figured it was through our phones and tablets. We had our phones wiped clean, changed the SIM cards, and had our phone numbers changed. Marti and I had Julia and Melody delete their Instagram accounts and they were not allowed to access any social media applications from their devices. We were terrified and taped over mics and cameras, and the girls feared even being in their own homes.
Marti and I agreed to allow our girls to create new Instagram accounts, so they could continue cooresponding with their friends. They created user names that were no where near their old ones, but it was only a matter of hours before Jaide found them.
When the messages continued, we decided to voluntarily submit our devices as evidence and have them checked for bugs and spyware. During the time that our county detective had our devices, Jaide continued to harass not only Julia and Melody, but anyone who they came in contact with – a new friend, a boy Julia liked, other mutual friends. Public harassment, defamation of character, and threats were posted publicly. Messages were sent privately from Julia and Melody’s accounts, and to them.
Our phones and tablets came back clean and for two whole days we felt somewhat safe. Then it got worse than we could have imagined when the girls received messages that mentioned what they were wearing and what they were doing. The messages got graphically disgusting and went on to state that Jaide has a guy who watches them, he has taken pictures of them naked, and Jaide planned to send them out to everyone. She told the girls that all of this would stop if “Melody gave her money and Julia gave her Bryce.”
Julia and Melody received another threat, but this time it was clear the girls would not be safe at school.
“I will kill you and if I cant I will make (a mutual friend) do it at school.”
We decided the girls should be home schooled the remainder of the year and withdrew them from school.
My Instagram account was also accessed by Jaide around this time. She got in, deleted my profile picture, changed my bio to “I’m a hater, lol” and sent a message to Julia.
“Even your mom isn’t safe … I’m glad you guys freaked out. I’m not that mean. I’ll always give your account back, but it’s funny.”
At this point, we were sure that our home networks had been compromised, mostly the Coffey’s. We believe that Jaide had help throughout this entire ordeal and has managed to use the Coffey’s network to hide behind. We also believe that our phones had been accessed the entire time, making it virtually impossible to catch Jaide, as all messages and accounts will show as being from our IP and MAC addresses. Essentially, she had been framing us.
We decided to go the FBI. Local law enforcement was not helping to put a stop to this crazyness, we didn’t feel safe in our own homes, and we feared for the well-being of our daughters, as well as for their future. We discovered later that this was a waste of time and that the FBI would not help us, due in part to the fact that two local law enforcement agancies were already on the case.
After our visit to the FBI, Jaide sent us a few more messages. She also accessed Melody’s phone, logging in to her own Instagram account – fsms_gossip – the account she had been using to harass and denegrate the girls. We discovered at this time that Jaide did, in fact, have access to our devices. We sought the counsel of an attorney and began our Cyberbully Victims page to bring public awareness to our situation.
Through our page, and the help of many friends, we were able to get the fsms_gossip Instagram account shut down. However, that just made Jaide even more angry and she began to take over our girls’ accounts. It wasn’t long after this, and several other attempts by Jaide to harass and threaten the girls, that we decided to have the girls delete all of their Instagram accounts, and we removed the apps from our devices.
Jaide then turned to KIK through which to send the girls messages. Marti phoned Jaide’s mother and spoke with her boyfriend regarding the situation. He spouted off a myriad of lies, as Jaide and her mother spoke and laughed at our expense in the background.
The very next day, the girls received messages from Jaide, referencing the conversation with her “step-dad” and making us aware of the fact that our girls were being physically stalked. This, of course, brought the “bullying” to a whole new level. We were no longer talking about just cyber-harassing and empty threats, but our girls were being physically stalked and were in real danger.
While the county sheriff’s department did nothing more than take our statements, our local police department did increase patrol in our neighborhood. All was calm and quiet… until today.
Today, after almost a whole month since the last message, Jaide decided to turn to Twitter.
“Hun, I’m back.”
“Sorry I’m late but my best friend found out and I promised her I would stop but she’s not with me right now.”
So, what’s next? Local law enforcement has failed us. Even the federal government has let this slip through their grasp. How do we know we are safe. Are we safe?
*I decided to use this girl’s real name, simply because we had already done so on our Facebook page, at the counsel of our attorney, and have posted screen shots from messages she had posted publicly.