“It’s one thing that every woman is aware of, but they’re scared to talk about. It is so traumatizing when it happens to you, and it damages people emotionally and financially.”
~ Anthea Paul
When I was 8 my mom met the man that would eventually become my stepdad. The summer before they got married, I found myself in the backseat of our car between two cat carriers headed up Hwy 75, my mom deciding that we would relocate to where he was – some foreign place called Kansas.
I was sad to leave behind all the attachments I’d formed, the friends I had, but I was excited about this new adventure.
I ended up in tears that night, crying on my pillow after the first day of school in this new place I called home. And the day after. And so on. I learned quickly who the queen bee was, the pecking order, and what the queen did and did not like. At 8, though, I didn’t understand the motives of these girls calling me names, why they excluded me, and why they seemed to want to see me suffer – I just knew it hurt, really badly.
And this treatment of me by other females hasn’t stopped since I was that little girl at 8, it’s just become more insidious and traumatizing over the years and left me constantly questioning why this occurs – is it really a “me” problem? Or is something else going on here?
A little over a year ago, there was a woman whose posts I’d sometimes see cross my timeline on Twitter. It appeared we had some fringes of our circles in common and would every so often post on a tweet one or the other had made, mostly regarding feminism, masculinity, or the like. In July of 2022, she sent me a direct message asking me if I was OK and encouraged me to vent to her. We’d never spoken prior at great lengths, so I was reserved with what I said, thanked her for listening, and went on my way.
Her exchanges with me on the timeline after that dm exchange grew quite catty and I was confused as to what I had done. Not too long after this, she quit corresponding with me on the timeline all together and began a yearlong mission hellbent on harassing me, stalking me, gossiping about me, tarnishing my character and reputation, and playing gatekeeper with opportunities for me to collaborate with other creators.
When I first noticed what she was doing, and that I was being unfairly targeted, I went immediately to one of her friends and asked that he please tell her to stop or at the very least tell me what I had done to deserve the treatment. Nothing was done, so I asked her publicly, multiple times, to please tell me what I had done to deserve the harassment and to please stop. She would never reply to any of my (many) attempts to get some kind of constructive dialogue going. Growing more and more tired over the months of the constant harassment and seeing as that I wasn’t going to get anywhere trying to talk to them directly, I tried once more to see if another friend of hers could maybe talk to her to see why she was doing this and what could be done to get it to stop. I wish this is where I could say and he did and she talked to me and we worked it out but alas, all I received was more silence.
For months now I have given up on trying to find some kind of resolve to the weekly covert psychological attacks on me she does, accepting that I would just have to take the abuse and do my best to not let it affect me.
But that shit will affect you, it will. No matter how much you try to turn the other cheek, pretend they don’t exist, learn to understand why they do it (they aren’t well), the hurt, the fear, the confusion, all of it finds a way to seep back in, creating this constant battle of worthiness vs not. There really is no value you can put on the amount of detrimental damage this kind of stuff can do to a human and I’m grateful to be as strong as I am while having to endure it.
But some aren’t as strong as me; what about those women?
There I was this past Sunday, just scrolling Twitter, when I saw an account that had posted something quickly catching my eye. I had never seen this account before, or the woman in the picture, who went by the name of Vanessa. They had posted a video link to YouTube and tagged the woman that has been harassing me in the tweet containing the video link. you are damn right I became curious. So, I clicked on the video link and for the next 6ish minutes I sat paralyzed, a single tear falling from my eye.
Once I digested what I had just heard, I immediately sent both the Twitter account and the Youtube video to a trusted friend, who watched it, as well. They called me after they watched, and it was a very bittersweet moment.
I’d known that I was being abused and severely harassed by this woman but female bullies work in such insidious ways it was often hard for me to make what she was doing make sense to another. This is exactly what the bully wants – to cause such discord to another in such a passive aggressive way, should her victim call her out on it the tables are easily flipped to make the victim appear crazy. Trust me, I tried to call her out many times only to be dehumanized. I stopped standing up for myself because of the abuse I’d have to take AFTER the abuse I was just trying to stand up against.
I have been in some of my darkest times because of things this woman has done to me, things I’ll never forget. There were times she’s made me want to give up on everything, crawl in some hole and die. But by the grace of God, on Sunday I learned I wasn’t alone – some other woman out there was leaving a video documenting her experience with the same exact woman that had been hurting me, and I got to watch it before this Vanessa girl took both her Twitter account down and the video, only hours after she had posted it – I was very lucky that morning, to say the least.
Again, I have never in my life met the woman or spoken to the woman on the video I watched or the account the video came from – I need that known. This Vanessa has her own story, and she was brave to share it for however briefly with the world. I will not tell her story for her, but I will say Vanessa has experienced almost identical treatment from the same woman as I, except Vanessa isn’t handling it well. I spent Sunday worried about this stranger who said many times how this bully made her want to end her life.
So, this is why I’m speaking.
The only victims here are me and any other human that has had to endure the dehumanization and fear caused by this woman. There is now proof that this is a pattern of behavior for her and it is causing a lot of damage to people who don’t deserve it. I will no longer allow her to cause the harm she has to others. I will no longer allow her to drag my character and reputation through the mud. And I will no longer bite my tongue and let her play victim when someone is courageous enough to call her vile behavior out.
Vanessa, if you are out there and reading this, it’s going to be okay. There are people looking over us, I promise.
And for the rest of you…
When I started researching female on female bullying it was like I’d discovered an underworld of Truths nobody talks about. Those Truths speak on the prevalence of this occurring – to women like your mother, your daughter, your wife – and the reasons why we, as women, are forced to suffer silently at the hands of our own gender.
Women bullying other women isn’t a phenomenon, it’s occurred for years. What is a phenomenon, is the acceptance of it. We don’t accept physical fights in modern society– whether it be on the schoolyard or outside of a bar -– we acknowledge that hurting another physically isn’t ok, we tell our kids not to let others bully them (physically) or to bully another, however, we don’t often expand on how hurt comes in just as many covert ways as it does physical, and how these Machiavellian techniques are used by girls/women to cause harm to one of their own, which leaves most blind to the devastation occurring to the matriarchs of this world.
Our women deserve better from their brothers and sisters, as do their children. Period.
*Edit - I received a direct message from this Vanessa girl requesting I remove the previous screenshots I had posted - I, of course, complied. But, we are in touch... she is real...