When Online moves Offline – What do we choose to do?

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In August 2018 I made a post on social media titled #smallbusiness isn’t the only thing that gets done in #ballina – more detail soon. @ Ballina. This was on the morning I was attending Ballina Local Court in relation to a Personal Violence Order (PVO) that I had applied for myself.

It stemmed from phone calls made to me personally by a person that wasn’t known to me at the time. This person had a lot of information about me and what I was doing, which isn’t difficult considering I live somewhat in the public eye. He would disclose no information to me about himself, a blocked caller ID, no name or location but he called me a number of times within quick succession in mid June 2018.

So why go and apply for a PVO some may ask. These calls were targeting my recent talks and community project ‘Police Are People’ as well as my long time close friendship with Serge Benhayon. The nature of the calls included a number of threats including; “I’m coming down and I’m gunna break your f#@king pretty jaw” and “You’re f#@king gone” as well as continual comments like “You’re just a f#@king grub, a slime bag”. From this you could say it’s self-explanatory why I took out the PVO, which is true but for me what was also important was highlighting the way this was done and used.

We live now in a world that many people post their lives online which connects us with friends, family and others. Some use this as a way to ‘stay in touch’ while others use it as another means to harass, menace and threaten people. We have filters for this and usually there is an acceptance of sorts for people carrying any style of public profile that they have to be prepared to wear a certain amount of harassment due to their choice of work or service. I admit once being apart of the belief that this is ok or ‘normal’, but now I can see that no matter who you are, what you are doing or what you have done there is no place for anyone to target people in anyway, let alone using communication devices or social media anonymously or in any way as a medium to vent at others.

From my experience I knew this incident was one initially I would need to action myself and so I took detailed notes in my phone of what was said straight after each call. Because there was a number of calls I also was able to allow others to witness what was being said. With the notes I had made I was also able to call on the community around me to identify the person, which then allowed me to apply for a PVO and also assist me in my report to the local Police. This did shake me up for sure due to the severity, intensity and anonymity of the calls and what was said. I found that once I applied for the PVO and also reported it to the Police I was more settled in the knowledge that something was being done and more so that I had taken steps to ‘answer’ the menacing and threatening way this was done.

The result so far was that I was granted the PVO for 12 months with the defendant not appearing in person but having a legal representative present and consenting to the order. The Police investigation is still underway and if needed I will update further with that outcome.

I felt to write and post about this for a few reasons. One of them being that we can’t just talk about what we see needs to change, when the opportunity knocks in any way we need to answer it and take it to the highest place rather than sitting back and accepting what we know inside us isn’t true or ‘just’. That no matter who you are or what you do or what you have said or done no one has the right to harass you, no matter how they justify or dress it up and the world of anonymity needs to be addressed strongly. If you are taking the steps to comment or call someone personally in this way then they have a right to know who you are and what your agenda is.

For me it goes beyond coward to sit behind a communication device and threaten, menace and or harass people. If you have witnessed or been impacted in this way I would strongly recommend reporting it to the Police and to anyone else you see that can take action. After all, if we don’t make a stand at this point then in time to come where will the ‘norm’ stand and how far do we let this go?