In another blog, I told you a little about me – my background, who I am and what’s important to me – so you could get a sense of what I’m like as an agent. This blog is important to me too, because it’s a topic I feel strongly about, both for myself and others. I’ve always said I never wanted to be in FRANK Magazine, but unfortunately, I’ve been in a few issues. The reason is something becoming all too common and harmful in today’s world of digital interactions. This time, I want to talk about cyberbullying. In 2018, I received an email from a stranger suggesting I take a closer look at some social media posts about me and I discovered that some people (known to me) had begun an online smear campaign about me that went on for more than a year. [I’m not going to talk about who it was because it doesn’t matter and I don’t want that to be the focus here.] The posts attacked me personally and professionally. Accusations and comments were posted on Facebook for the public to see and on my business page where current and prospective clients would see them. Similar accusations to my brokerage's office and to the Nova Scotia Real Estate Commission, and even called the police to lodge complaints against me. When my lawyer directed them to stop, they filed multiple complaints about him to the Nova Scotia Bar Association, until the Association had to tell them to stop. Nova Scotia’s Cyber-Protection Act
Try to imagine the impact of all of this on my health, my personal and professional reputation and my sense of security. So December, 2018 after more than three months of this constant barrage of online abuse, I decided to file a civil suit against both of them under Nova Scotia’s Cyber-Protection Act, legislation that resulted from the heartbreaking 2013 suicide of local teen, Retaeh Parsons.
The Act defines cyberbullying as electronic communication that causes or is likely to case harm to another individual’s health or wellbeing, and includes creating counterfeit web pages, blogs or profiles; impersonating someone else to author content or messages; disclosing sensitive personal facts or breach of confidence; threats, intimidation or menacing conduct; communications that are grossly offensive, indecent or obscene; harassing communications; making false allegations; inciting or encouraging someone to commit suicide; or denigrating someone through discrimination listed in the Human Rights Act. Anyone the Court determines has engaged in cyberbullying can be ordered to stop engaging in cyberbullying activities, stop contacting the victim, take down or disable the bullying content, pay damages, and/or anything else the Court deems appropriate.
After several hearings in Court last summer, it was so incredibly gratifying to find out in December that the judge had decided in my favour, finally putting a stop to the harassment. We’re still awaiting the judge’s decision on damages but my main concern has always been for the bullying to stop so I can put this behind me.
It’s seems strange to say but I’m glad this happened to me, certainly not because I enjoyed any part of it, but because I found I have the personal strength to fight for myself. It is an issue I am passionate about and becoming more so every day I fight this case. I am not going to let Cyber Bullying be the focus of my life I am going to continue to sell houses and support my family.
Cyberbullying Hurts so Many I can’t imagine how many other people, especially young girls, boys, women and men, go through this and suffer irreparable damage to their self-esteem and their reputations because they can’t sustain the legal fight. And that’s not right. We’ve seen how that can end and we need to do more to stop it. At the least, I hope that, as more cases are brought to the Courts, the Act gains momentum and offers victims better, stronger support than it currently does. There is currently no financial support for victims to pursue legal action. Cyberbullying also hurts those who are not the intended targets, such as one’s children who have to endure schoolyard taunts from other children who read the insults and lies. Putting an End to Cyberbullying
But this isn’t just in the hands of the Court. We all have a role to play in putting an end to cyberbullying. It begins with setting a good example for our children in terms of kindness and appropriate online behaviour. We need to hold ourselves, each other and our children accountable for what’s said online just as much as what’s said face-to-face. It’s all too easy to forget about the feelings of the person on the other side of the keyboard and say things we would never say in real life, but that’s not okay. It’s not okay for kids to do and it’s not okay for adults either. Some people think this is an issue of freedom of speech, and if that’s the case, before you type out that nasty response or post that terrible thing about someone, ask yourself honestly: Would you say this to their face? Would you say it in front of your mother, or grandfather, or children? Are you breaking someone’s confidence? Is what you’re about to say harming or likely to harm someone’s well-being? How would it make you feel if someone wrote or said that about you? Would it hurt? Is that who you want to be today? What to do if you are Cyber Bullied
If you or someone you know is a victim of cyberbullying, here is my advice: Keep records of everything. Emails, screenshots of posts or messages that could be deleted. The more evidence you can present, the stronger your case will be. Complain to the relevant social media platform.Report it to the police.Consider legal action. If you can afford it, find a lawyer early on. Depending on the offender, s/he may be able to stop it early with a sternly worded letter. Find someone you can talk to: a therapist, a friend, a teacher. Absorbing that abuse will take its toll on your self-esteem and mental health, so seek support early. Be gentle with yourself and practice self-care. If you’re hearing too much negativity from outside, don’t add to that by beating yourself up. Do things that make you happy, spend time with people who love and support you, don’t let yourself withdraw or spend time rehashing regrets. For more information on the Intimate Images and Cyber-Protection Act, visit -
or contact an experienced litigation lawyer.