It is anti-bullying week next week, but I raise awareness all of the time, 365 days a year. But why? The reason is because it's so important to me. I used to say that I'm a victim of bullying, but now I say that I am a warrior, because I've been through so much and come out of it the other end.
For some people though, it's way too late. I've read so many articles and heard of so many stories were people with Autism, and other types of conditions, have taken their own lives because of bullying, whether it's in school, college, or even on the internet and social media. They do so because they can't cope with the bullying.
So much more needs to be done including the implementation of stronger hate crime laws. That's what I've been campaigning for during the last few years, and will continue to do. I've spoken in Parliament a few times about bullying and hate crime. Stronger and tougher laws are needed to protect the most vulnerable within our society.
If I can stop one person from taking their life, then I know that I've done something right. People with autism and any other condition for that matter, have enough to deal with every day of their lives.
Anti-bullying week only raises awareness for victims/survivors for one week. But for me it's a daily thing, enduring the venomous trolls, the impersonation and even the haters on social media.
People with Autism get bullied quite often, and sometimes this can be classified as a Hate Crime if it's targeted at their disability, or even Mate Crime, which we don't hear about that often, but sadly it's becoming more known.
I am 41 years old now and I've endured bullying from childhood; in the school playground to junior school all the way through to high school. Now I am having to endure bullying online, were I'm targeted by trolls. The best advice I can give to people who face bullying online, is to starve the trolls of oxygen, do not feed them. Block, mute, ignore is the only way. If it gets really serious, then report it to the police. Sadly for me, it has been going on for over three years and the police still can't trace or jail the offenders, which you would think in this digital technology age, they could do. The trolls I can deal with, but it's the impersonation and the twitter cloning that is the worst. It is identity theft and there's nothing you can do about it, and sometimes it can still take weeks for twitter to suspend the offender's account. I'm pleased to say though that social media sites like Facebook, Myeye and Google have verified my accounts, but twitter still haven't done so.
For children or younger teenagers who are being bullied, keep a record of the events, a dairy, and ensure you speak to your parents or relatives about it. Make sure that someone knows, even a teacher or a friend at school. Don't face bullying alone, because this can be very isolating.
At least some good has come out of my situation. I made a documentary on the subject cyberbullying, which was screened in Stoke on Trent and London. If it saves one person's life, at least I know that I've done something right. Too many young people are taking their own lives through online cyberbullying.
I really fear for those who are on the spectrum and who start to use social media for the first time, because if they are bullied, the consequences can be devastating.