staying away from a toxic forum
January 10, 2012 10:15 AM Subscribe
How do I stop myself from crawling back to this toxic forum where I keep getting verbally abused?
posted by timsneezed to human relations (49 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
There is another relationship advice forum I often frequent and have for a few years. But the atmosphere there is entirely different. While Askmefi is generally civil and rational, this forum can be toxic because the moderation is so poor. There a number of wonderful, insightful posters, but also a handful of vicious bullies who have been around for a long time.
In my early twenties (I'm 28 now) I started posting about my relationships on this board. A few female posters noticed I had some dysfunctional patterns in relationships: being a doormat, acting impulsively, letting relationships drag out that were unhealthy. I also cheated on one boyfriend years ago when I was in a bad place, and they never let me live it down even though I was very remorseful and I never cheated on anyone again. These posters started stalking my threads and attacking me. I have to stress that their attacks went way beyond criticizing my behavior in relationships, which WAS unhealthy -- to putting down my character and picking on all of my insecurities. Unfortunately I was very revealing about my vulnerabilities, so that gave them plenty of ammunition.
They put down everything about me -- my personality (one called me an ugly person inside and out and I have been called crazy more times than I can count), my looks despite knowing I'd been suffering with body dysmorphia for years, my intelligence.
One of the women claims she acted in similar ways to me in her twenties and now is entirely "reformed," and she seems to be on some personal crusade to put people like me down...as if to prove to herself that she's no longer like us.
For some masochistic reason I keep coming back. I think it's because the relationship with these bullies entirely mirrors a traumatic three year bullying episode that happened when I was 10-13 that I've never entirely gotten over. The bullies in that case were also all girls. It's almost as if I'm trying to "fix" what happened then.
What gets to me most about the bullying is that nobody stops it, which is why it reminds me so much of that episode when I was a kid. The problem is the posters are so entrenched in the forum that nobody wants to stand up to them, including the moderators. They are also highly manipulative, will butter up other posters and then target a couple of members with low self esteem under the guise of "tough love." They are intelligent enough to sound rational and confident and defend themselves well, so it takes new members awhile to pick up on their antics. Like cops they all defend each other, but newer posters often don't pick up on the hidden alliances so they think they all independently agree with each other which often swings the tide of opinion in their favor if that makes any sense.
The more I defend myself or point out their behavior, the worse it gets.
I think I keep coming back because I want other people to acknowledge their behavior. Somehow without that acknowledgment, it feels like my reality is being invalidated. It reminds me of when I was a kid and my best friend refused to defend me or even acknowledge that it was happening, or how a sadistic teacher got me in trouble when the bullies were picking on me in class and pretended I was provoking them. I still have nightmares about this stuff.
I also wonder why it is that I attract bullies. It makes me feel like there is something wrong with me, and maybe that's part of why I keep going back...to figure that out.
Any advice on how to pull myself away from this forum for good or insight on why I keep attracting people like this in my life and how to brush them off in the future when they attack me?