Caught up in the heat of the moment, many of us have hastily fired off a letter (remember those!), or an e-mail, giving some poor soul both barrels – suddenly cutting them to the emotional quick. And, in turn, some of us have been on the receiving end of such an attack. But what if it becomes a habit? What if, as the aggressor, a pattern develops: you use mobile phone messaging to attack others persistently?
Most serial mobile phone abusers are alcoholics – their addiction is a primary underlying factor in shaping and driving their bullying behaviour.
For over three years, Julianne – a trainee estate agent in West Sussex – suffered an unrelenting campaign of mobile phone abuse from none other than her own brother, Ranulph, in Berkshire. So, why didn’t she simply change her phone number?
“That is a question I was frequently asked,“ Julianne explains. “I kept my number because I didn’t see why on earth I should have to make any changes to my life at all, due to someone else’s vindictive crusade. I was the victim. The person responsible for making changes was Ranulph.”
“It reached a point where I dreaded switching my phone on or checking my e-mail inbox in the mornings, for fear of what was waiting there for me,” Julianne continues. “I mean, Ranulph sent as many as 10 abusive texts to me during the night, several nights of the week. I tried to block him, but he always found a way to get the messages through. It was only when West Sussex Police got involved that he finally stopped. The underlying reason he gave for his appalling behaviour was alcoholism. He blamed his excessive drinking, after being given a caution by the police.”
So, Ranulph’s addiction was behind his atrocious conduct. The more he drank, the more texts he sent; and the more insulting those messages became.
Let’s let Ranulph take up the story from here
“I feel thoroughly ashamed of the way I acted – what I put my sister through. Amazingly, she offered to cover the cost of rehab treatment if I would agree to go. I did so, and now I don’t drink at all. I’ll always be eternally grateful to Julianne for basically saving my life in the way she did. If she hadn’t paid for my treatment, I’d probably be in prison now. I’d started sending abusive texts and e-mails to a few other people [as well as Julianne], as my alcoholism worsened, you see. I would have landed in big trouble if my behaviour hadn’t finally been checked, if the police hadn’t got involved.”
A burgeoning problem
Despite new legislation being brought in to help stamp it out, mobile phone abuse continues to escalate across the UK towards epidemic proportions.
From the control they exert over their victim(s), text abusers can draw immense gratification – an empowered feeling that becomes addictive. When they text abusively it is often the only time in their lives that they feel any influence over others. Arrested perpetrators usually plead in court that their alcohol addition was fuelling their behaviour; and research into bullying by mobile phone (and other hand-held communication devices) bears this out. Surely the key to significantly reducing incidence of text abuse across the UK overall, therefore, is for the Government to more determinedly get at the root of the problem: widespread alcoholism?
All names have been changed