How to Free Military Spouse Communities from Cyberbullying

by | Mar 2, 2020 | Blog

Before hitting the enter key, re-read your words and ask yourself how they might be received by others.

Before hitting the enter key, re-read your words and ask yourself how they might be received by others.

Have you ever had someone say something negative about you? The words you ingest and the words you put out into the world matter to your well-being and the well-being of military spouses in your physical and online communities. I have been on the receiving end of harsh words, and those words sting! In fact, I can recall stinging remarks clear back to my childhood, and many of them still affect me today.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” but sadly, that old adage just isn’t true. Hurtful and angry words can leave invisible wounds on the recipient’s heart that may take years to overcome.

Within the military spouse community, I have experienced an extraordinary sense of family. I’ve met military spouses with a willingness to go above and beyond for each other in times of need, and generosity that knows no limits. On the flip side, I’ve also experienced some of the most bitter and judgmental remarks that I’ve ever encountered, which has made me cautious in what I share about myself. Friends, this should not be!

Many of the hurtful remarks have come from online communities such as Facebook groups. It’s wonderful that we military spouses have this platform to use for building connections and to seek advice from others who have had similar experiences. However, as it was recently reported, these communities can also be a place where judgmental words are flung about with little concern for the harm these words inflict. When we are behind a screen with no one looking back at us, it becomes easy to use our keyboards to unleash anger, hurt, and frustration stemming from our own life circumstances upon another unsuspecting person that we might not ever say to someone standing in front of us. We don’t see the tears and shame on their faces from our careless remarks.

 Sometimes this is also unintentional. We comment on a post and the reader becomes hurt by something we said but that we meant in a totally different context. I’m guilty of this myself. I tend to be very down-to-earth and straight-to-the-point. When I am face-to-face with someone, they hear my tone of voice, see my body language, and can sense my sincere heart. These things don’t come through when people read my words, especially those who don’t know me personally.

How to free military spouse communities from cyberbullying and create safe spaces for each other

  1. Consider your words. When commenting, texting, or emailing, remember that the reader cannot see your body language or hear your tone of voice. Before hitting the enter key, re-read your words and ask yourself how they might be received by others. Edit where needed.

  2. Never respond in anger.  

  3. Place yourself in their shoes. Empathy is a vital relationship tool that seems to be missing in our online communities. Put yourself in the other person’s situation and work to understand how he or she might feel. Never judge another person, especially with limited knowledge of the situation. Most people are fighting a battle that we know nothing about. Always choose kindness.

  4. When you encounter someone who is being bullied, please stand up for them by offering encouragement and positive words. Then, reach out through a private message with compassion and empathy.

  5. Report cyberbullying to Facebook group admins so that they can handle the situation before it gets even further out of hand.

  6. If you are the admin of an online community

    1. Be clear in the group rules that you expect kind, respectful interactions and state the consequences for breaking the rules. Decide how many strikes you want to offer cyberbullies before they’re out. 

    2. Consistently monitor your groups.

    3. Handle cyberbullying situations in a positive manner. Reach out privately and offer your empathy to both parties. We never know what someone may be going through. Often cyberbullies have been bullied themselves and didn’t have a way to respond so they lash out by being a cyberbully. 

    4. If cyberbullying continues, remove the habitual offender from the group. Refuse to allow an atmosphere of negativity. 

We military spouses know what it feels like to cope with the extreme. We go through months of deployment, multiple PCSes, live away from family and friends, raise children with little support outside of our spouse. These are circumstances that the average civilian will never encounter. 

In a world full of hate and negativity, let’s lead the way and choose to support and care for each other to the extreme! Let’s #CultivateEmpathy and let it begin with us!

How to Free Military Spouse Communities from Cyberbullying

How to Free Military Spouse Communities from Cyberbullying


Crystal Niehoff

Crystal Niehoff

Crystal Niehoff is a content editor for InDependent. She is married to her best friend, Army Chaplain Kevin Niehoff and is the proud mom of five and grandma of three. She volunteers with InDependent as a content editor. She is the former owner and chief executive officer of Army Wife Network and host of Army Wife Talk Radio and AWN TableTalk. She holds degrees in Child Development and Business Administration, previously working in child welfare as a crisis specialist and family support worker and is certified to teach the Strengthening Families program. Additionally, Crystal holds certifications as a Christian Minister from Logos University and StillBirthday (SBD) Birth & Bereavement Doula® and Chaplain. Her e-book, Dads & Bereavement, may be obtained through


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