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Social media harassment: The defamation of RUSHTUSH

I am no newbie when it comes to being accessible online. Yes, in the last 2-3 and more recent years things have really escalated in terms of active users on social media. With everyone using social media to express themselves, amongst all of the feelings there will always be negative opinions, judgment and evil hate. I have never had a problem with this because I know how the world works. You can’t accept all the good coming your way, and not expect evil to be directed at you. You take the bad with the good. That’s the math. People often ask me how I deal? Very easily actually, ever since I’ve been on my fitness and health journey, which started ten years ago, I was more focused on myself than ever, even though I have always been thick skinned, driven and I always fought for what is true and what I believe in, I have always been proudly fierce and strong. Don’t misunderstand me and think that what I’m saying is that I have an ego or that I am not open to learning or to being taught or listening. I am always open to evolving. What I’m talking about is that I’ve always been proud to be real, honest and normal. I have a real body, I have real obstacles and regular challenges. Since day 1 on Facebook I have shared my journey and my struggles. My discovery, my physical and mental evolution was witnessed by so many. And I was real. Living in my body, growing and evolving. Working with bodies for so long has brought me to a place where I am absolutely and completely comfortable with the female body. I understand for some their own naked body makes them feel awkward. Body parts being taboo. Exposing and sharing parts and pictures trigger uncomfortable feelings. Perhaps something you were told as a kid? Maybe you were raised feeling ashamed of your body? For whatever reason, people feel triggered by body parts, whether it is sexual, or angry, or uncomfortable. Those are your feelings regarding your anatomy. I get that some people feel shook. But I don’t. Lol. For me bodies are bodies. They’re beautiful, they’re fascinating, they’re strong, they grow life, they make life possible. Bodies don’t only house organs and digest food, they house trauma, memories, energies and feelings. Bodies breed disease and bodies can weaken just because of hate. Our bodies are so, so much more than just sexual objects. I know not everyone is at this point in their lives where they understand this. I don’t expect anyone else too agree with me either. What you see in me is just a reflection of what you wish to see in yourself. The feelings that arise when you look at a post that angers you, is something you need to address within yourself. And that’s fine. I’m on the other side, still as focused as I was ten years ago. I’m not giving up. I am living my dream life. And part of me living my dream life means that I am not triggered by what you post about your body. It’s ironic, because assisting in the transformation of thousands of women’s bodies is my job. Lol. I will still never, bash, judge, and critique or call out a female on their life choices. Many people are questionable, yes. And I’m here for the laughs, the good times and the inspiration. I mean I’ve been here since day one, offering advice to those who need, motivation for those who seek, and entertainment for those who like to laugh, at themselves, like I do! What I’m not here for is disrespect, rudeness, bashing, and this new thing now where people gang up like mobs because they feel they need to disagree with someone else online and take action. It’s totally fine to disagree, dislike someone even, hate them, if you want. Cool. Go ahead. Have coffee dates and talk about the people you hate and why you hate the fact they do this and do that. You can hate people your whole life in your private life for not being who you want them to be but once you click ‘post’ and publish your statements, views and negative opinions, you best believe you will get my attention and that of my lawyers.

My goal was never ever to be on the tips of people tongues. Chatting about social media to a friend, I said ‘online’ is my life. Women need solutions to their health and fitness problems. When they go to bed at night and the last thing they think about is how am I going to make that change? I want them to wake up and know – Rushtush has the solution. She can guide me. And I do, I can. Just by following my life online, you can pick up on good habits. Maybe you’re insecure about running with your big bust, or you’re shy about your height and curves, cellulite, rolls or whatever. I’m here to demonstrate, that its normal, to be normal. My platform is to uplift, even if it’s a small part of you. That small part needs encouragement. If she’s brave, I can be brave too. It has nothing to do with taking your clothes off.

I have so many women come train under me over the years, with so many hang ups. Even in an all ladies gym. Enclosed and safe. We still feel like we should hide. Hide our sweaty hair, hide our scars, our stubble, our rolls when we sit down. Why? Why can’t we be comfortable in proudly owning who we are? Because of what people will say? What will they think I’m thinking of myself when I post this? Who the fuck cares. I am working on me, for me, not for you, not for your validation, not for your Likes and Comments. Be it negative or positive. If you’re living for online approval, you need to reassess your intention on the internet.

Through the years I have become an ‘influencer,’ an occupational hazard I guess. But before I influence you to go lift some weights and drink a green juice, remember, I am a businesswoman first. I teach from my ladies only studio / gym in the CBD in Cape Town. This month marks Glow Women’s Physiques 5th birthday! I have my successful online coaching business that has been live for 4 years. I run online challenges, I host events and workshops of my own and am often asked to be a guest/motivational speaker and train at other events. I chat on radio and have had my fair share of magazine and television interviews, I also write fitness articles for the paper from time to time. I’ve worked hard to be in the back of women’s minds at the moment they’re ready to elevate their lives. MY BRAND IS MY BUSINESS. I am so hectic about endorsing anything. You will never see me hopping from one product to the next or jumping on bandwagons because they’re trendy. I am true to what works but also very open to being resourceful. I am a modern mommy and a female. Everything I share and am, I have always been transparent about. My Glow Girls know, I would never throw or push anything onto them. For me, just because I have the power to influence something, doesn’t mean I am willing to do so. My priority has been my brand and I protect it at all cost.

Often people think, “oh because you’re a brand, you’re online, an influencer, in the paper and successful”, people WILL hate. Deal with it. They’re just haters. Rise above it. Yes, we covered private hate. But today, people need to know that they will be held accountable for their published statements online. This isn’t about my ego. It’s about my business. I don’t care if you don’t like me. But don’t start dragging my business, questioning me as a mother. Attacking what I stand for just because you find yourself uncomfortable with human anatomy. Or for whatever reason you want to spew hate. We will never know.

EMAIL
Sometime into this year I decided to stop sharing any negativity I received. After one horrific incident where I was receiving evil emails about an alleged tummy tuck post pregnancy, I got lawyers involved who tracked down the company whose email account was sending me these crazy emails. Upon sharing my experience, I received so many supportive messages from people, like I always do. But this time some people were saying, things like “even if you had a tummy tuck… we still love you”. The damage had been done. Someone’s hurtful false claims had already planted the seed of doubt in minds. It risks everything. All the hard work I put into my pregnancy, every single salad and green juice I drank, every session I made it to the gym, the pool, even to endermologie to ensure my skin was ready, was all questioned. I worked fucking hard. Post partum C-section I was in the gym, tummy wrapped, 10 days after my operation. I am an example of how being physically prepared for whatever may come your way during pregnancy and post birth, will result in a strong, healthy recovery. To receive emails putting it all at jeopardy was unacceptable. It was so ugly I won’t share any of them here. Eventually, I got my lawyers at Dingley Marshall Inc involved to trace the company’s owners and send out a letter of demand to refrain from harassment.

INSTAGRAM
There is this account on Instagram where memes are being made of ‘influencers.’ Yeah it was funny and silly at first, until accusations and disrespectful commentary came into play. At one instance I was targeted, gaining the account some clout. The account and its posts became a platform of hate. So instead of chilling around the pool or dinner table exchanging verbal irritation, people became very comfortable with expressing their annoyance and hate for people in these posts. Damaging things were being said about my body and my marriage. I don’t tolerate bullying of any kind. I have had enough, and my lawyer drafted up a letter of demand of copyright infringement and defamation, we would lay charges if they didn’t take everything published of me down. They did so immediately.

Facebook and Instagram
I have had many fake Insta accounts comment trash on my photos. In this one instance, this girl (not fake) would comment things like “how come you show us your bum but you cant show your sons face?” on my photos. I laugh it off. I have a great sense of humor. If someone is taking the time out of their day to type a negative comment and click post, surely you are entertained? Until it got more intense, I received screenshots of posts of mine that have been shared and then captioned with trashing negative statements or screenshotted and reposted, I can’t recall the finer detaisl. Posted by the same person, a lady. I say lady because she’s an adult, a mommy too. It’s not a fake account. It’s not someone hiding behind another account or someone using a company’s email. I continued to receive more screenshots from various people showing me the hectic comments, and the clout gained, by influx of friends commenting on pictures of me she has reposted to her social media accounts. Her saying I’m the devil, I’m disgusting, I’m a rude person, I’m fake because I go for all those body treatments and stuff, also my face and stuff, I’m trash. Calling me a bad mother. On and on. What also obviously happened was negative commentary. So, people jumped on the bandwagon and it created another opportunity to openly hate me. People were commenting on my marriage, my husband. It got really ugly. She then posted long statuses about how she doesn’t hate me and how people need to go tell me ‘she doesn’t hate me she just thinks I’m gross and I’m just trying to sell my glow cleanse kak.’ This is all while I’m trying to make it through my session at the gym. This woman is publishing these comments on her Insta stories and on her open Facebook profile. Published on a working day, from her office desk, at her job. I get messages from friends and acquaintances, and people I don’t even know, reaching out, even on Twitter, saying this isn’t the first time she has bashed me, my brand, my business, my work. All this while I didn’t share any of the negative comments on any of my social media platforms. So how did people know what she was posting? It was already circulating. Her publishing these statements caused financial damage to my online business and my brand. It created doubt and questions. It detracted from what I do for women, for people, for their health, their marriages and their lives. People shifted their focus onto other parts of me. They talked about my personal life. My personal life isn’t up for sale. As a mother, it’s my job to protect my son and to provide for him. People should be asking for tips about making time in the day as a busy parent to work out, cook healthy meals and how to be fit for their kids? How do I get post-partum fit? People should be rushing to the gym to open a membership because they’re inspired to make that change. These are the things and the conversations that should be happening, but because of her posts, people are questioning my ability as a parent and wondering about my marriage. They’re questioning my integrity and my intentions. They also now feel that because things have been published, it is okay to also trash me. It implies I’m meek and shy and that I can be bullied. I am anything but that. I’m not going to brush it off. I’m going to stand up for myself and take action. So, I did.

My attorney sent her a letter of demand asking her to remove all posts and apologize to me publicly because she was harassing me and defaming me. She sent back a very rude reply saying how convenient that my attorney is also one of my friends (how irrelevant) and some other stuff. Leaving all the nasty posts up, public and still published. I was then advised to apply for a protection against harassment order from the court. My lawyers drafted the paperwork and sent the sheriff of the court to her place of work delivering the application and informing her to appear in court. We appeared in court twice. The first time we appeared, all the negative posts were still on her social media page. At that point, she was happy to apologize to me face to face and have me obtain the protection order, but she refused to apologize publicly. She then continued to talk about court on Facebook, this time not mentioning my name but instead painting herself as a victim, as if I had come forward to drag her. When all I wanted was for her to stop, for her to remove everything and apologize publicly. It is only fair that if she trashed me publicly, that she should apologize in the same way. Which even after our second court appearance, she still refused to do. All the while all of this is costing me money. Back and forth to court, lawyer’s fees. Time away from my son, my work. I would think a working mother would understand this.

Finally, her lawyer called a meeting where we would try and settle the matter. I am not to expose her, and she needs to publicly apologize so we can both move forward. She doesn’t get to talk about me, publish anything about me or contact me going forward. She sat across the table from me now three times. I’ve never ever met her or seen her in my entire life, until that first day in court. The way she looked at me was pure hatred, also confusion and frustration, like why am I doing this to her? I could see in her eyes all she wanted to do was hurt someone. I have no idea why I was that someone. She felt like I was trying to make an example of her. She said her comments were ‘in the spur of the moment’ and she didn’t mean for all of this to happen. Here I’m sitting, wishing none of this had to happen and that if people are triggered they should rather click unfollow. There are so many ways one can mind their own business, instead of compromising someone else’s business. My bread and butter. I will most definitely take action and protect my brand. I will do it again and again. I did it for all those times, I shut up, laughed it off, rose above it. Bashing and bullying is not okay. Hate in your private life, fine. But when you post online, it is there forever. Remember that you shouldn’t post yourself out of future jobs and opportunities. If you want to hurt someone and you have evil and hate inside of you for whatever reason, it’s safer to just find an alternative way to express yourself. Pray, have a nap, go for a run, do some yoga, drink a green juice, the options are endless before you click ‘post.’

Love Rushda
Mommy and fighter xoxo

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