It's difficult to engage people in this unfair practice.
Sometimes their behavior is a public thrashing that makes you look bad no matter how you respond.
Sometimes their actions are sneaky but equally powerful and diabolical in their intent.
Their bullying behavior stems from their own fear or jealousy or an exaggerated sense of injustice that has nothing to do with you. They're most afraid of being called out.
If you wage war through social media or public confrontations, you'll be made to look foolish. (Think about some of the recent social media feuds you've seen. Ugly!)
We do not recommend retaliation. That will only make you look bad, and you run the risk that the instigator will gain sympathy from others.
In the end, truth and living a life of integrity are your best defenses.
In short, be honest and keep being you. Do that, and you've already won.
Here's another thought:
Approach the key player in the crowd that's turned against you.
*Tell them what you've seen or heard.
*Ask what they meant by it.
*Tell them very calmly the truth of the matter, or you could tell them that what they said or did was very hurtful.
*Forgive them, letting them know you're not going to allow their tactics to steal from your peace of mind.
*Walk away with dignity.
How willing are you to follow through with that suggestion?