Suing under a theory of defamation is hard, simply because you have to show you suffered some type of damage.
Not to say that a strongly worded demand letter placing them on notice won't do the trick.
Note: The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.
Law suits are very expensive (30K and up) and the reward is probably not worth it. Especially since you will need to show damages to recover an award.
You could have a lawyer write a Cease and Desist letter for you. While it has very little legal force, it would put the other party on notice you are not going to sit still for their nonsense.
You may want to discuss your situation with a lawyer in more detail. Most lawyers on Avvo, including myself, offer a free phone consultation.
Andrew M. Jaffe
Attorney at Law
Practice Limited to E-Commerce and Internet Law
This post is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice specific to you. This general information is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney in your jurisdiction. The attorney client relationship is not established by this post.
Defamation ("slander" if oral, "libel" if written) typically requires that someone publish a false statement of fact about you to a third party. "Ridiculous" things such as "Betsy is such an a**hole" are generally not actionable because Betsy is most likely not a literal a**hole. That is called rhetorical hyperbole, and the First Amendment protects such statements. If, however, your tormentors are saying factually inaccurate things, such as "Betsy stole a car last Friday," then you may have the beginning of a defamation case (presuming Betsy did not steal a car last Friday).
However, as the other attorneys have written, you need to show some damages. While some defamatory statements may come with a presumption of damage (i.e. if someone defames you with regard to your business), damages may be hard to prove if you are just talking about schoolyard name-calling.
You should also use Google to search for "Streisand effect."
(p.s. Avvo made me use asterisks for "objectionable content.")
No attorney-client relationship is anticipated or formed via any information I may provide in response to your question, nor should you solely rely on any information provided by me or others on this forum. Regardless of any help provided on Avvo.com, you should consult an attorney.
It sounds like you would be well-served by a written cease & desist letter to your former friend.
Andrew M. Bonderud, Esq. is an attorney The Bonderud Law Firm, P.A. He offers free consultations 24/7. You can reach him at 904-438-8082. Andrew's posting here is not to be considered legal advice nor does an attorney-client relationship exist.