I discovered a few days ago that this month is National Bullying Awareness Prevention Month, so it seemed fitting to write a blog and shed some awareness on this issue.
Bullying is not just something that occurs in school, because even adults can be bullies. One of the words we use for an adult who bullies is a narcissist. Bullying can be a controversial topic because everyone has their own opinions. I am just sharing this based on my own experiences to bring awareness.
I remember when I was in school, we had something called D.A.R.E. A police officer would come and speak to us about things such as avoiding drugs and the dangers of peer pressure. What happened to those programs?
Anyways, abuse in any form is NOT okay. Human life is precious. No one should ever feel so worthless that they end up committing suicide. No one should feel scared to be themselves. No one should feel obligated to conform to the demands of another. We have free will and should be able to exercise that free will freely. Isn't that what the Constitution protects? Our rights? I don't mean this in a way that promotes rebellion at all. Because there are always consequences whether good or bad to the choices we make, and we have laws that are meant to promote peace. But when someone is hindered from having that ability to make their own choices by someone who abuses their authority, it squeezes the life out of that person and prevents them from being able to grow.
Bullying is such a huge problem and has such devastating effects. It can ruin a person's life. I think that many have somehow become desensitized to it. I know that as I became awakened, coming to the understanding of how destructive it can be, my natural response was to become angry, but it was an unhealthy anger. It made me so angry anytime I saw someone degrading another person. I had a vendetta against anyone I came across who bullied another person. Because I had my own trauma due to being bullied. Because my daughter committed suicide due to bullying. I felt justified in my anger and I began to lash out, but I was only hurting myself. Besides, how was that making me any better?
How can bullying be addressed and dealt with effectively? Awareness can help us take an active stance against bullying and abuse and can provide us with the tools to make better choices. Recognizing the tactics can protect us from falling into that snare of bondage and control.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A BULLY?
To bully means "to seek to harm, intimidate, or coerce" (Oxford Languages). A bully seeks to intimidate and gain control over another person, especially those who are vulnerable. You will always find a bully who picks on someone smaller than them or someone they can exert authority over in an oppressive manner.
TACTICS OF A BULLY
One of the tactics a bully will use is gas-lighting. Gas-lighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which the abuser works to sow self-doubt in the mind of the victim. This is meant to keep the victim in a state of insecurity and fear. It is an attempt to distort reality, by causing the victim to feel isolated, helpless, and alone so that they can gain power and control over the victim.
Another tactic a bully will use is projection manipulation. This is an attempt of the abuser to place the blame of their negative behavior on to the victim. They attempt to make the victim feel like they are at fault for how they are treating the victim. This keeps the victim stuck in shame.
A bully wants to keep their victim socially isolated. They will attempt to cause them to feel socially inferior by attacking their confidence so that they can hold a sense of superiority over them.
They will attempt to cause the victim to feel ashamed or weak for seeking support. When a bully sees someone has support, they will always back down. Never be afraid to ask for help.
At the root, a bully is someone who is very insecure and needs healing. As the saying goes, "hurt people hurt people," and the best thing to do is separate ourselves from the individual.
WHAT ARE SOME TIPS TO GUARD OURSELVES?
Before reading further, if you are in a situation where following any of these suggestions will put you at greater risk, then please do not put yourself in a position that will cause you harm. Reach out to someone, preferably your local law enforcement for help.
1. Don't respond out of anger
Responding with anger in the face of abuse only creates a bigger problem because the abuser will only respond offensively. In the end, nothing is accomplished. When anger is in the mix, it creates the perfect storm. It becomes a storm of words, full of finger pointing and cutting each other down as we search for anything we can use to wound the other person. It can even lead to violence.
When we become angry to the point that we lose control or our sense of peace, it begins to cloud our judgement. It becomes counter-productive because instead of solving the issue, we wind up even more wounded and feeling lost. It leaves us worse off than before. The best thing to do is walk away when feeling out of control. It's okay to feel angry, but if we allow anger to control us, it may lead us to say or do something we might regret.
Words have power. We speak and use words to transfer information to each other, to provide wisdom and guidance, to teach, to correct, to lift up, and to encourage. Words can also be used to deceive, to flatter, to lie, to criticize, to manipulate, and to intimidate. Our words can wound, or they can comfort and heal. They can build up or tear down. Choose them wisely.
2. Speak to someone you can trust
Having a healthy support system can make a world of difference. However, it's important that you speak to someone you can trust to provide you with support and the right guidance. If you don't have a healthy support system, try reaching out to a helpline. Sometimes we just need to talk to someone who will listen.
Talking to someone you can trust can provide clarity.
3. Don't enable the abuse
Victims will unknowingly enable abuse by simply accepting it. Allowing it to continue is enabling the abuser. It reinforces their negative behavior and gives them permission to continue the abuse. Many times, out of fear, the abuser is placated to "keep the peace" and avoid confrontation.
Someone who has been abused may feel tempted to justify the abusive behavior of the other person. They minimize the behavior of the abuser because it has become normal to them. They may have been led to believe that it is acceptable or that they somehow deserve it. But there is nothing normal or okay about abuse whatsoever.
Establish limits and consequences if those limits are passed. That consequence can be leaving the home, having them leave, or even filing a police report if need be. It is not in their best interest to protect them from the consequences of their behavior by doing nothing and allowing it to continue.
One recommendation is not to use "empty threats" against them to try and get them to change. Because they won't. It only reinforces their behavior and it may even get worse over time because those threats were never followed through, and that sense of control will grow as the fear of repercussions lessens.
Don't support the dysfunction of abuse. Don't be scared to walk away. The fear of the unknown will keep us stuck in the cycle of unhappiness. We carry a strength within us that gets us through. Sometimes, we have to take that leap of faith that takes us away from the old and into the new.
4. Establish and Maintain Healthy Boundaries
Establishing those healthy boundaries is important. Many times, victims have never learned how to establish healthy boundaries leaving them vulnerable to those who will seek to gain advantage over them.
The word "No" is one of the most powerful boundary forming words.
5. You don't need to feel guilty
Sometimes we are afraid of setting boundaries because we feel guilty of hurting their feelings. We don't want them to become angry at us or dislike us. But when we value and guard our boundaries, we are better able to value others and their boundaries, too. It protects not only our peace, but our sense of self. Remain consistent in keeping those boundaries.
Healthy boundaries establish the limits of what you will or will not accept or tolerate. Boundaries are essential to having healthy relationships. They protect us from being hurt and taken advantage of.
I hope this was somewhat helpful! Please feel free to comment or message me. I also listed some National resources below.
Please note: The purpose of this blog is to promote awareness of a serious issue. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a condition or treatment, and never disregard professional medical or law advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site. If you feel that you are in danger, please call 911.