Bullying is an epidemic that is close to my heart.
It is more commonplace than most people would care to address. It does not stop in the schoolyard.
In my experience, people do not grow out of it, and (dare I say) just as with domestic violence, it takes a village to acknowledge it and address it.
Whilst some bullying tactics may be obvious, there are others that eat away at the victim.
Silent bullying or being “frozen out” is truly the worst. It can make victims feel isolated, unsupported, confused, anxious, depressed, and it can impact their self-esteem.
When victims are being frozen out, they don’t fully understand what is going on. There is no proof, no evidence, nothing specific that someone has said or done. But there is a feeling and a collection of events and jabs that pile up and, slowly but surely, impact the victim.
Usually, we don’t reach out for help or support until we have reached the end of our rope and feel hopeless about the situation changing.
Here are three things to do if you think you’re being bullied:
1. Stop trying to “understand” the bully.
It is normal to try and understand why someone may be treating you poorly. It may be a survival mechanism to avoid accepting the situation as it is so hurtful.
Unless communication lines are open and respectable (which is unlikely with a bully), you will be making assumptions to try and survive the situation. Sometimes assumptions are not helpful.
Keep the focus on yourself, your mental health, and your well-being. Your self-love is more important than ever during times that you are feeling vulnerable. Make a conscious effort to give yourself the self-care that you deserve.
2. Confide in someone who you trust.
This could be a manager, a colleague, your partner, friend, family member, therapist, anyone that you trust and feel safe opening up to.
There is no doubt that if you are being bullied, you have already tried to convey this to the bully in some way. It could be blinking back tears, openly stating that you’re feeling unsupported and isolated, or using your silence to convey a message.
Having tried what you can, it may be time to let some of the pressure off your chest and share it with someone that you trust.
3. Remember your strengths.
Maybe you have been bullied before or maybe it is your first time. I believe that the feeling of being bullied can be likened to those of hurt, loneliness, isolation, and upset that we have experienced in other aspects of our lives. You got through it. You will get through this too. It is absolutely not permanent. Remember your strengths and draw on your resilience. Allow this experience to be “an experience” and take away from it what you can and leave the rest on the floor.
I wish more than anything that we could eradicate bullying from schoolyards, families, workplaces, friendships, and all other places that it exists. However, I know that my wish is unlikely to be granted.
The best we can do for now is to preserve ourselves with the love and care that we all deserve.
If you have been bullied, I am sorry. I am sorry you went through that. You did not deserve it. It was not your fault.
If you are comfortable, please share your story and how you overcame the experience. I am cheering for your bravery. In my eyes, you are strong, resilient, and loved.