Some years ago, there was a young woman I would regularly see socially. We often chatted about how her family were going. We particularly chatted about her nephew. He was 3 and she was so proud of him. One time we met she mentioned he was getting bullied at day care. As someone who was abused and bullied as a child I was horrified that a 3 year old was getting bullied. Surely someone was doing something about that. Her response? Oh yes, he was being taught how to change his behaviour and fit in better so he wouldn’t be bullied! I was appalled. People are bullied/abused because of the other person’s issues, not because of anything they have done. To place the blame on the victim is like saying a murder victim was to blame for their murder. Or a rape victim was to blame for being raped. Or a child was to blame for an adult sexually abusing them.
For some reason, people cannot deal effectively with bullies. The thing that needed to be done in this situation was for the bully to be taken aside and treated. There were two things that bully needed.
The first, was to have good healthy boundaries set. The bully needed to know that behaviour was not acceptable behaviour. If you stop the behaviour when it first starts it is easier to stop. Once the behaviour has become full on bullying, it is harder to stop and harm has been caused to the victim.
The second thing that needed to be done was to find out why the bully was behaving this way. Bullies are often hurting. Listening to the bully, while setting firm boundaries, is the most effective way to understand and treat the underlying causes of the behaviour before it cases the bully serious damage. How much easier it is to identify problems and treat them at age 3 than at age 13, or 43.
I suspect people are frightened of dealing with bullies because of fears around their own childhood and their dealings with bullies. But adults are grown up now and can defend themselves. They have a duty to protect children from this behaviour.
A video that circulated a few years ago had adults acting child bullying in an adult setting. This behaviour in a child setting is dismissed as “just kids fooling around”. But the reaction to this video was one of horror that someone was subjected to this obvious assault. So why is it okay for children to be assaulted but not adults?
As adults we need to take a stand and be firm in how we deal with bullies. I am sure many of you had your bullying dismissed by adults as being nothing and something you were overreacting about and needed to get over. You may feel you do not have the power to deal with bullies. But you do.
I also know, because for a long time I suffered this too, that you are most likely ashamed of being bullied. Shame is a big issue for those who were bullied/abused as children. A child believes something is wrong with them for this to happen to them. Often that is reinforced by adults who tell you it is your fault.
So what are the 8 reasons you were bullied and or abused?
Those reasons are all about the bully/abuser and their issues. You were not/are not weak, a loser, stupid or not enough in any way.
Reason No. 1: The bully is a narcissist. This is a personality disorder that develops in childhood. The narcissist is self-absorbed, entitled, and needs admiration and attention. If you don’t do what they want then you are bullied.
Reason No. 2: the bully has poor emotional regulation. This bully does not know how to control their emotions. So when they are angry, or hurt, or embarrassed, or frightened (and so on) they use bullying/abuse to try to calm themselves down.
Reason No. 3: The bully has low self esteem. They don’t feel good about themselves. They feel shamed, inadequate, weak and powerless. They think that what they need to do to feel better is to “tear you down”. Of course you can never get power from other people. The only way to increase your power is to build it up yourself. But the bully doesn’t know how to do that.
Reason No. 4: The bully has a need for social approval. They think the way to get approval is to impress others with their dominance. Maybe they learned that from their family or observing other people. This is what they believe they need.
Reason No. 5: Modelling. The bully has copied the negative behaviour of a parent/sibling/peer group.
Reason No. 6: Lack of empathy. The bully has enough trouble understanding and processing their own emotions, let alone understanding and caring about yours. So they hurt you and don’t have the empathy to care that you are hurting.
Reason No. 7: Poor Impulse Control. The bully has trouble regulating their emotions. A person who can regulate their emotions will stop and think before responding to something. A bully will just react. There is no stopping and no thinking the bully just acts impulsively. Usually that acting is outwards to other people.
Reason No. 8: The bully is Selfish. This bully wants their own needs met. The cost of meeting their needs at the expense of others is not a consideration.
Many bullies may have more than one reason they bully.
The reason they picked on you? Because they could. Because you were the first person they encountered they thought they could safely pick on. No reason for that. You were just the person there when they wanted someone to bully.
If you still believe you were somehow to blame it is time to think about what you would say to someone you love, say your own child, if they were the victim of bullying. Would you say they were to blame? Would you tell them to “get over it”? Would you tell them they had to behave differently because their behaviour was why they were being bullied? Or would you show them compassion? Would you care? Would you hug them? Would you do something to help them?
Give yourself the same compassion you would give someone you love.
Bullying/abuse in childhood leaves wounds that need healing.
Many victims of childhood bullying/abuse lose trust in the world and in other people. And there are good reasons for that. After all, who supported you when you were suffering that way? It is quite likely the world seemed to turn their back on you.
If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your bullying/abuse related difficulties, please contact me on 0409396608 or email@example.com
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