Victims of Bullying: Why it’s So Important to Set Boundaries

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You must have the courage to love yourself, even when it angers the people around you. That means setting boundaries, being clear on what you will and will not tolerate.

During grade 6, my first year at Oakley* Schools, I lacked boundaries because I didn’t know how to enforce them. Without those limits, I gave away my friendship, time, energy and power to people who never deserved it and left nothing for myself. I was bending over backward to please others, treading lightly, being careful not to rock the boat, and make other people angry.

I had been conditioned to think that I wasn’t enough, and I should be anything other than myself. And I thought that being friendly, being accommodating, and being available would win me love and friendship.

It didn’t. It got me the exact opposite- walked over, bullied, and mistaken for a fool because the people I was overly friendly to never extended the same to me in return. Without meaning to, I gave the impression that I was desperate to fit in.

A year or so later, during the seventh grade, I began setting boundaries because I was tired of being a doormat. However, first impressions are powerful and it was too late. The power dynamic and others’ expectations of me had already been set. What I should’ve done was drew the line from day one.

In junior high, although my boundaries were clear, many others violated them every chance they got for no other reason than to demonstrate their power and show who was boss. Anytime I said ‘no’ to any of my classmates at school, I would face retaliation of some kind- guilt trips, threats, or physical beatings because they had grown too used to me being a pushover.

They were afraid that if I developed a spine, the benefits they were getting at my expense would stop. Therefore, the retaliation was their way of reinforcing their power and dominance and keeping me subdued.

But now that we’re all adults, let any of them try that today, and they will be very disappointed. Back then, I often wondered why nothing ever seemed to work out.

Understand that timing is everything. And that you do have power, but for it to work, you must know how to use it and you must stand up for yourself the very first time bullies come for you. Otherwise, your place in the pecking order will become iron clad and once that happens, you might as well not have any power at all.

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I didn’t realize it then, but during those early years in Oakley*, I was going about it all wrong. ‘You see? You must put yourself and your needs first. Never lower your standards or your boundaries! It’s okay to be kind, but never be nice!

The difference between kind and being nice is that kindness is genuine. People are kind because it’s the right thing to do, not because it can win friendships or favors. Also, kind people never give at their own expense.

Nice people, on the other hand, want friendship and approval. Also, people who are nice give at their own peril and stick their neck out for others to step on, thinking others will come around when they realize how much they care. “Nicies” are under the impression that the more you suffer, the more it shows you care. Um- Wrong!

It gives the impression that you’re a pushover, a kiss butt, a boot-licker! Being nice never awards you any respect because there’s usually an ulterior motive and the reason for your niceness is to avoid conflict! Being kind, on the other hand, is genuine and others can sense the genuineness. Being kind is much more respectful. Being ‘nice’ is for wimps.

Understand that anytime you set boundaries, there will always be those who will hate you for it and retaliate. And they will fight you for a while to wear you down. That’s what bullies do!

However, stick to your guns. Keep fighting for your right to be treated with respect. Show them that you will stand up to them no matter what they do, and eventually, they’ll get tired and realize that you aren’t worth the effort. They’ll go find an easier target.

So, always set limits and be prepared to fight to protect them. Be kind, yes! But if people start taking your kindness for being a fool and treating you like crap, don’t be afraid to tell these people to kiss off!

Being kind to others means being kind to yourself first.

*Not the real name of the town

Why Former Bullies Always Deny the Abuse They Inflicted

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Man scolding himself in a mirror, his reflection feeling guilty

It’s because they feel dirty. That’s right! Any time bullies and abusers must face the reality of any past abuse they may have inflicted on someone else, deep down inside, though they would never admit it to themselves much less you or anyone else, they feel like a piece of scum. And in order to not feel dirty, they must live in denial of what they did. It’s the only way they can bury their sins and still feel good about themselves.

My former classmates who bullied me, are no different. Denial is a useful psychological defense, and it does have benefits.

Many bullies deny their abuse because of their hatred for the victim, and they wish to reduce sympathy and support for the victim. They will claim that the violence a victim speaks of is either invented or exaggerated to either get attention or to make others feel sorry for him/her.

Sometimes, even bystanders and witnesses will side with the bullies and deny the abuse to keep from being bullied themselves or because they too have a secret hatred for the victim. Bystanders and witnesses may also want the bullying of the victim to continue for entertainment purposes. Believe it or not, many witnesses to the abuse enjoy seeing the victim get bullied because, to them, it is a source of entertainment and makes them feel superior to somebody.

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Also, bystanders may feel dirty as well because they know they didn’t speak out for the victim when they should have, or the bullying may be something they would like to have done to the victim themselves but didn’t have the guts.

Understand that the psyches and egos of humans are very fragile, even those of bullies. So, any time your abuser denies any abuse they know they dished out to you in the past, you don’t have to feel angry or insulted. You don’t have to try and force them to fess up. Because just knowing why they deny it and the nastiness they feel inside when they see you should be enough satisfaction.

So, if you’re a survivor of bullying and anytime you’re out shopping, and see one of the people who bullied you in the past; and you immediately notice how they turn and walk away or avoid looking at you. Know why they do that and feel good about it.

I can tell you that most of my classmates can’t face me today. They cannot bear to look at me because they know what they did, and they feel so dirty. I am a reminder of what they never want to see in themselves, and I always provoke feelings of shame in them. Therefore, I can’t get angry at them, nor feel insulted. There’s no need for revenge, nor to hate them because, in the end, they are the ones who must live with what they did.

Always remember that!

One of My Former Bullies Asked Me Out…And I Stood Him Up!

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Today, I would have just told him “No” and let that be the end of it. The year was 1997 and I was 26 years old and seven years post high school when I ran into a guy who had harassed me mercilessly during high school. During that time I was lead singer of a band and we were doing a show at a nightclub in Memphis. It was during a fifteen-minute break between sets that I ran into him and I’ll have to admit, he was very charming, displaying the very charm which had allowed him to go undetected and escape accountability all those years ago.

I was cordial to him as I’d been to everyone who had come to watch the band. However, when he asked me out, instead of feeling honored, I felt quite insulted. My first thoughts were:

“You’ve got some nerve, buddy!”

“Do you not remember all the times during school you helped make me feel completely worthless?”

“Do you not remember all the horrible names you called me? All the taunts? The jokes?”

“What make’s you think that I’d be even REMOTELY interested?”

Honestly, I would’ve had to be either stupid or desperate to go on a date with the likes of him and I believed his reasoning for it was one of either three things:

1. It was much safer for him to take me out now that we were out of school and he no longer had to face the old high school clique on a daily basis.

2. He thought I was desperate.

3. He thought I was easy.

This only made me angrier. Then I smiled and said, “Let’s talk about it after the show.”

After the show ended, we talked and I agreed to go on a date with him the following weekend. We agreed to meet at a restaurant in a neighboring town. Only I never showed up.

When he called me the next day and wanted to know why I had stood him up, informing me that he’d waited for over an hour, my response was,

“You don’t know? You don’t remember all the times you made me feel so bad about myself during school? You don’t remember all the horrible names you called me? You don’t remember all the times you joined everyone else in humiliating me during school? You knew I was hurting and you didn’t give a damn! You knew I was dying inside and you didn’t care! Well, how does it feel, buster?” I shouted.

He apologized profusely, over and over again. But at that time, I just wasn’t ready to forgive him.

It was a rotten thing to do to someone, I know. However, at that time, I wasn’t as mature as I am now and I just had to make a point.

It took a while but things worked out in the end. I eventually forgave him and we became close friends.

Sometimes You Must Do Some Healing Before You’re Able to Forgive

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I understand because I’ve been there. It took me several years to forgive my classmates. It was why I didn’t go to the ten or twenty-year class reunion. I had no desire to see their faces. I was just damn glad they were out of my life and had forgotten about ninety-nine percent of them.

As long as I stayed away from my former schoolmates and they stayed away from me, I was happy. But when I’d see one of them on the street, I’d turn and walk away without giving them so much as a “hi” or “kiss my ass.”

During the first twenty years after leaving Oakley High School, I only had something to do with maybe one or two of my classmates. The rest of them, I could’ve cared less if they dropped off the face of the earth.

When you’ve been a target of bullies, it’s only natural to feel anger, resentment, and disgust toward the bullies for a while. To heal, we must allow ourselves to feel the pain and raw emotions.

Never bury the pain. Never keep it stuffed down inside because you’re afraid to make anyone angry or uncomfortable. Because it will only fester if you do. You will internalize everything you’ve been through, which is the worst thing you can do because it will come out sooner or later in either very destructive rage or physical illness, such as a heart attack or stroke.

Take your time and feel your emotions as long as you need to. Just don’t stay in that dark place for long. Don’t set up your tent and live there!

Be open about your anger and talk to a friend, family member, or therapist. Tell them you’re pissed. Speak out about the abuse. But get it out! And realize there will be people who won’t like it.

Understand that, in this world, there are people who won’t mind wiping their feet all over you but will be greatly offended when you become angry about it and talk about it, or worse, tell them a thing or two!

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There will be people who expect you to be okay with something they know good and well they wouldn’t be okay with if it were done to them. But tell those people to get lost because they don’t matter. What matters is that you care for yourself and put yourself first.

Why should you give a ticker’s damn about their feelings? They never gave a damn about yours. So, never let those ignoramuses make you feel guilty for speaking out and responding in kind!

Tell them how you feel and let it out. But do it constructively. Put some bass in your voice. Be firm, but don’t yell. A certain amount of cursing is expected when you’re pushed too far.

But don’t drop any F-bombs. Raise your voice if you need to, but don’t scream and yell. Screaming and yelling will only incite toxic people to push your buttons to see you react, then tell anyone who’ll listen that you’re “mentally unstable.”

Go somewhere private and cry if you need to. Crying doesn’t mean that you’re weak. It means that you’re a human being with feelings.

Do whatever you must do to get it off your chest because the sooner you can process those bad feelings, the sooner you can forgive and move on to a better life.

I’m glad to say that I eventually healed and forgave them. And when I did, I found a peace I hadn’t known in years. I was able to forgive them through reading, researching, and writing about bullying.

During something constructive gave me closure and I couldn’t be more grateful!

But first, I had to heal!

A Re-Blog: Care Enough To Look — Fractured Faith Blog — Rethinking Scripture

A beautiful but heartbreaking about invisible illnesses and the judgement dished out to those who have them. From the “Fractured Faith” blog as reblogged by “Rethinking Scripture”.

No words needed. People with mental illnesses may not have broken bones but they have broken dreams, broken minds and broken hearts. Their illnesses may be invisible but the signs are there if you take the time to look for them. The onus is on you to reach out to them, not for them to […] […]

via A Re-Blog: Care Enough To Look — Fractured Faith Blog — Rethinking Scripture

Lulls In Bullying: What Do They Mean?

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Here’s another important fact that people often miss when it comes to bullying and harassment of a target. Bullying is a pattern with highs and lows with breaks, or lulls. These peaceful little reprieves can last for up to several months.

What does this mean?

This pattern of highs and lows feels like a roller-coaster ride you can never get off. But there’s a purpose behind it.

If you are a target of bullying, you will often notice that the bullying slowly escalates to a peak of nonstop harassment, then seemed to gradually decrease until it disappears for a while. There will be a reprieve and you will think that the bullying is over and finally begin feeling comfortable enough to let yourself relax.

Then after a month or two, WHAM! The bullies strike again with something new!

1. Understand that these lulls are more deliberate. They’re used to give the bullies time to regroup and think up new strategies. And these strategies will be tactics you’ll never suspect. The bullies will then ambush you with something new and invented, and be sure to take you by surprise.

2. The lulls are also used to give you a false sense of security. They want you to get comfortable and let down your defenses before they blindside you when the time’s right.

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Bullies are very strategic. They plot, they plan, and they do these things in groups. Bullies are very calculating people. They slowly and cunningly set the stage for their attacks. You must stay a few steps ahead of them by equipping yourself with the knowledge of how bullies operate.

If you are a target, I want to give you a better understanding of these patterns so you can use them to your advantage.

Just the knowledge of this pattern will allow you to better prepare yourself for the next attack!

Kids Under the Latch Key

Kids Under the Latch Key

Kids Under the Latch Key

During the summer of 1987, then sixteen-year-old Grace Bradshaw, her younger brother Max, and neighborhood friends befriend Randy Spence, a twenty-one-year-old mentally disabled man with the IQ of a child.

Because Randy is mocked by many in the corrupt small town, Grace, Max and their neighborhood friends take him under wing and protect him while learning hard lessons about the way most people treat those who are different.

Along the way, Grace, her brother and younger neighborhood friends also learn shocking lessons about good and evil.”

A first-person narrative told by a now middle-aged and widowed Grace Bradshaw McGuire to her adult children, “Kids Under the Latch Key” is a heart-touching story of the summer which prompted her to question God and challenged her initial belief that all humans are inherently good.

Never Suppress Humanness

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Why should I put on a veil of perfection?

Why should I hide my flaws? Everyone has them whether they admit it or not.

Why should I bend over backward to conform to being the cookie-cutter version that everyone wants me to be? It takes strength and bravery to be oneself.

Why should I be forced to suppress my emotions when the situation calls for it, and I’m rightfully sad, afraid, or (gasp!) pissed off?

Why shouldn’t I allow myself to make mistakes? That’s how we learn.

Why shouldn’t I, on some days, let myself lounge around the house in my pajamas and no makeup?

Why shouldn’t I allow myself to splurge on a tub of Ben & Jerry’s every now and then?

Why shouldn’t I allow myself to have my own opinion?

Why shouldn’t I allow myself to speak my mind when need be?

I’d rather be myself exactly as I am, the good, bad and ugly. I won’t suppress any aspect of me. I allow myself to be completely human, no matter who doesn’t like it.

To deny humanness is to be fake. Being fake is too much work, and I’m too lazy.

If a Bully or Someone Who Normally Mistreats You Starts Being Nice All of a Sudden, LOOK OUT! (Part 2)

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So, your bullies have suddenly had a change of heart. They’re finally treating you right. They’re finally talking to you like you’re equal to them. The bullies are smiling in your face, giving you pats on the back, and talking to you like you’re one of them and you belong.

But you’re smarter than what they give you credit for. You notice that the bullies are so sweet – too sweet. You think that if they don’t stop with the pleasantries soon, you’ll surely fall into a sugar coma!

You also notice a slight fakeness in the tones of their voices and that instead of making you feel good about yourself, they instead make you feel a little gross. But you don’t mention it to them. Just stay polite yet neutral.

The bullies are even inviting you to sleepovers, parties, cookouts, lunch and dinner dates, meetings, and family get-togethers. Every time these people talk to you, they seem to gush over you, and there again is that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach.

You grow suspicious of them, and rightfully so. And in your mind, you ask yourself, “Why are they acting so nice to me all of a sudden?”

You politely decline the invitations they extend to you. But trust me, they won’t give up so easily. There will be a few more tricks up their sleeves. You can bet on it.

Here’s another bad sign to look for:

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1. They’re nosey. The bullies will seem so interested in your life and in what you’re doing. But don’t be flattered. Chances are, they’re only probing you for information they can use against you later.

They will ask you a ton of questions about your family and what you do outside of school or work. Those questions are innocent enough. However, they will slowly and gradually move into more personal territory.

Bullies will begin asking you what your political views and beliefs are and about your religious views. You don’t have to answer those. It’s none of anyone’s business!

Before long, they will begin prying into your personal and private business. These snoops will ask your opinion of this person and that, who you’re dating, how you feel about this, that and the other. They will ask questions that anyone with a brain would know better than to ask. Some things are just off limits!

Bullies will even share with you some personal deets about themselves. But don’t be fooled! They’re only doing it to put you at ease and in hopes that you’ll share a few of yours. Again. Don’t fall for it!

Understand that any time someone asks questions that are none of their business, it’s a dead giveaway that they intend to use your answers against you. Don’t answer them!

Also, anytime people ask you very personal questions, it also means that they don’t respect your right to privacy. And be warned that when you refuse to let them in on your private business, they may come back and accuse you of “having something to hide.”

Don’t believe it! Because it’s not about having anything to hide, it’s about knowing that some things aren’t anyone’s business, and they should respect that.

Never share anything that you wouldn’t want anyone else to know!!!