How Targets Can Sometimes Become Bullies Themselves and Why

Good morning everyone. This is and always will be very hard for me to admit to because no one wants to admit that they were ever a bully. However, I feel an obligation to each and very bullied person to be truthful about how I too bullied others during school to keep my own self-esteem from completely bottoming out. With that said, I have felt complete remorse over the last two decades and would like to offer a sincere and heartfelt apology to those I caused harm to during those years. I am truly sorry.

Like attracts like. Good produces more good and evil begets evil. Bullying can be used as a defense mechanism…bullying in response to bullying. Targets of bullying feel powerless and often learn very quickly to become bullies themselves in order to reclaim some of their power. Because they are being tormented, they get the impression that to stay off the bottom of the pecking order, they must find a target of their own to degrade and humiliate. This is wrong!

Often, bullied children and teens feel helpless. They feel that they have absolutely no control over anything in their lives. Therefore, they too become bullies in an attempt to feel some sense of power and control over something…ANYTHING. They often bully others who are even more powerless than they are to make themselves feel better about themselves.  Crap always rolls downhill and no one wants to be at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Just as there are people who fight to stay on top, there are others who fight just as hard to stay off the bottom. An example of this would be: A child gets yelled at by parents, then goes outside and kicks the dog. It is the same with most bully targets. I simply call this “Kicking the Dog”.

I was guilty of the same thing. I am ashamed to admit how cruelly judgmental I had become in high school. I constantly pointed a finger, I scoffed and laughed at people, and I scapegoated those I thought were easy and pieces of scum. I thumbed my nose, I looked down on and talked down to certain others. I exalted myself over particular people, I lorded over them. Yes! I did all of that…in front of an audience. All for the purpose of holding power over certain individuals, getting my thrills and looking cute.

From Victim to Victor, Chapter 29: “…Yes, I am guilty of bullying others I perceived as less than myself. Yes, I thumbed my nose at the types of people mentioned above and I did this to boost my own beaten down self-esteem and make myself feel better. And yes, I was wrong for doing so. However, at the time, it was the only way I knew to survive being bullied myself.

This served as a temporary fix to my brokenness. It was only a salve…a Band-Aid. It was akin to being a drug addict and getting a hit to keep painful withdrawals away. It took away the symptoms but not the cause. It was the same when I would bully and look down on people less fortunate than I was. The self-esteem high I would get from looking upon these types with scorn and loftiness was always short-lived.

And so, anytime I would start to come down from my self-esteem high, I would have to, once again look for someone else dumber and/or weaker than me, to pick apart and degrade by pointing out their bad qualities in order to feel good again. I constantly probed others, looking for shortcomings that I could use against them. If I could not find any flaws, I would just simply make them up and then convince my target of it. This was a cycle that would continue for a few more years.

I am telling you this because I have been on both sides of the fence. I have been both a target and a bully. I want you to understand that there is something seriously wrong with anyone who has to resort to bullying in order to feel good about themselves. If at any time, you have to look down on someone and mistreat them by pointing out their misfortunes and/or less than desirable qualities, the real problem is within yourself.

True confidence is not achieved by resorting to temporary fixes such as these I have just mentioned. No. True confidence flows continuously and is steady. It oozes from every fiber of your being naturally and effortlessly. True, authentic confidence is unshakeable!

Real confidence is quiet and there is no need to boast. There is no need to cause psychological, physical, emotional or spiritual harm to another human being to achieve it. It is still there but obscured…hidden because some creep from the past has wounded you so badly that you have suppressed it out of fear. I believe that each and every one of us is born with confidence and a heart of gold. Yet over time, our environments, circumstances and sadly, the people in our lives can slowly chip away and erode that natural confidence and goodness we were born with.

After being hurt for so long, we withdraw from others and put up a barrier. We turn cold and began to harden ourselves to numb feelings of rejection and the pain that comes with it. Before long, we regard the feelings and suffering of others with indifference. We just don’t give a damn about anyone, how they feel or what they think, sometimes even the people who love us. We no longer have any respect for others, much less ourselves. Lastly, we come to that evil place where schadenfreude takes hold and we secretly or openly, take pleasure in seeing others, especially those we despise, suffer.

I can say this because I was there. I had allowed my bullies to change me from a caring, loving child to an evil, spiteful teenager. I had become this person I was never taught to be. I was angry, full of bitterness and spite because of the torment which had been inflicted on me for the last four years. I went from being friendly and accepting of everyone, regardless of what they had, to being this cruel, cold, heartless human being who was beautiful…gorgeous on the outside, but very ugly and rotten on the inside.

Because I had been unfairly judged, I judged others. Because I had been bullied, I did my share of bullying. Because I had been picked apart, I wanted to pick others apart. Because I was miserable, I wanted someone else to be miserable too.

And how did I learn to be so cold, calculating and heartless? My own bullies had taught me very well how to bully and degrade with stealth and precision. And they had taught me by doing the same to me. I learned from them how to be even more meticulous and cunning. Yes, there were times when I got caught and was punished, but there were more times when I avoided accountability.

I used to get my kicks out of seeing others’ friendships and relationships end. At different times in high school, I would instigate fights between other people, then stand back and watch proudly what I, at the time, referred to as my handiwork. I enjoyed watching the two girls that I had very stealthily turned against one another, duke it out between themselves, laughing inside while making sure to cover up my bursting gratification with a false look of concern.

And why did I do this?  Because I had no real friendships myself and was jealous of other girls’ friendships. I wanted to destroy those friendships in order to feel like I was not the only one. I wanted to sneakily inflict pain on them because I was in pain. And it would feel so much better to have someone else suffering along with me than to suffer alone.

I was in a very dark place then but I am happy to say that I have managed to dig myself out of that hole and now that I am wiser, no one will ever again put me back in that place…EVER! Not my former classmates, not my coworkers, not a neighbor, not a husband or boyfriend…NO ONE! Also, I now enjoy seeing others happy and fulfilled.

You do not have to do what I did and change your personality to survive. It is not necessary for you to become like them… evil and spiteful, inflicting chaos in the lives of others just to feel better about yourself. There are better ways to achieve those results.

Instead of bullying the bully, stay your true self. Kill them with kindness or come back at them with something funny to throw him/her off kilter. It will take the wind out of their sales because they cannot shake you. Even better, you will feel better about yourself in the long run, just knowing that you did not have to turn into some venomous snake to survive and the confidence that you get from this will be authentic and long lasting. Whereas, the confidence you get from bullying others will always be superficial and short lived. As a result, you will be on a constant search for flaws in others…fodder to use against them in order to feel better. You will also search for a backup victim in case your usual target is not available. Take it from someone who has lived it, this is extremely exhausting and is certainly no way to live.

From Victim to Victor, Chapter 31: “…I absolutely loved the rush of power I would get from talking down to certain people at school. Because it made me feel like a winner…a boss…a champion…a queen!  I relished the fact that I too had the power to ruin some poor soul’s day…to make them squirm with nervousness…to reduce them…demean them…dehumanize them…crush them! This had become so addicting for me that I just could not get enough of it. I needed more. And the more I broke some poor sucker down, the better I felt. I knew I had become a bully and I was actually proud of that because I thought that being a bully meant POWER!

I was doing to certain others what had been done to me. At that time, it was the only way I knew to preserve my self-esteem…”

I want you to know that being bullied does not give you the right to become a bully. Think about how you feel when someone mistreats you. Now think about how your target must feel. The power that you get from bullying another person is only temporary. Whereas, the power that you get from showing kindness and love is INFINITE!


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