Bullying, especially of the psychological and emotional variety, is difficult to prove to people in authority who can help the target. There are several reasons for this:
1. Bullies are Master Seducers (Charmers). Bullies are charming to the right people. When the victim finally gets sick of the harassment and reports the bullying, and when the bully is questioned by authority, the bully will often charm those in power. Other weapons used to charm and influence teachers, principals, and supervisors are high marks, excellent grades, and class/work performance.
Bullies can also use good looks, impeccable dressing, and grooming to seduce others. Called the halo effect, this phenomenon is where those who look the best are the most trusted and respected by others.
2. Bullies are Convincing Liars and Actors. – They have a flair for spreading the most convincing rumors and lies. Bullies do this to convince others not to associate with the victim. Therefore, the target loses support and has no one to turn to for help.
Because the victim often reacts out of emotion and the bully puts on a calm and collected demeanor, people in authority will almost always side with the bully because of this false coolness the bully displays.
The bully points out the target’s perfectly normal emotional reaction and twists everything to convince everyone of the target’s guilt. The victim is unstable, crazy, overly dramatic, or too sensitive. The bully will also feign victimhood by bursting into tears, which is all designed to shift the blame onto the victim and persuade anyone in authority to take his/her (the bully’s) side.
The most seasoned bullies are also master wordsmiths who can explain away and rationalize any bad behavior. They can spin a story that is so convincing that teachers and supervisors will find it hard not to believe it. In the end, the target gets the blame, and either those in authority refuse to discipline the bully or they punish the victim instead.
3. Documenting (or Journaling) offers the disgraced target a voice, enabling them to have a say when no one else is listening. – As stated, the target often gets the blame when he/she reports harassment to the people who can help them. By documenting the abuse, the victim can tell their side without being ignored or having their experiences trivialized by the bully or anyone else.
4. Documenting offers Victims a Legal Record of the Bullying. If the bully hurts the target badly enough to require medical attention or worse, a plaintiff can use the journal as proof in court, should the victim or the family pursue legal action. Documentation is admissible in court.
5. Documenting is very cathartic and therapeutic.– It allows the victim to express the emotions they could never show any other way. Journals cannot trivialize the target’s experiences, nor can they invalidate the victim in any way. Journals are also confidential. They cannot go to the bullies nor anyone else and repeat what the victim tells them.
These are the reasons you absolutely must document every day about what you are put through. When you document, be sure to include who the bullies are (full names and, if necessary, titles and positions), where each incident happened (school locker room, gym, the bathroom at work, etc.), the names of any bystanders and teachers/supervisors present, the exact time and date the incident happened, what happened, what was said and by whom. If possible, write down why it happened (was the bully retaliating because you reported prior harassment?). Write down every detail!
If you have tried telling a staff member or your parents about how classmates or coworkers bully you, only to be silenced or blamed- if no one will listen or offer support, you owe it to yourself to always document the harassment in your daily journal.
You want to document every day to establish a pattern of bullying and abuse. It was how I survived those six long years of being bullied in school. It was the only outlet I had. I can attest to you that if I hadn’t documented everything in my journal every day, I might not be alive today. When I began keeping a written record during the eighth grade, it was freeing, and I felt as if I were finally having my say.
So, if you can’t talk about it, write about it!