Targets of Bullying and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

You don’t have to be a combat soldier or veteran to have PTSD. Victims and survivors of rape and incest can develop it. Targets and survivors of severe bullying and abuse can also have it.

Although many of us survive and, better yet, overcome whatever or whoever tried to harm us, it still leaves scars on our psyches. Our abilities to regulate emotions are deeply affected as is our abilities to find stability, happiness, joy, love, and intimacy.

I know this from firsthand experience. Because of the severe bullying I had suffered at school, I was a very angry, hypervigilant, and vengeful twenty-something back in the 1990’s.

All it took was for someone to stare or look at me the wrong way and I’d very rudely and belligerently ask them what their major malfunction was. If someone got in my face, approached me in a threatening manner- did anything to provoke me, I would want to put up my fists.

Because of the trauma I had gotten from the bullying I had suffered in the past, I was determined that no one would ever bully me again.

I remember when I was 23 years old. While standing in the checkout line at the supermarket and having my groceries rung up, another young woman, who happened to be a neighbor I was at odds with, kept standing in line behind me, cursing and shouting at me to “hurry up.”

Sadly, she was one of those people who seemingly stayed into it with everyone in our neighborhood. In a way, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her.

When I handed the cashier my cash to pay for the groceries and the woman put a finger in my face, I grabbed her by the back of her head and slammed her face down across the checkout counter so hard, the machine beeped.

Honestly, I don’t know how I kept from going to jail but I was lucky. No. I was blessed!

Fortunately, other than splashing a bully’s face with a fountain drink after work a year or so before, this was the only altercation I’d gotten into at the time.

When I look back, I’m pretty embarrassed of it now. Being young and not having enough life experience yet, I let some idiot cause me to get violent. ‘Definitely not one of my finest moments!

But that’s what trauma from past bullying can do. It makes you hypervigilant, always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

And when it does, you react. You tell the person off, maybe curse a blue streak in them, calling the person every name but a child of God. Or you double up your fist and give the jerk in front of you a fat lip.

You don’t want to react that way, of course, but it’s kneejerk. Then you end up feeling like a complete heel later. This is what happens when you allow ignorant people to push your buttons and it’s too easy to do when you’ve been traumatized.

Now that I’m older, anytime some creep crosses a line, I usually tell the person to get a life then walk away. But I never stay silent. I’ve found that I can get my point across in only a few words, keep it moving, and continue to feel good about myself. There’s no need to get physical.

And that’s what I would recommend anyone to do when someone is running off at the mouth. If they put a finger in your face, however, there’s no law that says you can’t grab their finger and shove it away. And if the person tries to hit you, then it’s time to throw up those dukes and defend yourself.

There’s nothing wrong with self-defense. It’s how we set boundaries. It’s how we teach people to stay out of our personal space and keep their hands off.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

18 thoughts on “Targets of Bullying and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

  1. Pingback: Targets of Bullying and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) – Tonya LaLonde

  2. Every person has a level where they have been pushed too far and when you have been tormented as a kid it tends to stick with you.

  3. It is like abused puppies, they grow up to be aggressive dogs that don’t really want to hurt anyone, they are just frightened they will be hurt again. Sadly this happens a lot out there in the world with anyone who is bullied. The bullies themselves probably had someone cruel in their lives to teach them the ropes. So many broken people out there need a kind hand and loving heart to heal. I know exactly what you are writing about here, best to walk away like your wrote above.

    • You’re so spot on with this. As for the frightened puppies analogy, I read something similar in the body, “The Body Keeps the Score.” It’s a book about trauma, what it can do, and the psychology behind it. Thank you so much for this wonderful comment!

  4. Pingback: Targets of Bullying and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) | VikingLifeBlog

  5. The first very formidable authority figure bully with whom I was terrifyingly trapped was my Grade 2 teacher: A mischievous friend and I would often be denied recess, lunch and/or after-school-hours leave; or we’d receive sheet after sheet after sheet of lined paper upon which to ‘write lines,’ sometimes until we each had a small pile of about a couple dozen. It was absolutely absurd; and because my friend seemingly couldn’t behave himself, I got dragged down along with him—indeed, plus some. I actually would go down a considerable deal further than he.

    My friend being of indigenous-nation heritage, one might’ve expected that, being the early 1970s, he’d likely have been the one upon whom a brute teacher would focus her fury. But, no, it was to be the tubby, red-headed kid who’d receive Mrs. C’s wrath during 2nd Grade. Although I can’t recall her abuse against me in its entirety, I’ll nevertheless always remember how she had the immoral audacity—and especially the unethical confidence in avoiding any professional repercussions—to blatantly readily aim and fire her knee towards my groin, as I was backed up against the school hall wall. Fortunately, however, she missed her mark.

    With clear hindsight I can safely say that some teachers, at least when I was in grade school, definitely signed up for their corrupted corner of the teaching profession mostly if not entirely to enjoy the power trip over very young helpless children who were forced to go to school on a daily basis by parents who held naïve unconditional confidence in such ‘educators’. There were other such monster teachers besides Mrs. Carol, in particular her sole Grade 2 counterpart situated in the creepy classroom immediately next door—and those two were the true nightmare teacher scenarios for a lot of very young students back in the day.
    With all things coming to an end, I moved on to Grade 3, during which the afternoon-shift teacher on one occasion mockingly humiliated me before the class by questioning my alleged lack of intelligence with incredulity after I asked her a question that she considered to be stupid.

    I had experienced a few more abusive teachers as the grades passed by, but those accounts would take a bit too long to relate.

    Looking back, it seems to me that such teachers may have considered the abuse they dished out on students as perhaps one of the fringe perks/benefits informally included with their job. To allude to the old phrase relating to an abusive husband’s excuse for beating his wife, Sometimes a teacher has to be able to relax, after all.

    • My heart goes out to you. I had a few teachers like that myself, including one who flew into a rage, grabbed my by the collar, and literally lifted me up off the ground in front of the entire class. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. And yes, I agree that such teachers are sadistic and get a huge power rush from the abuse they deliver to “only certain kids.” Thank you so much for opening up about your battles with sadistic teachers. I can imagine how hard it was to talk about.

      And lastly, know that none of their abuse was your fault. They were revealing more about their own issues.

      • Thank you for your kind reply.

        The only other Grade 2 teacher (and the two were friendly) was similarly abusive but with the additional bizarre, scary attribute of her eyes jerking side to side when she talked to you or her class. It was rumored she had a heroin addiction, though I don’t recall hearing of any solid proof of that.

        I remember one fellow second-grader’s mother going door to door in my part of town seeking out any other case of a student who, like her son, had been assaulted by that teacher. I had not told anyone about my own ordeal with my (the other) Grade 2 teacher, and I just stood there silently as my astonished mother conversed with the woman.

        By Grade 6, I noticed how all recipients of corporeal handling/abuse in my school were boys; and I then reasoned to myself that maybe it was because men can take care of themselves and boys are basically little men. It was the early/mid 1970s, after all.

  6. PTSD isn’t talked about nearly enough. Anyone who has suffered from mass trauma probably has some PTSD. Yes it is possible to overcome PTSD for some but a lot of it sticks with you and it is how you deal with it.

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