The term for it is Othello’s Error on the parts of teachers, principals school officials, supervisors, and managers.
It comes from Shakespeare’s play, “Othello”, in which the main character, Othello assumes that his wife, Desdemona is having an affair based on her nervous response when he questions her.
In reality, Desdemona is innocent but the aggressive and volatile nature of Othello and his intimidating questions make the poor lady nervous. Othello takes this as a sign of guilt. It is often the same in real life.
Often, when a person is questioned and shows nervousness, most accusers and witnesses misread the response and take it as a sign that the person is lying or hiding something. It’s how so many people have gotten blamed for something they didn’t do.
Just as nervousness is too often mistaken for deception, the show of confidence is mistaken for honesty and trustworthiness. As we all know, bullies are well-known for feigned confidence and false bravado.
Victims of bullying are always nervous and rightfully so. Who wouldn’t be if they were constantly abused, shamed, name-called, threatened, and physically attacked?
And people are notorious for rushing to the first possible explanation which fits what they want to see. Should it be any wonder why victims are blamed, and bullies go scot-free?
After the abuse goes on for so long, victims learn to expect more of the same and they usually get it. Because the expectation of such treatment brings more and more of the same, which makes the victim more nervous with each occurrence.
As the target grows more nervous, bystanders and authority grow more and more suspicious of him.
The fact is that nervousness has several reasons and the mistake is often in the decoding of it and not the observation!
Targets of bullying often get accused of being selfish and out for their own interests. However, anytime we are hurting so badly, the pain only blunts our capacity to feel for others.
Anytime a person suffers severe and relentless bullying for so long; their pain overrides any ability to empathize with those around them, who may also be hurting.
It’s like lying in the emergency room with both legs broken after a car accident. The pain is so intense that you could care less about the patient in the next room. All you’re thinking of is how soon a doctor will see you and order a pain reliever.
I tell you this because it happened to me. When I was a target of bullying in school, two girls in my class died in a horrific car crash during the eleventh grade and as much as I hate admitting it today, I could not have cared less.
Naturally, I don’t feel the same today. Now, thirty years later, I’m sorry that happened to them, but at the time it happened, I had absolutely no feeling for the girls and even had the attitude that it had served them right and that maybe I’d get lucky and a few more bullies would drop dead soon.
I had been a target of the class for so long I just did not have it in me to care.
After a person endures bullying for so long, he/she becomes cold and unfeeling toward other people if they aren’t careful, and it will only bring about resentment from people who might otherwise offer love and support.
If you are a target of bullying in school or at work, never let it take away your empathy, your kindness, and your humanity. It won’t be easy, but there are ways to buffer your self-esteem from the effects of bullying and hold on to your sweetness.
Humiliation, unlike embarrassment or shame, leave’s a mark on the person who suffers it, and the stigma which surrounds the person can follow them for the rest of their lives. Why? Because people who’ve been publicly humiliated are always thought of and remembered by their humiliation. Think, Harvey Weinstein and the sex scandals which broke a year or so ago.
Although ol’ Harvey’s humiliation is well-deserved, not so for victims of bullying. Innocent victims are often humiliated by their bullies and stuck in an uncomfortable and degrading position while others gather around excitedly to taunt and abuse them.
Humiliation has been used down through the ages. Tarring and feathering was a technique used back in olden times, which involved covering people with hot tar and feathers and parading them through the crowded streets on a horse-drawn cart. Think of Chuck Connors’ character, Jason McCord, in the old western series, “Branded”.
To humiliate someone is to assert power over them by denying and destroying their personal dignity. Through history, humiliation has been the most common and effective means of punishment, abuse, and oppression. It’s not the threat of imprisonment or even death that is a deterrent of crime; it is the dread of humiliation.
It’s a fact! People fear losing face worse than they do a violent death!
Humiliation is also used to maintain a social hierarchy and to emphasize that the group, alumni, organization, or community as a whole supersedes the individual. It is designed to defuse any threat to a particular order or someone’s esteemed position.
In student hierarchies in schools, bullies at the top of the pecking order go to great lengths to protect their often ill-gotten status and uphold their positions while the other kids are forced to submit to different kinds of debasement. And it’s the same in the workplace too.
Anytime a target of bullying defends himself against harassment and abuse; the bullies will often use humiliation to retaliate and subdue the victim by way of jokes, pranks or setting the target up to get in trouble with the staff or a horrific beating by other kids. Bullies at the top will also spread vicious rumors and lies against their object.
Most forms of humiliation involve invading the victim’s privacy and sneakily taking videos of him/her in compromising positions.
A targeted girl is taking a shower in the locker room or undressing in the privacy of her bedroom, and the bullies hide behind a corner or just outside her bedroom window at night and take videos of her with their smartphones. They then spread the videos to other classmates. Or worse, a girl naively sends her boyfriend a nude selfie. They break up. He then shares it on social media and the photo goes viral!
A targeted boy is standing in front of a urinal using the bathroom and a bully hides in the stall next to him, peering through the crack and the lense of the camera on his smartphone, taking videos of his manly areas. He then sends the video to all his buddies, and they laugh and joke about how small, crooked, his package is (or it could be the mole, anything different about it). Remember the suicides of Tyler Clementi and Amanda Todd and the circumstances surrounding each case.
Example 3: A bright worker is set up to fail in the workplace. And when he does, it follows him the rest of his working life.
Humiliation is horrible for anyone. The reason it is so devastating is that it involves negative things with which the victim will always be associated, and there will be no getting away from it! Embarrassment and shame are only temporary. Humiliation, however, can follow a person for the rest of their lives!
So, if you are a victim of bullying, protect yourself. Also, I cannot stress this advice enough! No matter how much your boyfriend/girlfriend may claim he/she loves you! No matter how much the person begs and pleads for you to do it, nor what they threaten you with if you don’t! Never, ever, ever let anyone talk you into sending a nude pic! Ever!
And if anyone ever films you in an indecent position without your knowing it, know that what they did is against the law! Speak out about it and file not only criminal charges but a civil suit for damages!
The more you know, the better you protect yourself!
Here is something which does not get mentioned enough. Often, when a girl is singled out for bullying, she is left wide open for sexual harassment. The harassment can range from inappropriate and embarrassing comments to unwanted physical touching. Though I’m female and am mainly writing this post from a female perspective, I do realize that this can happen to bullied young men as well.
I cannot tell you how many stories I’ve heard from other female victims and survivors of bullying, nor can I tell you how many times I was subjected to this type of behavior myself when I was in junior high and high school.
Young creeps on the bus, in the halls or the lunch line, would sneakily run a hand up my skirt, put their hands on my behind and other such disgusting acts.
As any woman or girl knows, having sexual comments hurled at you and being groped or felt up leaves you feeling cheap and violated. And your first thought is to blame yourself. You wonder what you did to bring it about.
“Was my dress too short?” “Were my jeans too tight?” “Did I have on too much makeup?”
Even worse is when other girls blame you, assuming that you “must have done something to make him do it”- that somehow, you “asked for it.”
Such incidences can attract the ire of the guys’ jealous girlfriends, and these girlfriends will accuse you of trying to steal their boyfriends while the pig who violated you walks away Scot free. This only doubles the victimization! It’s no different from what a rape victim goes through!
Bullied girls can also be sexually harassed by other girls as well, only in different ways. Girls harass other girls by verbal means, making statements such as,
“Nobody will $%#! you.”
“I’ll bet you’re still a virgin, aren’t you?”
”You’d $%&# anything that moved!”
These are only a few. I’ve heard of worse. Sometimes, the other girls will encourage the boys to harass the victim sexually, then turn it around on her, calling her a whore, slut, floozy, take your pick.
In school, I even knew another bullied girl during school who others referred to as “Tuna Fish.” I’ll say no more.
Understand that any time a female is the object of bullying, she has comments and remarks directed at her which are unspeakable- so horrible and explicit that you don’t dare repeat them by mouth, much less write it in a book or article.
There is no limit to the low that bullies won’t sink. They can be inventive to the raunchiest, raciest, dirtiest, most vile, hurtful and demeaning comments and actions and anyone who hasn’t been on the receiving end of such would be shocked if they heard or saw some of the things a bullied girl has.
Understand that bullies show a side to their targets they would never in a million years show to anyone else.
Objects of bullying witness firsthand the shocking evil and cruelty of which people are capable, and they see the absolute darkest sides of the human character.
Bullies are experts at fooling bystanders and authority. They are highly skilled at manipulating social infrastructure.
Bullies are also very aware that if the victim reports such abuse, others will not believe her because the same bullies have meticulously ruined her once good reputation. And who’s going to take the word of someone with a notoriously bad name?
Understand that bullies will only show the worst sides of their characters to their victims and no one else. Why? Because to bullies, the victim is both inferior and powerless.
When a person believes that you are inferior and powerless, they could care less about what you think of them. As far as they’re concerned, any opinions you have are irrelevant. Whereas, anyone the bullies see as equals or superiors will only see the best sides of their character.
With that said, if you are a bullied female, I want you to know with every fiber of your being that it isn’t your fault. Know that you never asked for that kind of behavior, nor brought any of it on yourself.
So if you are bullied and endure sexual harassment, do not take any blame for it and for goodness sake, don’t be afraid to report it!
Know that bullying will not last forever. When I became an adult, the bullying stopped, and I am now very well-liked, loved, and respected.
I want you to know that this is only one chapter in your life, not the entire book. You too can overcome and move on to love, happiness, and success. Just don’t give up!
You are beautiful! You are a great person despite what others may tell you or how they may treat you.
You are worth fighting for! You are worth living for!
I’m fortunate enough to have grown up in a time when cyber-bullying was unheard of. When I was in school, “Street Bullying” or “Playground Bullying” was the type of bullying targets of my generation endured.
“Street Bullying” happens face to face. It happens on the playground, in the hallways, the bathrooms and locker rooms at school. Years ago, a student could escape it and have some form of refuge once the dismissal bell rang and school was over for the day. And when it got too much to endure, the victim simply changed schools and the problem was solved.
Sadly, those days are long gone. With today’s technology, bullies have unlimited access to their targets by way of “Cyber-bullying”. During the last twenty years, the advancement of technology has introduced email, text and social media. These new vehicles of communication have their benefits. However, they also have their pitfalls.
A bully can nowadays get online and torment their targets for as long as they want without ceasing nor accountability. They can, in essence, reach into the target’s own home and torment them from afar.
Cyber-bullying, or online bullying, is harassment of another person with the use of social media, text messages, voice mail, email, and instant messages. It is, in my opinion, the worst kind of bullying there has ever been. Here are the reasons:
Bullies are COWARDS!
Your attackers have the ability to hide behind a fake screen name or they may create fake social media accounts to conceal their identities. They do this to avoid detection and the risk of accountability for their evil actions. With a cyberbully, you do not know who is attacking you. Also, they can use several different screen names to make it look like a multitude of people agree with them and are attacking you, when it may be, in fact, only one poster committing the harassment. This is done to further intimidate the target.
Gone are the days when bullying only occurred on the playground or in the locker room. In the days of old, before technology took off, a target could finally escape their tormentors with the ringing of the dismissal bell at school.
Back then, you could go home to your family and not have to worry about being bullied again until the next school day. You could at least get a break from the torment. However, not so anymore. Technology has a lot of good qualities, one of which is convenience. Unfortunately, nothing is 100% foolproof. With the rise of social media, text, voice mail, and email, bullies can now pursue their targets 24-7. There is no longer an escape!
The third reason why cyber-bullying is much worse than traditional or street bullying is because the taunts, insults, threats, rumors, and lies can be read by a much wider audience, causing loss of relationships, family, friends, businesses, finances, and opportunities. On the emotional side, the target may experience feelings of shock, bewilderment, anger, sadness, despair, depression, hopelessness, and thoughts of suicide.
Traditional bullying is terrible and causes those feelings as well. However, it is something that you can get away from. On the other hand, you can never escape cyber-bullying. This alone is what makes this type of bullying so sinister and so devastating!
If you are a victim of cyber-bullying, it is imperative that you do not respond to the incendiary posts of cyber-bullies, no matter how tempting it may be. However, I realize that some attacks, especially those, which hit you in the jugular, can cause you to respond out of emotion.
This does not mean that you are a bad person for responding to attacks. It does not mean that you are stupid. It only means that you are a human being with feelings and our first instinct is always to defend ourselves and our loved ones when threatened. It is completely understandable.
But no matter what our circumstances may be, we must try to never respond to the ignorance and stupidity of bullies or cyber-bullies. As difficult as this may be, it is better to never give internet trolls what they want. And what they want is a response, any response.
They want to kick you while you are already down and inflict even more pain. If you respond in any way, shape or form, they will know that they have reached their goal. But if they never hear from you, it’s going to disappoint them and they just might give up and move on to someone else.
4. Instead of responding, out them! Take screenshots and expose them!
Cyber-bullying can happen to people of any age. Not only children and teens, but adults can also be cyber-bullied. Although as an adult, I have gotten along with mostly everyone, there have been a few times that I have been cyber-bullied, one instance being right after the death of my husband. I can tell you that after refusing to respond to any of it, the harassment died and the thread was eventually removed. No one has bothered me since.
In their weak attempts to put me down, my cyber-bullies unwittingly made me so many new friends and I received so much support from all over the country. It is amazing how the actions of a bully can sometimes turn into something wonderful.
I will be forever grateful to the people (even strangers) who stood beside me during this tragic time. I hope this helps you in the event that you are cyber-attacked. And I want to assure you that there is always hope, no matter how hopeless a situation may be.
Cyber-bullying can be stressful enough on adults, but devastating for minors. Adults are emotionally better equipped and therefore, more adept at handling themselves in bullying situations, whereas children and teens have yet to fully develop good coping mechanisms.
Children do not have the cognitive thinking skills, nor the processing ability that adults possess. Adults can be hurt by online bullying because they are human and have feelings also. However, any well-rounded adult is better able to look at the situation and see the lies posted online for exactly what they are…LIES. And they have the ability to analyze the bully and see the person as he/she is- useless trash who is in desperate need of a life.
And that in itself can actually be a boost to the bullied adult’s self-esteem…just knowing what a bottom-of-the-barrel, miserable piece of garbage the bully really is. In most cases, an adult can usually laugh it off and go on about their business, provided it doesn’t affect his/her family, marriage, business, opportunities, or way of life. An adult can refuse to accept the lies of another bullying adult and tell them to go blow it out their ear.
A child has not learned to do that yet. Children and teenagers have totally different values than adults. While most “mature” adults place the most value on family, career, and home and less value on popularity; children and teens place the most value on popularity…their friends and being accepted. Most children and teens place emphasis on how others (mainly their peers) see them.
They want to fit in, be liked, and be “cool”. And when those things are threatened, as they always are when he/she is cyber-attacked, it can have devastating effects on self-esteem.
As parents and grandparents, we need to teach our children confidence as confidence is the best weapon against a bully. In my opinion, teaching confidence is the most effective way to protect them because bullies are cowards and they always seek out kids who are insecure, self-conscious, and have low self-esteem. And they do this because they know that a child with low self-esteem is less likely to stand up to them.
Again, if you aren’t careful, this repetition of bullying, abuse, and gaslighting will brainwash you. You’ll internalize it and be convinced of it.
Once your bullies finally convince you that you’re the lowest form of life on Earth, you will adopt a poor attitude and begin behaving in a way that matches your new beliefs about yourself. I know it sounds unbelievable, but it’s true.
You’ll stop believing in yourself.
You’ll have a condition known as “Learned Helplessness.”
Your grades will plummet, and your performance will suffer.
You’ll attract all kinds of bad fortune into your life.
You’ll want so badly to get out of the bad environment and situation you’re in that you’ll begin making poor decisions and life choices out of desperation- choices that may alter the entire course of your life.
You may drop out of school to get away from your bullies. I almost did.
You may quit your job before you have time to find other employment.
You may join a gang or extremist group to feel like you belong and to have friends.
You may use drugs to fit in, or to dull the pain.
And what’s really sad is that you won’t even realize it’s happening until you’re already too far down the rabbit hole. That is, if you ever realize it.
Understand that bullying will change your life- either for better or worse.
It’s hard! I completely get that. I understand how hard it is to keep loving yourself when you’re surrounded by people who hate you. I know how difficult it is to believe in yourself when it seems that no one else does. And I realize that it’s overwhelming to continue trying when everyone else is constantly telling you to give up- that you’ll never make it.
Believe you me. I empathize with you because I was there. I almost gave up.
I attempted suicide in the eighth grade and almost didn’t make it.
I almost dropped out of school during the eleventh grade.
I almost lost hope.
I did some desperate things back then- things that could have gotten me arrested or worse- killed!
If I’d held on to my love for and belief in myself, there’s no doubt that I would’ve spared myself a lot of pain.
But I eventually got mad- at myself! And when I got mad- it gave me the determination that they weren’t going to destroy the rest of my life. I wasn’t going to let them.
That’s what you have to do- get mad. Get determined. Dig in your heels and double down. Be determined not to lose yourself- not to let them destroy the parts of yourself that matter.
Because if you give into your bullies and cave into believing what they tell you, it will become a Self-Fulfilling Prophesy. You’ll end up living up to everything they tell you. That’s not what you want. You don’t want to give your bullies any more satisfaction than they’ve already gotten at your expense. No way!
Why are they so hell bend on making you believe their lies?
Because they know they will succeed at brainwashing you.
Bullies are very much aware that they will get what they want. And what they want is to break your spirit.
The bully’s end goal- to bring you so low that you never recover.
If they can do the above three, then you’re likely to prove them right.
Know that it’s all an attempt to reprogram you and in a vast majority of cases, it works!
Self-fulfilling prophesies are real, and they can destroy your life if you let bullies cause you to have a losing, self-defeating and bitter attitude. On the other hand, having confidence, loving yourself, and having a positive attitude will bring good things into your life.
This is not to say that bad things won’t sometimes happen anyway because they do. Sometimes things happen that we have no control over, and it happens to all of us. However, with a positive attitude, your life won’t be one huge string of bad luck. You will have victories- and more of them then losses.
Attitude does attract things into your life. Like attracts like. How I wish I’d know this when I was young.
When you’ve been a target of bullying for so long, your world becomes shaky. You began to doubt yourself and your abilities. You wonder if they were all right about you all along and that you maybe just didn’t see it. You get clumsy, awkward! A piece of your self-esteem breaks off.
Your decision making takes a big hit. Any decision you make, you wonder if it’s the right one. You may have even become too afraid to make choices. You fumble, screw up, and it seems that the harder you try not to make mistakes, the more of them you make, and the more bullies ridicule, put you down, even hurt you for them. There goes another piece of self-esteem.
You seemingly make gaffes that only make these people angrier at you and do things to rub them the wrong way when you’re only trying to quell any conflict. It seems that anything you try to do to help the situation only seems to have the opposite effect, which erodes even more of your precious self-esteem.
You then begin to have a horrible attitude and outlook on life.
All humans are mean-spirited, greedy, and selfish pieces of sh**.
The world is a crappy place.
I’ll never amount to anything.
And that’s when adverse things begin to happen in your life. Your grades drop, your performance starts to wane, you lose out on awards, achievements, and opportunities. And the bullies are watching and smiling because all that is happening to you is confirming to them that you really are “a loser.” And inside, you know what they’re thinking. Bam! More of your self-esteem is smashed to bits.
Before you know it, what relationships you do have are suffering, and what goals you have- even goals that are, by all accounts, easy to attain, seem unreachable.
Do you see where I’m going with this? It’s only the Law of Attraction at work. Like attracts like. What you think about, even on a subconscious level, always comes about.
People have consistently bombarded you with negativity- insults, horrible names, rejection, disrespect, physical beatings, abuse, everything- and repetitiously. This has gone on for so long that you’ve consciously or subconsciously begun to believe the crap that your bullies have fed you. And what’s really bad is that you’re beginning to live up to it and you can’t seem to control it or stop it from happening.
What you resist will persist.
So, the saga continues. It seems that people are not only breaking their backs to convince everyone else that you’re evil, worthless, and stupid, they’re trying their damnedest to convince you of it too. Because, every day, you hear the same vitriol and get the same abuse over and over. Repetition, repetition, repetition.
Those people seem to be winning at it!
Understand that bullies do this deliberately. Oh yes! There is both a method and a purpose behind it that’s either conscious or subconscious.
Put plainer, bullies mean to get you to believe that you are, in fact, worthless and force you to agree with it and that you deserve the mistreatment. Because if they can get you to believe it too, then you’re more likely to submit to their abuse and demands without protest.
Why else would they try to drum such lies- such garbage– into your head a million and one times a day?
Understand that bullying, because of its repetitiveness, because of its brutality, is a form of brainwashing. It’s not only physical, but it’s also psychological warfare. Over time, it conditions you to believe that you’re no good and will never amount to anything.
And when you’re in a school or workplace full of bullies who loathe you and want nothing more than to destroy you, the psychology of it is akin to being stuck in a re-education camp in a Communist Country. It’s just as mind-altering, and it’s just as damaging.
This is because bullies spoon-feed you their tripe repeatedly until your mind absorbs it and end up believing it too. They physically and emotionally beat you down, then they gaslight you and convince you that you deserve it- that you asked for the abuse and made them have to hurt you.