Targets Don’t Become Targets Overnight

Be very careful. Any time bullies select a potential target, they start out subtle and sweet with their bullying. They test the waters first- always. If the target overlooks their behavior, they move on to more obvious verbal abuse.

Here’s what verbal abuse does. It conditions the target to put up with abuse without them even knowing it. And bullies do it in tiny bites.

The target is unaware of the incremental, bit-by-tiny-bit eroding of their self-esteem. Because the process is so slow, it’s barely noticeable until it’s gone so far that it’s out of control. And by then, it’s too late.

Before long, the target is then blamed for the bullies’ bad behavior and is now a victim. Understand that the motto of bullies is, “might makes right.”

The best way to empower yourself is by paying attention to the vibes others put out,  how you feel, maintaining a sense of your own worth, and by seeing verbal bullying for what it is.

I learned about Power Over and Personal Power when I read the book, “The Verbally Abusive Relationship,” by Patricia Evans about ten years ago.

In short, power over is what abusers use to lord over their targets and bullies are no exception here. And most bullies are desperate to keep that power because it’s the only power they can have. If there’s no target to have power over, one is created.

In her book, Patricia describes power over as the type of power that has clear winners and losers.

“Power over shows up as control and dominance. Personal power shows up as mutuality and co-creation.” (2010, Patricia Evans “The Verbally Abusive Relationship,” p. 27)

Here’s Patricia’s explanation of personal power:

“Personal power is another way of experiencing power, one which doesn’t need winners and losers., dominant people and subordinates, and which doesn’t require power over an ‘other.’ Personal power works by mutuality and co-creation and may be considered a new way of being in and perceiving the world.” (2010, Patricia Evans “The Verbally Abusive Relationship,” p. 29 para 4)

Understand that bullying is bullying whether it comes in the form of spousal abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, workplace and school abuse, or abuse of power and government tyranny. It all comes from the desire to have power over. It’s all abuse, it’s all bullying and every type of it starts out subtle- so subtle that you won’t even recognize what’s happening if you aren’t paying attention.

When we learn to recognize the subtleties, we will better be able to protect ourselves. And how we recognize subtleties is by observing and listening. We must observe body language, listen for the subtext, listen to our gut instinct, and pay close attention to how the actions of others make us feel.

And once we do, we’ll be better able to call out the behavior and spare our self-esteem from being slowly chipped away. In that, we’ll be better able to hold on to our personal power and live happier and more peaceful lives.

What’s the Worst Thing About Being a Target of Bullying?

Bullying and life – pictured as a word Bullying and a wrecking ball to symbolize that Bullying can have a bad effect and can destroy life, 3d illustration

As a survivor of bullying, people often ask me, “What’s the worst thing about being bullied?” Here are my answers:

It’s the pinned up fear and rage you feel but don’t dare show. It’s the paralyzing social fear that sets in. It shuts you down and leaves you withdrawn from the rest of the world. Once people have bullied you for so long, you become intensely paranoid and suspicious of every person you meet. Any laughter you hear, you automatically think, is directed at you.

It’s the confusion. You know that you should take a stand against the bullies. You know that you should speak out about it, only you don’t know how to do it, and you’re terrified that it will only make things worse.

It’s the unanswered questions that play in your mind a thousand times a day. “Why me?” “What have I done to these people” “How do I fix this?” are the questions you have in your head every time bullies surround you and harass you. You know what you want to say to the bullies. “Look! Leave me the &%$# alone!” you scream inside your head but don’t’ dare say it because you know what’s likely to come next.

It’s the feeling of loneliness and isolation. When we suffer bullying, not only do bullies smear us to keep us isolated and from making any new friends, but we- WE automatically put up walls of protection to keep other people out, which only reinforces the separation from others.

It’s the loss of your entire personhood. You forget how to smile, laugh, and have a good time and how to connect with and interact with others. You’re no longer that vibrant, happy, and healthy person you once were. And each insult, each back-biting rumor, each physical attack, each joke, and each prank cuts a little deeper, chips away at your self-esteem, and brings you lower. You feel trapped. You feel as if your bullies are holding you hostage!

Bullies can ruin a target’s life! And they can alter your entire life if you don’t make the changes needed to take your life back.

I won’t kid you. To get out of the hole that your bullies have forced you into, you will have to work hard.

You’ll first need to get out of that environment (if possible), then focus on healing, and lastly, change your entire mindset, which means altering your thought patterns, your attitude, and your whole demeanor. And this change won’t happen overnight but may take years.

However, you must be patient and put in the work and time to take back your confidence and happiness. But I promise you, it will be worth it in the long run, and you’ll be so glad you put in the time and effort!

With knowledge comes empowerment.

Extreme Bullying Disguised as Social Justice

 

Cancel culture started out with people calling out public figures, celebrities, and big companies for wrongdoing. It began gaining traction on Twitter and it was intended to call out offensive behavior and teach big-wigs a lesson anytime they made a racist or homophobic remark. However, it is now used as an excuse to cyber-bully and dox anyone for anything- anyone, including private citizens.

All that needs to happen is for someone either not to like or hate someone. Or maybe someone stands up to “the wrong person.” Maybe a person says something that someone else does not like or is taken the wrong way. Or maybe someone wears the wrong color T shirt.

Maybe the wrong person finds an old photograph from way back in 1983- a photograph of the person they hate dressed as Michael Jackson on Halloween. Whatever the perceived infraction, the target risks being cancelled, doxed, and having their lives ruined. This is indeed a dangerous world we live in today.

When cancel culture first got started in 2017 with the advent of trending hashtags, it was focused on calling out a person committing an infraction, even if they never meant to. All it took to get back into the good graces of the public was to issue a public apology and do better not to get out of line again. Once you made your apology, all was well, and you can get on with your life. But not so anymore.

Now, cancel culture is focused on destroying the lives of the person on the receiving end and a public apology no longer suffices. It’s a shame that human beings can no longer make mistakes without others ruining their lives over it.

Now, the cancel culture crowd cancels people in hopes that they can drive their targets to commit suicide. To me, that’s an indirect form of attempted murder.

Granted, some deserve to have their lives ruined- those who are pedophiles and those who promote child porn and human trafficking. But it seems awful strange that people who are known pedos and who promote such unspeakable things are never the ones who get cancelled. Now how is that? And, more importantly, why? I wonder.

Just a few days ago, I listened to a YouTube video of Stefan Molyneux. In the video, he stated that cancel culture was a dress rehearsal for mass murder. Up until I heard him speak, I never thought about it, but he certainly has a point.

His talk made me think back to when I studied history in school, and it brought back some of the lessons in that class. Yes, cancel culture did exist back in the early 20th century, only it had different names. It will only escalate if it isn’t stopped.

What happens when society gets bored with today’s cancel culture and decides that not even destroying someone’s life is enough and that they should start trying to kill them or have them killed?

Any type of bullying, including cancel culture, only escalates if it’s left unchecked. Cancel culture has happened down through history. Just do your research on Hitler’s Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Fascist Italy, and the former Soviet Union. They are proof that cancel culture is a precedent to mass murder. We know that the last escalation point of bullying is always murder if the person doesn’t commit suicide first.

So, how bad does it have to get before people wake up and realize that they’ve only opened a Pandora’s box?

And when will people start cancelling those who deserve it- pedophiles and others who promote child porn and human trafficking?

As to why they don’t cancel them, could it be because of who a lot of the customers are? That some of the customers are some very popular and powerful people?

It sure makes you wonder why the very people who need to be cancelled are the ones who escape it.

I’ll leave you to ponder the questions in the post because they’re very important questions. Although critical thinking and asking questions are strongly discouraged today, it’s what’s needed in order to heal our world.

A Mile in Charlotte’s Shoes- Excerpt from Chapter 1

Charlotte Hope Covington was born during the summer of 1967- The Summer of Love, in the tiny town of Beulah, Tennessee, delivered by an old-fashioned, patriarchal and country doctor whom allowed her mother, Christie Stapleton Covington, who was married but only eighteen, to lay in agonizing labor for thirty-six hours and endure a brutal delivery even though the better option was to take the tiny baby by Caesarean section. Though Christie was too small in her bones to give birth vaginally, the doctor forced her to give natural childbirth because Charlotte was a month premature and only four pounds. Forceps were used to deliver the tiny baby girl, leaving her little head bruised black from the force of the delivery.

The baby’s father and Christie’s husband, 20-year-old Francis Xavier Covington could not be present when Charlotte was born, for he was in the United States Marine Corps and fighting in the dense rain forests of Vietnam at the time of the birth. It would be another three months before he would return home. Having impregnated his teenaged wife, the night before leaving to go to war, then receiving notice of the pregnancy through written letter, Frank kept a pocket calendar and had long marked out each day as it came closer to the long-awaited due date. Only the baby had come early.

It happened a lot back then- young soldiers impregnating their wives on their wedding nights, which for many of them was the night before they would leave for war. These babies would live for them, carrying on their names should the fates decide that these brave men would never come home.

As each of the two widowed grandmothers looked through the nursery window at the tiny girl-child, they gasped upon seeing the black and blue bruises on each side of her tiny head. The bruises looked like imprints of the forceps used during birth. Martha “Gigi” Stapleton, little Charlotte’s maternal grandmother walked hurriedly to the nurse’s desk and asked the desk nurse to summon the doctor who had delivered the tiny babe. An hour later, Dr. Benoit approached the two young grandmothers and took them into the waiting room.

“I don’t like the look of this! That baby’s little head is bruised! Please tell us she’s going to be alright!” Agnes, the paternal grandmother pleaded in concern.

“We gave her a thorough check as soon as she was born. I think she’s going to be fine.” Dr. Benoit assured the two forty-year-olds.

“Are you positive she’s going to be okay…that something won’t show up a few years from now?” Gigi asked in a fearful tone.

“I’m almost certain, ma’am. I’ve been delivering babies for over thirty years and she’s a little bruised but there’s no damage. The bruises should be completely healed in a week or two. However, I don’t claim to be God, so just keep an eye on her and if she does happen to show any symptoms which aren’t normal, you can have her pediatrician further examine her. Although the birth was a difficult one, she’ll be just fine, ladies. I promise you.” The doctor assured.

The next day, the nurses brought the baby to Christie and placed her in her mother’s arms. Christie, overwhelmed with love for the soft, beautiful but tiny babe, just gazed upon her new daughter’s sleeping face and felt her soft, warm but fragile body through the blanket as she stirred and woke. The young mother just gazed down at her and smiled.

Later, being the first grandchild, the baby was passed back and forth between the two excited, first-time grannies and they each took turns holding her, cooing at her and raining butterfly kisses all over her tiny face before a heavy-set, blonde-haired nurse appeared in the doorway.

“Visiting hours are officially over. Mother and baby need their rest.” The nurse said sweetly. And Gigi handed the baby to the nurse to take back to the nursery. Gigi and Agnes each kissed Christie on the cheek.

“Try to get some rest, honey.” Agnes said lovingly.

“Yes. You’d better rest while you’re still in the hospital. Because once you leave here, you will never rest again.” Gigi half-jokingly warned before waving, blowing an air-kiss and leaving.

After having a difficult time feeding little Charlotte, Christie placed her in her little bassinet, readied her Polaroid camera and took a picture of her. Suddenly, a thick, white square popped out of the camera. Christie detached the square from the camera and began fanning it. After fanning the square for about a minute, the image of the tiny baby slowly appeared and became clear and sharp. Christie then sat the new photo on the rolling bed-table, took out a stationary pad and pen and began to write both excitedly and feverishly. Once the new mom was finished writing, she folded the two-page letter and enclosed it, along with the picture, in an envelope before sealing it.

During the first three days in the hospital, Christie tried hard to get baby Charlotte to nurse from her breast but to no avail. The tiny baby was so weak that she was unable to latch on and suckle hard enough to bring forth the nourishing mother’s milk she needed for sustenance. After three days and a seven-once weight loss, it was realized that the baby had to be bottle-fed.

Dr. Benoit cleared Christie and the baby to return home after a seven-day hospital stay. When Gigi brought the mother and baby home, her sisters, the grandaunts had arrived and were anxious to get their hands on the baby. A house full of excited women and a newborn was a madhouse, but nonetheless joyful. As with every first grandchild, each family member took turns holding baby Charlotte. The grandmothers, the aunts, uncles, everyone got their chance to meet the newest addition to the family. When she was finally passed back to her mommy, Christie could not help but think, “I’ve never even held a baby, never had any experience with one. How can I possibly be a good mother if I haven’t, at the very least, held a baby? How I wish babies came with an instruction manual!”

The baby was two weeks old before Frank finally got the picture and notice of his daughter’s birth in the mail. They had just gotten back to the basecamp the day before after a fierce battle with the Viet Cong. Besides whipping Charlie’s ass, Frank found that he and his buddies had another victory to celebrate. As the men celebrated and Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love” played loudly over Armed Forces Radio, Frank wasted no time showing his fellow marines the picture of his newborn baby daughter.

“I’m a father! She’s here! My baby girl is here! I’m a father!” He shouted jubilantly in his southern accent, “Her name is Charlotte!”

The other marines gathered around him, looking at the picture and congratulating Frank while slapping him on the back and playfully ruffling his flat-topped brown hair.

Frank’s best friend, Lance Cpl. Kozlowski shouted as more marines entered the makeshift barracks, “Hey, fellows! Covington’s baby is here!”

“Waahoo!” another marine screamed in the background.

Frank could not wait to get home so he could meet baby Charlotte. Ninety-nine days and a wake-up was what separated father and baby.

Who Are the People Most Hurtful to a Target? ‘Tisn’t the Bullies (Part 2)

(Continued from Part 1…)

When you’re a target of bullying in school or at work, you can’t afford to put all your trust in anyone, not even those who seem to be your friends. I’m not suggesting you be completely paranoid, only nonchalant. Because in a toxic area, you will have a few nosy wolves in sheep’s clothing around you, who will try to get close to you for no other reason than to probe for intimate details about you and your life.

They will also study you like a lab-rat to see how you react to certain things and find out your opinions, especially opinions of your bullies and other people you go to school or work with. Why? So they can take the juicy deets and report back to your bullies with them.

Here are ways that you can pick up on your classmates or coworkers’ hidden attitudes and intentions.

1. Always observe the people around you – without looking like you’re watching, of course. Use your peripheral vision to scan them and your environment, and you’ll quickly pick up on the moods and sense the elephant in the room (if there is one).

2. Look for body language that isn’t congruent with words and context – Actions speak louder than words. If their body language isn’t congruent with words, background, or the situation and shows even a hint of hostility and discomfort when they’re around you, then “Houston, we have a problem.”

back-stabbing colleagues threatening an employee with scissors and knife

3. Watch for micro flashes – If you’re not careful, you’re likely to miss those tiny, split-second micro flashes of contempt people give without realizing it or when they think you aren’t aware of it. There are good actors; don’t get me wrong, but there are certain things the body gives away involuntarily, and if you look for it, you’ll see it.

When you’re around fake friends, sometimes, as you turn your back, you’ll see a tiny micro flash of contempt on their faces out of the corner of your eye. Then, you’ll get that nagging feeling in the pit of your gut. Don’t ignore that because you don’t only imagine things! Eighty-six, these creeps fast!

4. Notice the person’s feet – You can tell a lot by the feet! If the person is talking to you, facing you, but their feet are pointing away from you, that means they aren’t as “with you” as you think. Put some distance between you and that person.

5. Watch for crossed arms while talking to the person – If you’re having a conversation with the person and they cross their arms over their chest, that’s a dead giveaway! They’re exhibiting closed body language, and they’re closing themselves off to anything you have to say. It’s time to make an excuse to end the tete-a-tete and walk away. You don’t want this person around you.

6. Looking at you without blinking – if they do this, it’s a sure sign of contempt, or they’re trying to intimidate you. Either way, this person is not the person you want to be around.

7. Other signs to look for – a furrowed brow, one corner of the lip slightly raised, an icy, piercing stare, smiling at you with their mouth but not the eyes (no crinkles around the eyes). Any of these signs, you might want to distance yourself.

8. If they look at you, then look at each other when you walk away – again, you want nothing to do with these people.

9. Watch what you share– Very important! Don’t tell anyone anything they don’t need to know. Not even to those who seem friendly Don’t reveal information that’s better off private. Don’t badmouth anybody, especially the bullies, to anyone. They may smile in your face, but you can be sure they’ll report back to the bullies with anything you say and try to fan the flames.

10. Watch for eavesdroppers – If you have an innocent conversation with someone in the hall, be on the lookout for eavesdroppers. Don’t talk near corners or open doors. Many times people will listen in on your discussion, then report back to the bullies with it. Pay attention to people who walk by.

And if you see other people standing around while you’re speaking and those people aren’t a part of the conversation, take the discussion to a place more private.