Bullies may indeed beat the target into submission, but that submission is only temporary. Worse, bullying, beatings, and punishing the target only does one of two things:
It re-enforces the target’s belief that he is vulnerable and that others are hostile toward him- which makes the target that much more likely to defy the bullies to assert his right to exist and to fight back.
The target may attack a weaker and more accessible adversary.
These targets feel vulnerable (and sadly, they are) and they become hypersensitive to confrontations like disparagement or domination. Violent targets come to see other people’s actions and words as affronts. These targets think nobody can be trusted. They also view their entire lives as a battle.
Bully-Victims, or bully-targets are bullied but also bully others they perceive to be weaker. In other words, they are bullies who get bullied by other bullies.
Many bully-targets also suffer severe abuse at home and have a history of demanding attitudes, disobedience, disruptive behavior, and rebellion. With the exception of being severely abused at home, this was me years ago. I felt safe at home but once I left the house, I felt like an endangered species.
As implied earlier, many other bully-targets view their lives as a battlefield because they are abused at home and at school, or work. The abuse they suffer is never-ending and something they can never get a respite from. Therefore, their response is to retaliate and rebel against a world they feel is against them.
They are often severely punished at home for the most minor of infractions- being too loud, being too rambunctious- basically, for simply being a kid!
Many bully-targets have parents who always seem irritated and adults in their families who over-criticize them, threaten them, slap them around, and beat them. One boy who was a bully-target opened up about having a father who would double up his fist in his face and threaten to “knock him through the wall.”
It’s because of things like this that these kids are angry and lash out so easily. The abuse and bullying they suffer does not force them to comply, it only further enrages them.
These kids feel mistreated, misunderstood, and tossed away. They feel that everyone is against them and why not? The abuse they suffer both in and outside the home seems to confirm it!
This is why many targets who fight back are mistaken for bullies. They are perceived by others to be bullying others when, in fact, they are defending themselves.
These kids have the most difficult time with people and with life in general and their futures are at stake. These are the kids who need the most help. And it’s up to us to reach out and help them.
If you know someone who is a target of bullying and falls into this category, I cannot stress enough the importance of being there for them and getting them help. Please don’t give up on them because they aren’t hopeless and there’s still time to help them turn their lives around. By reaching out to these kids, you will be saving their future and their lives!