I want you to realize that everything you say, good or bad, can be used against you in the court of public opinion if you are a target of bullying. So, please, don’t be confused or surprised when this happens as it will only further cloud your thinking and cause you not to defend yourself properly.
If you are a target of bullying, EXPECT the following:
1. Any joke you tell, no matter how funny it may be, will be considered unfunny.
2. Any self-deprecating humor will be seen as your having no self-confidence or being mentally unstable.
3. Any sarcasm will be taken literally.
4. Any casual comments such as, “I would love to have been able to sleep in this morning,” will be taken as your admitting you planned to be absent from school or work today and are complaining about having to come in. They will accuse you of either being a lazy bum or so depressed that you found it difficult to get out of bed.
5. Any positive statements or compliments will be seen as kissing up or an attempt to score points with the recipient.
6. Any self-confidence and good self-esteem will be perceived as being pompous, arrogant, and full of yourself.
7. Refusing to talk to your bullies and their minions or to answer any gotcha questions, though justified, will be deemed as your being “too good to speak” or having something to hide.
8. If you smile, they’ll think you’re plotting something.
9. If you’re happy, you must’ve done something evil.
In short, when you are a target of bullying, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.
The sooner you realize this, the sooner you’ll be able to prepare for the attacks and to either properly counter them or to make your escape to a better environment.
Recently, I wrote a blog post entitled, “Should the Opinions of Bullies Matter?” In it, I stated the reasons why they shouldn’t and that the only opinions that should were those of the people who love us and want the best for us.
And it’s true. Bullies’ opinions shouldn’t concern us and for some targets, they don’t. but the more I thought about it, the clearer it became that maybe I should’ve added more to the post.
So, here goes!
Though bullies’ thoughts and feelings of you shouldn’t matter, it doesn’t mean they can’t affect us, or even hinder us.
The reality is that the bullies’ opinions of their target can have a huge impact on the target’s life. Their thoughts and feelings of the target can determine whether other people outside the bully/target conflict feel comfortable associating with the target.
Although we don’t want to admit it and, no, it isn’t fair, the personal opinions of other people often are the deciding factor or whether we’re well-liked or lonely and hated.
Bullies influence the attitudes of others who otherwise either wouldn’t have an issue with us or would be great friends under different circumstances. The opinions of bullies have a way of spreading far and wide- making bullies out of those who, under normal circumstances, would never resort to mistreating another human being.
It’s amazing what a contagion effect bullying has on schools, companies, organizations, and communities.
We must learn about bullying from all angles. Because the more we know, the better we will be able to salvage our good names and counter some of the effects it may have on our lives.
It’s not easy for people to distinguish between the real bully and the victim. Bullies are good at making victims look guilty, showing only the victim the worst, most brutal, and evil sides of themselves while showing everyone else their best, sweetest, and most loving halves of their personalities.
The bully may feign sympathy and compassion for her victim by making statements such as, “I feel so terrible for (victim’s name). I sincerely hope she gets the help she needs before it’s too late.”
Bullies accuse their victims of attacking them when it’s the other way around, and people can quickly either get confused and not know who did what to who or blame the wrong person altogether.
Many times, if you’re a target of such torment, whether people believe you or not depends on their relationship with you and with the bully. If the bully is someone they either like or love, they will, out of loyalty, take the bully’s word over yours. It won’t matter that the bully is in the wrong.
People tend to believe those they care about and disbelieve those they don’t care about or don’t know. Even worse, they may know that the person is, in fact, an abuser but still side with them against you if they like them even a little more than they do you.
Bullies aren’t stupid. They know what they’re doing. Often, they will act as a great person around everyone else. In public, they present as fine, exemplary, upstanding, and respectable human beings. But only the poor, demonized victim knows the truth.
Victims are usually stressed and worn down. If the bully has gaslighted them for long enough, he has persuaded the target himself that it’s all his fault. Many targets of bullying have had their realities distorted over time, and it’s the worst thing that can happen to them.
Many victims believe themselves to be horrible people and deserving of the torture inflicted upon them because many times, they’re blamed and made responsible for their suffering. That’s what bullying and gaslighting do after so long. They brainwash you!
That’s why Bullying and Gaslighting are such a deadly combination. Bullies and their allies force victims to believe that they’re so inherently evil that the only thing they can do is cause anger, hurt, and hatred.
Here’s what life is like for a target of such atrociousness:
You try. You try so hard to be the best person you can be. Yet you’re tortured and tormented by bullies every day. Deep inside, you know you’re a great person, but no one else can see inside you to make that determination.
Because your reputation is in the toilet, others consistently attack you because bullies have defamed you for so long that everyone believes the lies. And no one will tell you what you did wrong, nor will they tell you how to fix it.
And because of the constant attacks, you live in continuous fight-or-flight mode. You can’t help but stay on the defense, and you’re a mess of emotions.
Because bullying leaves you so emotional, you cry, even sob- sometimes uncontrollably! You lash out at the bullies who attack you and at the bystanders who join them after they’ve all pushed you so far.
Although your emotional reaction is entirely normal and natural under the circumstances, they all have the nerve, the audacity, the chutzpah- to get angry at you! That’s right! They get pissed at you for the emotional outburst and use it against you.
Even worse, they use any signs of self-defense against you. And they use it as their confirmations that you’re the bad guy, you’re too sensitive, too emotional, or that you’re crazy.
So, they punish you by escalating the bullying. How can a target- one who’s bullied to pieces and to the point of exhaustion- possibly defend himself against such forces if they don’t have any knowledge about how bullies operate and what they can do to counter them?
Understand that this is the plight of the target.
In bully-speak, targets are not allowed to be themselves. They’re not allowed to stand up for themselves nor speak out against the abuse. In the minds of bullies and bystanders, targets should take it, because they’re beneath everyone else and they deserve it. Bullies expect them to eat crap and enjoy it- just take it with a smile and a yes sir/ma’am, then ask for seconds.
Here’s another scenario to be aware of:
In some cases, you’re so marginalized and have so many people after you that when you’re in a crowded hallway and someone sneaks up behind you and wallops you between the shoulder blades hard enough to knock the wind out of you, and you look behind you to see who it was that hit you, no one points them out. The person who hit you only cowardly fades in the sea of people.
As you look around for your attacker, everyone in the crowd is eyeing you with a mixture of hostility, hilarity, and contempt. And you know what they’re thinking just by the way their eyes seem to shoot fiery bullets at you.
They all look at you as if to say,
“Ha! Yeah! We know who hit you! Like we’ll ever tell you!” or
“So? Whadaya gonna do? Accuse all of us? Right! Like you’d have even a chance of making it home in one piece if you did!”
Maybe someone steals from you or keys your car. Again, you don’t know who to suspect because there are so many people out to hurt you. There’s no way you can pinpoint a specific person.
Understand that this is what it’s like once the bullying reaches a certain point. It’s as if the bullying has now taken on a life of its own. Because the idea of tormenting you seems to be so ingrained in everyone around you- bullies, bystanders, even authority figures- that they can no longer help themselves.
Anytime things have reached such a fever pitch, they’re signs that you’re in grave danger! In a situation like this, the bullying has escalated to a hazardous level, and it likely won’t get better but only worse. Your only recourse is to leave the environment and make a new start somewhere else.
Leave now while you still have your health- and maybe your life! Because if the bullies or their minions don’t kill you first, the stress of the torment will!