When a person deals with people who criticize them daily, it can quickly wear her down and break her spirit. Sadly, many people disrespect the same target repetitively over several years. They will eventually train that person to tolerate it if he isn’t careful and doesn’t safeguard his mind by doing things to maintain a strong sense of self.
If you’re a target and you stay silent and continue to put up with it, you are, in essence, permitting your bullies to keep abusing you. ‘You see? Here’s how abusers and most bystanders see it, and I’ve heard many perpetrators and witnesses say it out of their mouths.
“If he puts up with it, then he deserves it!”
No! You don’t deserve it. Ever! You have every right to stand up to abuse because it’s a form of violence. The person is violating your boundaries, and it’s up to you to protect those boundaries.
Understand that this is your life, and no law says you have to take crap from anyone.
My grandmother, God rest her soul, tolerated a truckload of abuse as a young woman in her twenties and thirties. The time she was living in was the fifties and sixties. During that era, society expected women to stay silent and submit to abuse.
She had a narcissistic husband who violated her boundaries at every turn. He even lorded over the children too. This beautiful woman dealt with mistreatment from others as well. My grandmother was the very definition of class and grace. She was tall, thin, and gorgeous- the poster lady of feminine beauty, especially during that era. More importantly, she was kind, humble, generous, and smart! Nothing got past my grandmother!
Yet my grandfather never acknowledged her virtues and good qualities and instead, devalued her. He was jealous of her beauty and her smarts. She used her smarts to battle the abuse, and it would enrage him every time she’d trick him. But eventually, she got tired and fed up.
She finally got angry with herself for putting up with his abuse all those years. That’s when she waited until he went to work, then drove into town and filed for a legal separation. Next, she had all the locks changed, and when he got home, she handed him the papers, had his bags packed and ready for him, and told him to get out.
My grandfather was stunned. He never expected her to leave, and for a long time, she hadn’t. Her love for him was that strong. But in the end, she had to love herself enough to walk away from the marriage.
And she needed to love herself more than she did him, which took a lot of strength and courage. She was surprised at how much better her life got once she got over the grief from the divorce.
He stalked her for a while, driving by the house and trying to keep tabs on her. But she continued to hold firm, and she never took him back.
But that was my grandmother. She was a rock, and it’s how I remember her.
The point of my story is that putting distance between yourself and abusers, whether they be an abusive partner, an authoritarian boss, or abusers at work or school, is essential to finding peace of mind. All of the above are bullies and don’t deserve a seat at your table.
It’s why I left Oakley and I choose not to go to any future class reunions. And it’s the reason my telephone number was always unlisted when I lived in Oakley for a little while as an adult during the late ’90s and early 2000s. I didn’t want to risk the possibility of any former bullies looking me up in the directory and finding not only my number but my street address.
And even today, none of them know where I am. All those people know is that I no longer live in Oakley, and I intend to keep it that way.
Distance is a blessing, and it’s the best weapon against bullies. It pays to stay away and ensure that they also keep away.
If it’s possible, targets should put as much distance between themselves and their bullies as they can. As long as you’re out of their reach and they stay away from you, they can’t bother you.