I can tell you the metaphors I often used to describe my bullies at school. I often called them:
I remember how they’d get in my face, nose to nose, and scream obscenities and curses while bushwhacking me with their funky breath and spraying me with misty micro-balls of their saliva. How their eyes would bulge so far out of their heads, you’d think they were going to pop out.
How they’d jump out of their seats at me, slinging textbooks and papers everywhere and sometimes flinging their chairs backwards!
I remember one bully picking up a metal waste can and hurling it at me with all their strength. The waste can flew past me, barely missing my head by less than an inch. How their faces would contort and how they’d fly into screaming tirades with long diatribes of obscenities, threats of bodily harm, and personal attacks. It was both bizarre and terrifying!
That’s what overt bullying looks like, especially to targets.
Overt bullying looks like angry and snarling faces that bare their teeth and spit on you as they scream, yell and threaten you while balling a fist in your face.
And they called me crazy? I see it so clearly now. They were the crazy ones.
Then, there was covert bullying.
I remember how the covert bullies would come to me with smiles on their faces. How they would act so sincere as they asked such personal questions about my private life. If I was dating, they’d ask such personal questions:
“Have you given it up to him yet?”
“Have you gotten horizontal yet?”
“Are you still a virgin?”
I didn’t answer those questions, of course. However, the questions alone made me feel violated. For them to think they could ask me such questions so openly made me feel disrespected.
The covert bullying looked like smiling faces with a gleam in their eyes as they hurled zingers and backhanded compliments. Covert bullying was the shaking of your hand with one hand and hiding the knife behind their back with the other. It was the tiny nibbles and little violations of my boundaries that would arouse my anger and provoke me to tell them to piss off, or to mind their own damned business.
I was very ugly to people when they’d pull this crap, and I reacted very harshly. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the covert bullies were looking for- a reaction.
The overt bullies, however, were looking for submission and compliance, and if they didn’t get it, God help the person they wanted it from. And the covert bullies always became more and more overt as time went on. Until they too eventually became just as crazy.
Many of them were so unpredictable. They were like Jekyll and Hide, or like ticking time-bombs. The bullying I suffered was shocking and surreal.
It was as if they were all using black magic- like they had dark powers and they would unleash a legion of demons from the pits of hell. They could magically morph into whatever character they wished, it depended on the audience present at the time.
Understand that those metaphors are just a few examples of how all targets describe their tormentors and if they use those metaphors, listen to them because they’re not lying, nor are they “making it up.” You can’t make this stuff up.
And if you’re a target of this kind of evil, you should always stand up to the mini-micro violations because, if you don’t, the violations will only grow bigger until they become out of control. Never accept even the tiniest of offenses from a bully because if you give an inch, they will take ten miles.
If it’s overt, find a way to remove yourself from the situation for your personal safety.
Remember that you teach people how to treat you and you do it by what you’ll put up with. Always put yourself first and stand up for your rights. You’ll thank yourself for it later. I’m living proof of it.
Thank goodness I don’t get that behavior from anyone anymore because I know how to keep my cool and tell someone in a politer way to get lost any time they stick as much as a toe over my boundary line. And know that you won’t be a target forever either if you continue to stand firm and refuse to accept bad treatment.
Again, if you’re listening to someone who describes the bullying they’ve suffered and refers to their bullies as either of the above metaphors or even as dictators or tyrants, listen to them and more importantly, believe them! They’re telling the truth and they know what they’re talking about!
With knowledge comes empowerment!