When people take you for being stupid, it can be a good thing if you know how to use it to your advantage.
You can be sneaky and use the label to deceive them. You can pull some sly, shady stuff and get away with it because no one would ever suspect it was you. They’d never believe you were smart enough to pull it off!
…or “Victim Derangement Syndrome. Whatever you want to call it, it’s extremely toxic and it’s when things begin to become dangerous for a target of bullying.
TDS happens when the lies and bad talk about the target reaches such as pitch that it seems to be the unwritten rule to believe the BS or to, at the very least, act like you do. And too often, the bystander’s safety depends on it!
Bullies, followers and bystanders have TDS when they have such an intense, demented and blind hatred for the target that they’ll believe, without question (and without even blinking!), anything about him, so as long as it’s negative. And the more negative and condemning the rumors, the better and more convenient, and the better it suits the running narrative!
They’ll also believe it, no matter how ridiculous it may sound. Anytime you hear something about a target that sounds absolutely and utterly absurd to any rational and sane person outside the bullying environment, that’s when you know that Target Derangement Syndrome is at play!
Understand that when you’re a target of bullying and everyone in the environment you feel struck in (and you are stuck in) has TDS, that’s when you know the bullying has taken on a life of it’s own. In essence, you are burned in effigy!
Here are the signs and symptoms of Target Derangement Syndrome:
1. Others seem to jump at the chance to diminish anything positive about the target. For instance, if you are a target of bullying and you do a good deed that is either visible or gets positive recognition, others in the class, school, workplace, community, or any toxic environment will only disregard it and make statements such as:
a. “He only did that to make himself look good!”
b. “She’s only trying to score brownie points, kiss ass, (etc.).”
c. “Haha! He’s just did that because he thinks it’s going to get him on everyone’s good side!”
When the target reaches a success, others will only rain on it, saying things like:
a. “Oh, God! Anyone could’ve accomplished that!”
b. “He’s trying to show out! He thinks he’s so special!”
2. People in the environment are wide open with their brutality against the target. Bullies, their followers, and any other bystander who wants to join in the mistreatment won’t even try to hide it anymore. Why?
Because these people know they’re protected from any accountability. They know that their brutality toward you is widely accepted now- even encouraged, or worse, celebrated!
They’ve picked up on the reality that no one will even dare help you (if they know what’s good for them) and won’t utter one word against the open abuse you endure every day. Remember that when others openly abuse you, it’s gotten to a very dangerous level! And you might want to ask yourself this:
“If they can get away with this, what are they likely to do to me next?”
“How much worse will they hurt me later?”
3. People in the toxic environment are blinded by their own hatred of you. They don’t know why they hate you so intensely. They just do.
If anyone on the outside were to ask them what you did or said to them to make them hate you so much, they either wouldn’t be able to answer them at all, or they would throw just any ridiculous answer out there, without having the goods to back it up.
And they’ll hope to the heavens the person asking is lazy and won’t press the issue further, or worse- (gasp!) challenge them to provide evidence that you’re such a despicable and deplorable person.
They’ll give ad hominem responses such as:
a. “Because she’s just a bitch and I hate her”
b. “Because I just hate the bitch!”
c. “Because he just rubs me the wrong way!”
d. “Because he’s a jerk and a know-it-all!”
And because they can’t come up with anything that makes sense, or, God forbid, produce any evidence to back up their (false) claims against you be prepared for them to fabricate lies out of thin air, or viciously attack the person asking the (very legitimate) questions and in that, pose the threat of making them look like the moronic and brutal monsters they really are!
4. These people will be intensely angered each time anything positive comes your way. For example, if you win an award, they may not say it to you, but you’ll see it in their faces and body language. They also may talk through their teeth to one another as their eyes blaze at you.
5. They’ll try to destroy your good mood because they’ll hate the possibility that you might be happy and feel good. If you are a target and they see you so much as laugh or crack a smile, here are a few responses you’re likely to hear from them:
a. “What the hell are you laughing about!”
b. “What the @&%# are you smiling about!”
c. “What have you got to be so happy about, bitch!”
d. Shut up, asshole! You laugh like a hyena!”
e. “I don’t see anything funny!”
f. “I wish she’d wipe that stupid smile off her face!”
SHUT UP rubber stamp over a white background.
6. They’ll shout you down and tell you to shut up, every time you even look like you’re about to open your mouth. Understand that these people don’t think you deserve to be heard, nor to even have the freedom to speak.
7. They’ll all rise against you when you defend yourself. When you have “the audacity” to stand up to them and assert your right not to be abused, they will all gang up on you and gaslight you into believing you asked for the abuse.
If that doesn’t work, expect them to smear you to others. And if that doesn’t silence you, the next step is a brutal physical attack. Always! If they can’t bring you down emotionally, they will do it physically and no one will jump in to help you. I’ve seen this happen and have had it happen to me.
8. They will watch you like a hawk. Understand they everyone else in the bullying environment will be watching you very closely- waiting for you to screw up even the tiniest bit! They will then beat you down with your mistake and never let you hear the end of it.
But understand that these people are only looking for the slightest infraction to maximize and use against you. They will twist, spin, or add to the most trivial thing you do that’s not quite right to make it bigger and more severe. Something as minuscule as knocking over a glass of milk will be made into a Federal case and they’ll swear you did it deliberately.
If they see you talking to a member of the opposite sex, they’ll swear up and down you’re trying to get laid. But if you happen to be saving yourself for your wedding night, they’ll only call you a prude.
If you take one sip of wine, they’ll call you a sloppy, fall-down drunk. But if you don’t drink, they’ll call you a party pooper, boring, or a stick in the mud. They ‘ll make statements like, “Well, he just doesn’t know how to have a good time!”
You will be damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
You must realize that when the bullying and mass degradation of you gets this bad and seems to permeate the whole of the environment, the hatred and contempt for you has reached such a crescendo that it’s has turned into mass mental illness in those around you. At this point, it more than likely won’t get better. It will only get worse until either one of them murders you or forces you to do it yourself.
At this juncture, the best thing you can do for yourself is to run! These people are dangerous and you must get as far away from them and stay away!
However you decide to do it, get these people out of your life and keep them out because these are people you will never be safe around!
From the time we’re toddlers, we’re taught to apologize when we do something wrong. Although this is a good thing, if it’s overdone, it can backfire.
After having been bullied and abused for so long, targets of bullying tend to apologize way too much. Sadly, what often goes with being targeted for bullying is constantly getting blamed for virtually everything that goes wrong, which is why targets are often programmed to apologize for things that don’t need an apology.
With targets of bullying, the apologies are often a knee-jerk reaction that comes from extreme fear. The incessant apologies are ways to appease the bullies and make them go away and leave him alone. And bullies know this.
They know that the apology isn’t heartfelt and that the target is only trying to keep them from harming him again, which either gives the bullies a rush of power or makes them angrier and more determined to hurt the target.
When you’re a target of bullying, you’re often forced to take accountability for things you had nothing to do with or that were beyond your control. So, you get into the self-defeating habit of apologizing, thinking that it will protect you from further abuse. But even if it does save you from being brutalized, it will eat away at your self-esteem.
If you’re a target of bullying, I want you to understand that not everything that happens is your burden to carry.
Anytime you make unnecessary apologies, you’re taking responsibility for things that aren’t your fault. And when you give bullies apologies that are undeserved, you take accountability for their deplorable behavior.
Also, you only make others around you believe that you really are in the wrong when, in fact, the bullies are the guilty ones. You only make it so much easier for your bullies to shirk responsibility for their evil deeds. It gives the bullies the impression that they have power and control over you and that you will always surrender to them.
Even worse, people lose respect for you because it conveys a lack of confidence and gives these bullies the okay to continue bullying you. You unknowingly decrease your value and look pathetic. You send the unspoken message that you’d rather be agreeable than honest.
And whenever a situation arises that warrants a sincere apology, others will only take your apology with a grain of salt.
But when you refuse to apologize where an apology isn’t needed, it’s a sign of greater self-esteem and increased feelings of power. It also shows that you have more dignity and integrity.
It pays to know when you should and shouldn’t apologize.
And for Pete’s sake! Never apologize for feeling hurt or angry at someone else’s abuse! Never! In these situations, you have a right to feel the way you do! Let no one tell you how you should feel when you’re being treated unfairly!
Here’s a list of several things you can do to rip the mask off and keep yourself safe.
1. Know your enemy. How you do this is to stand back and always OBSERVE the people around you, but without looking like you are watching them. Pay close attention to body language, facial expressions and tone of voice. I can’t stress enough the importance of this. This is how you find out who the trouble makers are.
If you see another student gossip and make trouble for others, you can be sure that in time, they will do the same to you. This is how I now know who to avoid at all costs. However, be advised that avoidance will not work if you have a determined bully after you. If a person wants to get to you badly enough, they will seek you out until they find you.
2. Document everything! As it has been said, “if it isn’t documented, it never happened”. Keep a journal and write down everything. I did this in junior high and high school just in case one of my bullies either hurt me bad enough to hospitalize me, or worse…killed me.
You must write down the names of your bullies, the names of any bystanders or authority (teachers, principal, or any member of authority) present at the time the altercation took place, the date, time, place it happened, what happened and if possible, why it happened. Also, record what is said and by whom. Document every… single… detail!!
3. Do not reveal any information about yourself that you would not want to be told to anyone. Including your friends! If you do, you’re asking for trouble because if you are the target of a bully, you can be sure that your bullies will, at some point, either try to pry information about you out of your friends or they will turn your friends against you altogether.
4. Keep a low profile. Don’t do anything that may draw attention to yourself. And stay away from places the bullies may gather. Think, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Just don’t make it obvious to your bullies that you are ducking and dodging them. I avoided several confrontations by simply laying low.
5. Save any threatening texts, emails, and/or voice mails for evidence. And if possible, set your cellphone to record during any altercation brought on by a bully, provided it is hidden in your pocket. You certainly do not want the bully to know what you are doing. keep your composure and be sure not to tarnish the recording by yelling or using foul language.
Schools are now becoming more aware of the issue of bullying. If you happen not to have a cellphone, keep a digital recorder handy (if possible) and be ready to record as soon as the torment starts.
6. NEVER brag about any evidence you have against a bully. Not even to your best friend…PERIOD! Again, bullies have a knack for prying information out of people, even your friends. They can also turn your friends against you, making them more than happy to volunteer the information. Don’t do it! Anytime you are a target of bullies, you are in no position to trust anyone!
7. Call the bully out in front of an audience. This is risky and could bring retaliation. However, the bully will also know that you are on to him/her and you just might intimidate them enough that they will leave you alone. It happened for me on a few occasions.
But keep in mind that this doesn’t happen for everyone. Calling the bully out in front of people can also humiliate the bully and make that person more determined to get you. So access the bully’s personality and the situation carefully before you decide to do this.
If you’re a target of bullying, people will naturally expect you not to open your mouth about the harassment. Not only your bullies themselves but often bystanders and authority will automatically side with the bullies.
But, it still doesn’t mean that you stay silent because standing up for yourself shows bravery and strength and you’re well within your rights to do so.
However, I want you to be prepared for the following hurtful responses you’re likely to get when you finally do begin speaking against the mistreatment.
Here they are:
1. “You’re being too sensitive.” Understand that when people respond this way, they’re only shifting the blame to you and trying to shame you into keeping quiet about it. People who tell you this might be friends or followers of the bullies or have a personal interest in keeping you quiet, such as the reputation of the school or company, the bullies may be kin to them somehow, or the bullies may be perceived as “good for the school’s or company’s reputation.” But don’t be ashamed to speak out. You must keep the pressure on even if the bullying gets worse. Understand that things usually get worse before they get better. But they will get better.
2. “Just Ignore Them.” This never works, as bullies only become angry at being ignored and escalate the bullying. Or, they may mistake ignoring for fear. And if a bully gets in your face, how do you ignore that? It’s impossible. The best way to handle it is to put your hand up and walk around the bully. But how do you know the bully won’t come after you and attack you from behind once you’ve walked past them?
Understand that when people tell you to ignore the bully, what this means is that they either don’t want to hear about it, don’t want to have to deal with it, or don’t have any answers themselves.
3. “Toughen up.” Again. The people who could help you don’t want to get involved. So they put it all on you. By telling you to toughen up, they’re shifting the blame onto you and trying to shame you into staying silent. Also, when you tell a target to toughen up, you’re only asking for things between the target and bully to escalate because the target will take it as a green light to tell the bully to shove it up his you-know-where or haul off and knock the idiot’s block off. Not that it’s a bad thing because, in my opinion, bullies deserve a good whack in the nose.
But those in authority have no right to tell the target to toughen up, then turn around and punish him when he finally does.
Respond to this by saying, “No. It’s not about toughing up. It’s about asserting my right to be treated with decency and I don’t have to take that mess.” And when you say it, say it with conviction.
4. “Get over it.”
5. “Don’t be a crybaby.”
6. “Stop whining.”
7. “Don’t be a tattletale.”
All of the above nuggets of advice are only meant to shame and silence you. Bullying is no different from any other form of abuse. It thrives on secrecy. If you don’t speak out about it, the bullying and abuse will only continue, even escalate.
I realize that getting these kinds of responses makes you feel even worse and there’s a temptation to clam up and burrow back into your hole. But don’t! You must refuse to keep quiet about it!
Keep speaking out about it. When people give you any of the above responses, that’s when you should only double down, dig your heels in and speak louder! Because only when a problem is addressed does it have the potential to be solved.
It may get worse before it gets better, but there’s always a chance that it will get better when you verbally protest the bullying. And no matter the outcome, you’ll feel so much better about yourself knowing you took a stand.