The most insidious thing about being a victim of bullying is the loss of opportunities to meet new people and the inability to move on with new friends. When bullies and their drones have unjustly slandered or libeled you, even total strangers will no doubt hear of you, and chances are, they will automatically have their minds made up about you before they get a chance to meet you. Sadly, this is one feature of bullying that crosses very few people’s minds.
What’s even scarier is that you are left completely defenseless against any attack these strangers may bring because you haven’t the slightest idea who they are. How do you know who to watch out for? How do you know who to avoid? It’s impossible to protect yourself from invisible enemies.
It is a situation in which you are walking blind, which is very dangerous! You cannot see the enemy. Someone could walk right up to you on the street, in broad daylight, with a weapon hidden on them and you would never know of their intent to hurt or kill you until it was too late.
Remember. We lost the Vietnam War because we didn’t know who the enemy was. We didn’t know exactly who was or wasn’t on our side!
It’s the same when you are a victim of bullying, especially if you live in a rural area where everyone knows everyone. Once your tarnished reputation reaches far and wide, there will be times when you won’t know who is coming for you and it will be as if you are fighting ghosts.
Sadly, in these cases, the bullying has for so long gone on that your reputation in the community has become ironclad, and there isn’t much you can do to change it. Therefore, the best you can do to better your life is to move away and get a fresh start in a new town. It may be the only way you will find happiness and stability.
It’s true. If you’re a target of bullying, your bullies more than likely don’t consciously know why they hate you. So, what do they do? They make up reasons.
And the reasons they make up arise from confabulations and hasty generalizations. The reasons also come from long-standing rumors that turn into myths. These myths may have been around for years- even decades. When a myth or generalization has been the narrative long enough, it goes unquestioned and takes on a life of its own. It’s “just the way it is.” As a result, people become “biased” against the target.
When bullies and others are biased against a person, they accept any myth as truth, and this bias keeps bullies wound up and ready to hurt the target. Bias blinds people and claims to know the truth about a person or group of people without concrete evidence or firsthand knowledge.
People support biases with stereotypes, which are only lies and opinions repeated so often and for so long until society accepts them as the truth.
But know this. If you’re a target of bullies, although others may tag you with labels that don’t apply to you, you don’t have to accept them nor let them define who you are. Only you can define yourself. Nobody else can do it for you. Understand that nobody knows the inner you but you.
Know that you have the power to accept or reject labels. Use that power. Reject your bullies’ definitions of you. Bullies may have a degree of control over your surroundings and, yes, even your physical well-being. They may also control how others view you.
But they can never control what you think of yourself. Bullies can’t control your mind and thoughts without your permission. That power belongs to you and you alone.
Mobbing is THE severest form of bullying. Once the bullying reaches the stage of mobbing, this is when the bullying becomes life-threatening! And if you’ve ever been a target of it, you know firsthand how destructive it is.
The reason that mobbing is so hard to remedy is that not only has it already rendered us so distraught that we’re unable to think clearly, but we aren’t able to name, describe, nor communicate the steps bullies take to destroy us.
A successful smear campaign is started by a bully or bullies who are well-practiced in the arts of persuasion and influence and can last for years.
Here’s something I want you to realize. A smear campaign is nowhere near as tricky as it looks. You’d be amazed at just how simple it is to smear someone. It’s so easy that it shouldn’t be so effective, but it is!
To quote the old Geico commercial, it’s “so easy; a caveman can do it.”
Here’s a chronological, step-by-step recap of how bullies do it and succeed at it:
1. The bullies have a dislike for a specific individual who refuses to conform to their standard of who she should be.
Now all this time, the bullies have been able to influence everyone else and get them to submit to their will and every whim. Then, low and behold, along comes the target (we’ll call her “Cindy”) who’s stubborn and either unable to or won’t submit to the bullies’ control and allow them to change her personality into what they think it should be.
And Cindy may not realize the bullies’ motives and that just by doing her thing, she’s enraging the bullies. So, she goes on about her business, makes plans for her future, makes achievement after achievement, and maybe she gets loads of positive attention and praise from others because she’s so successful and well-liked.
2. Next, the bullies begin to smear Cindy. To implement their smear campaign, they watch Cindy, studying her behavior carefully until they’re able to anticipate her reactions.
3. The bullies then train their audience (i.e., the other classmates or coworkers to expect a specific type of behavior out of Cindy. They point out these behaviors when they occur. The bullies then associate Cindy’s completely innocent behavior with something bad or evil.
For example, let’s say that Cindy is sweet, playful, and likes to engage in a little banter. The bullies watch as Cindy banters with people in the school or workplace. She playfully calls someone a “dummy” or a “goofball,” but others know that it’s all for harmless jokes and think it’s funny because Cindy is a genuinely kind person.
4. So, the bullies begin making offhand comments. They remark that Cindy’s kindness is only an attempt to kiss ass because she wants something from people and that she thinks the people around her really are dummies, but only disguises it under a veil of fun jokes and playfulness.
The bullies also make statements that Cindy thinks she’s cute and that Cindy thinks she’s smarter than everyone else. Then repeat, repeat, repeat!
To quote a propaganda minister to a well-known dictator in history, “Tell a lie once, and it remains a lie. Tell a lie a thousand times, and it becomes the truth.”
5. The next time others see Cindy being kind to and playfully bantering with someone, she doesn’t look so cute, and the banter isn’t so funny anymore. Now people see a side of Cindy they can’t believe they never noticed before.
6. Now feeling smug with gratification, the bullies look at themselves, then at Cindy with smirks on their crooked faces and try the same thing all over again.
7. And before you know it, everyone wonders what they ever saw in Cindy, to begin with. They start having negative feelings toward the poor girl.
8. Cindy begins to pick up on the negative vibes around her and withdraws a little. She doesn’t speak to people as much as she did and doesn’t understand what she did or said to bring it all about. The bullies notice that Cindy is more distant than usual, and they point this out to everyone.
“Hey, look! Do you see that? Now, what did we tell you? Cindy really does think we’re all dummies! She really does think she’s smarter than the rest of us!”
“And her ass-kissing (Cindy’s sweet disposition) didn’t work, so now she’s too good to speak to anyone!”
9. Cindy’s withdrawal only inflames everyone’s feelings of dislike and resentment. Although her becoming distant is only out of self-protection, others mistake it for smugness and arrogance.
10. And it only snowballs from there, getting worse and worse over time. Understand that people are human, and they make mistakes. They misjudge innocent others all the time.
And when bullies condition the whole of a group, school, organization, workplace, or community to see any quality in a particular person as a bad thing, a smear campaign is most effective. So everyone, even those who aren’t bullies and are otherwise kind and compassionate, can become extremely cold and cruel to a target. And everyone repeats the same cruelty, over and over again.
Understand that smear campaigns are just too effective because they can quickly become bullying, then escalate to mobbing, which is the most severe kind of bullying. And once it increases to mobbing, it’s unstoppable, and the only way you can take your life back is to leave that toxic, poisonous environment altogether.
…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 its 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 doing 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!”
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 that they and 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.
Realize 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 reaches 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!
As a young, Jewish girl who immigrated to the United States from the Soviet Union (now Russia) during the eighties, Chava Boroda has known the worst forms of oppression, bullying, and persecution. Below is a wonderful piece she has written and it’s well worth the read. Antisemitism is on the rise in today’s hostile world and sadly, the media seems to be sparse in its coverage of it. Only when we publicly address a problem will it be solved. Congratulations, Chava!
“As a Jew, I have always felt need to be the torchbearer of light into promoting peace and tolerance” – California-based Chava Boroda.
“When I finally established my own Jewish home – I knew that my mission should’ve been enhanced though making Judaism understandable and accessible for the Jewish people, as well as non-Jewish community” – she shares in her interview about the Jewish approach toward peace and tolerance.
Kyiv-born Chava spent her childhood in an environment, where she faced antisemitism as an integral part of the Soviet ideology and mentality, which often hurt her feelings, but never her faith.
“I’ve always had a critical eye toward man-made challenges, which tend to create so many obstacles for different layers of society. Even at an early age – I made an analysis that antisemitism often derives from ignorance among gentiles, who have almost no information about what Judaism is and who the Jews are”.
After arriving in the United States, Chava was taught about peace-building and tackling hate speech through education and activism. “Do not hate what you do not understand” – were the words that she cultivated into her thinking and used as a guide to establishing bridges between the Jews and non-Jews. Nevertheless, she has a mission to educate Jews themselves about their inspiring story spanning over and not limited to the middle ages, migration routes, Shtetls, Holocaust, or their struggle to establish the State of Israel.
“I knew that I had to make a move and bring education to non-Jews about Judaism. Especially after bringing five children into this world – I had a firm belief to ensure that generation of my children and children to come would not face antisemitism caused by ignorance toward the Jewish people”. Ever since her children were small, she has provided them with Jewish upbringing, but also fostered the development of their creative energy and talents in the secular world.
As a proud Jew, Chava has spent the last 25 years making Judaism appealing for all. Apart from working with non-Jews, she has a profound desire to bring all the Jewish communities together by embracing their unique cultural traits and peculiarities.
“I admire the mission of the YAD VASHEM in the world in maintaining the memory of the Holocaust among billions of people worldwide. There is one particular aspect of YAD VASHEM, which I have incorporated into my work and goals – stressing out the importance of the Righteous of the Nations, who saved Jews from the atrocities and often risked their lives”. She believes that if more gentiles had been educated about Judaism pre-WWII – then more people would stand up for their Jewish neighbors or compatriots. The latter argumentation is the sole factor for her work toward promoting tolerance and raising generations who will dare to speak out if they witness discrimination of antisemitism.
Chava has worked with thousands of young people in North America, Israel, and former Soviet Union space educating them about her Refusenik past, as well as raising awareness about promoting peace and understanding between people of various ethnic or religious backgrounds. In her mentoring efforts with young people, Chava cultivates tolerance as a fundamental identity.
“My inspiration derives from Abraham, the first Jew, who is recognized as a prophet by all three Abrahamic religions in the world.” She fully aligns herself with the ideas of the United Nations that “diversity is a form of wealth, not a factor of division”.
Chava sees great potential in the post-COVID 19 era, which has the potential of bringing more empathy among people, who have been witnessing how the whole world has fallen in the same boat against the pandemic. She hopes that more people will look through the “we the people” prism toward the need to build more accepting societies.
“With ongoing clashes between the police and public in the United States – it has become more obvious that educating people about peace and tolerance between all shall be an integral part of educating as early as kindergarten. Ever since I step my foot in the United States at age 14 and as a political refugee from the USSR, I made a realization, which inspires my work every day – diversity is a strength and not a weakness. Tolerance is always nurtured and I am excited to continue my daily work in the digital era and with all the age groups” – Chava shares.
Bullying becomes Chronic when the bullying has gone on over time and has escalated such that it has now reached a dangerous level. In short, bullying has reached epic proportions.
When there’s Chronic Bullying, bullies have skyrocketed the torment and pursue their targets obsessively and non-stop. In a case of Chronic Bullying, the bullies’ behavior has gone ignored and unaddressed by authority, and the bullies have become so brazen and encouraged that their actions have grown in strength, frequency, and cruelty over several years.
The bullies’ apathy toward the victim grows to a point where they lose all empathy and come to feel nothing but blind hatred and fury toward the target. The attitude has now become that anything they do to the victim, no matter how cruel or how dangerous is good because, to the bullies, the victim has no value, and his life is worth nothing.
People who bully to these extremes usually have followers and minions backing them up. And they enlist members of their following to do their dirty work. It is when the bullying becomes so significant, so ingrained, and so severe that it seemingly takes on a life of its own.
The bullies are seemingly drunk on hate, and the bullying and torment of you seem to be all the bullies can focus on.
Instead of the bullies controlling their evil emotions and actions, their feelings and actions begin to control them! The bullies are controlled by hatred and blinded by senseless rage. They have become so addicted to the power and control over another human being that the bullying becomes constant for the bullies to get their fix and maintain the high that the power over the target gives them.
Understand that when bullying becomes chronic, bullies don’t see the target as a human being, they see him as so worthless and inferior that, in their minds, the target doesn’t deserve the time of day, much less any respect. As far as the bullies are concerned, the target doesn’t even deserve to breathe the same air as them! Even worse- the target doesn’t deserve to breathe, period!
This is why chronic bullying can be especially dangerous to the target because the victim runs the chance of either breaking and committing suicide or being murdered by their bullies.
This is why it’s so important to get out anytime bullying becomes chronic. Get out of that environment- transfer to another school, go to work for another company or move to another area.
Because once bullying becomes chronic, it becomes so out of control that it takes on a life all it’s own. There’s no stopping it at this stage.
The only way you’ll ever find peace is to leave without telling anyone. Only then will you be safe and have peace of mind.
Bullies with “Target Derangement Syndrome” hold extremely biased opinions about their targets- views that aren’t founded or developed from any evidence of facts. No, their judgments of the targets come from intense emotions alone. And no amount of data, substantial evidence, rational thought, or reason will ever change their minds about their target. These people are virtually unpersuadable.
I want you to realize that seeing the target as bad, evil, crazy, mentally imbalanced, weak, and inferior is too familiar to the bullies. It is the status quo. And it often takes someone who’s outside the toxic environment or bully/target dynamic to see the stuff those on the inside are blind to. Why do you think bullies also go out of their way to destroy the target’s reputation with strangers who haven’t yet met the target?
Understand that these bullies have overinflated egos. And the false stories and widely-held assumptions about the target provide the bullies these three benefits: a sense of power, dominance, and social acceptance. And any evidence that exonerates the target only threatens those three benefits.
The target may, in fact, be a great person who would be a great friend to them if they allowed. But bullies will block out that reality because it’s uncomfortable to them and would contradict them. They deliberately eschew any evidence that favors the target- and therefore, any truth to it because anything that proves contrary to their beliefs and opinions of their targeted victim would never fit their narratives.
Any evidence that disproves the bullies’ false narratives put the bullies at risk of being proven wrong and looking like the utter fools they are. Bullies won’t have that! Because it would be a massive blow to their fragile egos. Any facts in favor of the target, the bullies will either explain away, ignore, or destroy.Simply put. Not knowing the truth feels much better to them.
It’s why bullies purposefully keep themselves unaware of any proof that would be in favor of the target. Bullies go to great lengths to avoid being informed because they don’t want to be informed. If the target is such a great guy, the bullies don’t want to know about it! It’s much more convenient (and less painful) to hold onto their opinions- even if those opinions are false.
And if they hear much to the contrary, the bullies will then go hunt for evidence and information that supports their opinions.
They aren’t willing to engage in any thoughtful or intelligent discussion on it. If you try and hold such a discussion, you’re only wasting your time and energy, because if the opinions they hold come strictly from their negative emotions, you won’t change their minds. And it’s not your job to do so!
Deep down inside, your bullies know your potential and your worth. They already know how intelligent and creative you are. They’ve seen that you’re a team player, and you get along with a few others. They’ve seen how loving and caring you are. They know that you’re a great person; only they refuse to acknowledge it. So, is there a need to defend your honor in their presence? Everything about you speaks for itself.
If you’re a target of bullying, it’s tempting to defend yourself because it’s so hard to believe that anyone could be this deaf, dumb, and blind. So, you ask yourself, “Can anyone be this stupid?”
I hate to tell you. But, yes, they can. And they are!
The best thing you can do is to give these bullies the old heave-ho! Don’t even engage with them. They aren’t worth it! They’re only a waste of space.
Understand that getting rid of these people will save you so much time, energy, and mental stress. It will allow you to be so much happier and more confident in yourself than you ever thought possible!