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:
Any joke you fell, no matter how funny it may be, will be considered unfunny.
Any self-deprecating humor will be seen as your having no self-confidence or being mentally unstable.
Any sarcasm will be taken literally.
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.
Any positive statements or compliments will be seen as kissing up or an attempt to score points with the recipient.
Any self-confidence and good self-esteem will be perceived as being pompous, arrogant, and full of yourself.
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.
If you smile, they’ll think you’re plotting something.
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 to make your escape and move on to a better and more positive environment.
It always starts subtly. Bullies start rumors by dropping a suggestion. And all it takes is one little rumor- just one! Because people will want to believe it.
If enough people do, it will become the truth even if it is a bald-faced lie. And there’s no getting away from public opinion no matter how false or unjustified it is.
Bullies ruin targets by making things up, leaking info they hear, or spreading ideas. Next, the bullies will fade into the background because they know that with everything put together, the rumor or whatever lie they spread will stick. They’ve done their part, and now they can sit back and let the rumor mill do the work for them. It’s that easy!
Let’s break it down.
The bullies start by suggesting that the target would be better off if he/she got professional help, moved, etc . They will say that it’s for his (the target’s) own good.
They may then drop an offhand comment here and another there.
In the beginning, the target may have friends and be very well-liked. And these friends may try to support the victim and speak on his behalf, but that’s when the bullies will tell them, “Oh, no. There’s more to it than what he told you.” Or, the bullies may lie to the friends by telling them that sometime in the past, the target criticized them (the friends) or stabbed them in the back.
Now it’s time for the bullies to stand back and let the old rumor mill do its handiwork. And, sure enough, the lies become the truth. People begin reporting things to the bullies and higher-ups in the social hierarchy- even things that never happened.
And as the rumors and lies spread from person to person, the bigger they get until they sound so bizarre and outlandish they’d be fit for a horror movie.
The target might say, “Aw, but they’re my friends. They’d never do that to me. They know I’m a good person, and I have a clean reputation. All I have to do is tell them my side of things, and this stuff will go away.”
Once the rumors get around, the target’s friends will no longer believe him to be right. They’ll only think the victim is a thorn in the side with a big mouth. By the time bullying is underway, your reputation is no longer clean.
Now, everyone thinks the target never deserved any respect or friendship. The people around him also feel that the reason he was so well-liked is that he conned his way into their hearts.
They’ll say that the target put on a front, and he only weaseled his way into everyone’s good graces. The bullies and their followers may even accuse the victim of being a kiss-arse.
The target’s past wins, accomplishments, successes, or accolades will be made irrelevant. And every mistake and failure will be maximized, along with many more he didn’t make. At the same time, they’ll rewrite the victim’s history.
When you’re a target, even if others see with their own eyes evidence of your successes, friendships- anything positive, they’ll only react by claiming that you’re only a smooth-talker who’s darn good at using fake charm to manipulate others.
And the friends that your bullies turn against you? Your former friends will claim that they never liked you from the start and that they were only kind to you because they were afraid of you, felt sorry for you, or because you smooth-talked and conned them.
Your so-called friends will tell others, “who you really are.” They’ll claim that the bullies you bitched about were only reacting to your sneaky provocations, and if they ever agreed with you about your bullies, they only did so because you fooled them into it.
And telling your side of things will do no good because they’ll never believe it anyway. Your embittered friends “may have fallen for it at first,” but now they claim to “know better.”
I want you to understand that their minds are already made up and there’s no changing it.
In cases like these, it’s best just to find a way to get out of the environment altogether and never look back, and to never have anything to do with any of these people again. You owe it to yourself to kick them all to the curb.
Mobbing is bullying by large groups- it is a form of violence where either a vast majority of or whole of alumni in a school, a workforce in a workplace, a(n) entire organization, or community collectively harass and attack a single targeted individual. The mob often act under the influence of a ringleader or someone in a position of power. Mobbing almost always happens out of retaliation against a long-bullied target who became fed-up with the disrespect and cruelty and finally spoke out about or did something about it.
Mobbing has other names as well: Collective Bullying or Mass Bullying.
Remember that bullies and their followers expect the target to stay quiet about the abuse- even demand that he bow down to and submit to it. And when a targeted individual finally has enough and asserts his right to be treated as a human being, the bullies will punish him with mobbing.
Here’s a description of mobbing:
A large group of people (or mob) targets a person who opened his mouth about the bullying and abuse, and they become increasingly aggressive, and the number of attackers against the target grows until the targeted person is completely alone and stripped of power.
Group aggression, or collective bullying, serves to reinforce a shared negative view of the targeted person regardless of the victim’s prior value or reputation. As vicious gossip circulates throughout the environment about the target, destructive labels and damaging accusations will ensue and only isolate the target.
The mob will expand to include several teachers and school staff, or managers on many levels and large numbers of students or coworkers. People who are often peaceful and kind are encouraged to resent or hate the targeted person. A bully in power directs them to gossip about the person and to mistreat and bully him. Even the sweetest, most compassionate people can suddenly become mean and nasty.
And, one by one, the entire student body, workplace, or community judges, slanders, and accuses the target of one thing after another, and after another.
Understand that, in these cases, those who are generally good, kind people won’t see themselves as mean or as participants in bullying but rather, as defenders against an (alleged) evil enemy. They view their own atrocious behavior as justified and necessary because to see themselves as bullying participants goes against their sense of decency.
Understand that people will always act differently when they’re in a group. Always! Because they feel they must conform. Also, understand that once bullying escalates to mobbing, it’s nearly impossible to stop.
And the reason why it’s the most damaging to a target is that he quickly loses support as more and more people jump on the hate bandwagon, until everyone avoids, defames, and blames the mark for any tiny thing that goes wrong.
School staff, the management, or community authorities then close ranks, thereby eliminating any help or escape from the abuse.
Sadly, there isn’t much you can do once the violence has escalated to this point. But in the next post, I will talk about mobbing in more detail. I’ll talk about the steps, stages, and signs that bullying is heading toward mobbing and how you can name it, describe it and raise your chances of heading the bullying off before it gets that far.
“Reputation is the cornerstone of power.” – Robert Greene
Simply put, bullies attack your reputation to strip you of power. Once your reputation is gone, you’re defenseless and extremely vulnerable to attack. Bullies can freely attack you from all directions. Even worse, you’re at the mercy of virtually everyone around you.
Bullies know that if they can poke holes in your reputation, they won’t have to work so hard to bring you down because now, they have public opinion on their side. They can then stand back and watch with glee as widely held perceptions of you finish you off.
To start, bullies will plant seeds of doubt about your character in the minds of others. Doubt is a powerful tool.
Next, they spread rumors and lies.
Bullies are proof that offense is the best defense. Drawing first blood is always best because the target can only respond in either one of two ways.
1. He could deny the rumors, even produce evidence that proves his innocence of the accusations. Or,
2. He could ignore the lies and blow his accusers off with a “whatever” and walk away laughing.
Either way, people will still look at the target with suspicion.
1. If the target defends himself and produces evidence to the contrary, the prevailing thought will be,
“There must be some truth to the rumors, otherwise he wouldn’t be defending himself so vehemently.”
2. If he ignores the lies and waves his accusers away with a laugh, others will be even more suspicious of him because they’ll think that he has something to hide and is only playing it cool.
Bullies know that if they instigate rumors the right way, there’s a possibility that they can get the target so enraged and rattled that while defending himself, he ends up making a truckload of mistakes.
And if the target hasn’t yet established a reputation, the smear campaign will only work all the more in the bullies’ favor.
And the sad fact is this:
Two different people can do the exact same thing the exact same way. And each person’s reputation will decide whether the action is brilliant or terrible.
Put simpler. It’s not what you do. It’s who you are when you do it. It’s not the action itself, but who the person is that does it.
A person who’s well-liked and has a stellar reputation can write an essay, and others will deem it a brilliant piece.
But let a person who’s despised by everyone and has a lousy reputation write the exact same essay, and others will only view it as a worthless piece of garbage that’s not even worth reading, which brings me to the final conclusion:
Reputation can affect all areas of your life. It can be the difference between having success or failure- in everything!
But there’s hope.
Although extremely difficult, you can still salvage your reputation and change your life for the better. Here’s how.
1. Move to a different area. Sometimes you must go somewhere else and start over again. It may be difficult to leave your family behind, but if you stay in the town where people judge you unfavorably, you’ll never have the chance to move forward and will always be stuck right where you are. Why not pack your things and leave for greener pastures.
2. Find a good cause to fight for and that you’re passionate about. Any time you fight for a good cause, you will meet like-minded people who are fighting for the same purpose.
The cause could be “The Me Too Movement,” “The Victim’s Rights Movement,” or even “The Anti-Bullying Movement.” Whatever the cause, you will attract those who are fighting for the same things. And you’ll easily make positive connections with them and become life-long friends.
Although many doors get slammed shut and locked, there’s always a way out if you look for it. I guarantee it!
It’s bad enough when bullies mistreat you themselves. But when they set out to prevent you from becoming friends with people besides them, that’s even worse.
Socially and relational bullies are like obsessive exes who won’t allow you to move on from the hurt. They deliberately try to isolate you to wield power over you and make you believe that you need them- that you need their approval to live a happy life.
Another goal is to instill shame in you and make you believe you somehow deserve to be bullied. Bullies also do this to isolate you so that they can more safely continue, even escalate their attacks. If the bullies can turn everyone else against you, then you’re least likely to get support, and they’re least likely to be held responsible for their behavior.
Bullies use socio-relational aggression for many reasons, a couple of which are to get back at you for a perceived slight or intense jealousy of your good relations with others.
Bullies reap other psychological benefits, as well. They get gratification and satisfaction in seeing you alienated from everyone else. Also, your isolation serves them as proof that you’re a terrible person. Bullies always have to be right about you.
Understand that these types of bullies observe you very carefully. They keep track of you to find out who you associate with, who you date, even who your family members are. They also dig up information about your life.
When they find out who your friends are, they then tell your friends lies about you or will threaten to harm your friends if they catch them having any more to do with you. Bullies will also mistreat your partner and even go after your family. You must realize that bullies thrive on fear, and, as I’ve already mentioned, their goal is to isolate you and make you more vulnerable. They cut you off from any protection or assistance.
Once they have succeeded in alienating you, they can bully you at will and with impunity. Bullies can also keep you silent about the abuse. If you have no one to talk to- if no one will listen to you, then there’s no way you can speak out about them or their abuse without getting rebuffed or ridiculed.
In short, social and relational bullying reaps the following rewards for bullies:
• Silence of the target • the freedom to abuse anytime they want • protection • confirmation of the target’s unworthiness • favor with others • immunity from accountability • gratification, satisfaction, and, most of all, overall power and domination of the target!
Knowledge is power, so get wise to your bullies. It’s the first step in protecting yourself from them.
Gossip is purely judgmental and includes hasty generalizations about the target’s character and private life, which has nothing to do with the school, community, or workplace. The purpose of gossip is to control the target’s status by demoting the target on the social hierarchy.
Another purpose of gossip is to justify any punishment of the target by promoting a collective view that the victim doesn’t deserve respect, dignity, or humanity, but only abuse and hostility.
And once a target is viewed to deserve abuse, others will always escalate it!
Gossip has another benefit. It tightens group connections, gives higher status to the people who are privy to the negative information, and sets expectations and norms in the group as to how they should treat the target.
Through gossip, the group establishes, maintains, or changes social infrastructures. Gossip promotes unity and shared negative perceptions of the target. With the use of it, the group will foster justification for hostility. Therefore, no one in the group considers their actions as bullying. They will only say that the target “deserves it” and say they were reacting to “an evil enemy.”
People tell others to keep it secret, but they also ask them to inform the group of any new information and updates that concern their target.
Realize that it serves to provide bullies reaffirmations that their perceptions of the target are correct, that the target deserves abuse.
Gossipers will often cover their bad behavior with a slight confession of guilt by beginning their sentences with things like,
“I know I shouldn’t say this, but…”
“Bless her heart…”
They will acknowledge that the target is a human being, but only because this gives them the green light to go on talking and helps them to feel less like the creeps they are.
It’s true that reputation doesn’t equal character. But understand that the rumors may, in fact, be false and there may be zero credible evidence to back them up. But if pure speculation best fits the bullies’ goals, that’s what they will go along with.
In the late stages of gossip, all bystanders will become willing co-conspirators. Gossip brings scandal, which means to assassinate the target’s character, integrity, mental fitness, and worth as a student, worker, neighbor, or human being.
Anyone who questions or disbelieves the lies will immediately become an object of bullying as well. Nobody wants to be isolated, so this forces others to stay in line with the running narrative.
And if the target attempts to defend himself or speak out against the abuse, it will be used against him.
Unfortunately, at this stage, the only way for the target to ensure his safety and escape the abuse is to leave the toxic environment and go to a new place where he can start anew, establish new connections, and reinvent himself.
Remember the character, Chris Chambers, in the movie “Stand by Me.” Although he was a great kid, he was considered a rogue and a thief. Remember the scene where he was crying to his friend, Gordy, telling him about how he got his bad name, and wishing he could go somewhere where no one knew him.
And sadly, in a majority of cases, targets must leave the school, company, or community to heal and to rebuild their lives.
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 reasons that mobbing is so hard to remedy is because 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, and begins to have 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.