Targets Never Become Targets Overnight

Be very careful. Any time bullies select a potential target, they start out subtle and sweet with their bullying. They test the waters first- always. If the target overlooks their behavior, they move on to more obvious verbal abuse.

Here’s what verbal abuse does. It conditions the target to put up with abuse without them even knowing it. And bullies do it in tiny bites.

The target is unaware of the incremental, bit-by-tiny-bit eroding of their self-esteem. Because the process is so slow, it’s barely noticeable until it’s gone so far that it’s out of control. And by then, it’s too late.

Before long, the target is then blamed for the bullies’ bad behavior and is now a victim. Understand that the motto of bullies is, “might makes right.”

The best way to empower yourself is by paying attention to the vibes others put out,  how you feel, maintaining a sense of your own worth, and by seeing verbal bullying for what it is.

I learned about Power Over and Personal Power when I read the book, “The Verbally Abusive Relationship,” by Patricia Evans about ten years ago.

In short, power over is what abusers use to lord over their targets and bullies are no exception here. And most bullies are desperate to keep that power because it’s the only power they can have. If there’s no target to have power over, one is created.

In her book, Patricia describes power over as the type of power that has clear winners and losers.

“Power over shows up as control and dominance. Personal power shows up as mutuality and co-creation.” (2010, Patricia Evans “The Verbally Abusive Relationship,” p. 27)

Here’s Patricia’s explanation of personal power:

“Personal power is another way of experiencing power, one which doesn’t need winners and losers., dominant people and subordinates, and which doesn’t require power over an ‘other.’ Personal power works by mutuality and co-creation and may be considered a new way of being in and perceiving the world.” (2010, Patricia Evans “The Verbally Abusive Relationship,” p. 29 para 4)

Understand that bullying is bullying whether it comes in the form of spousal abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, workplace and school abuse, or abuse of power and government tyranny. It all comes from the desire to have power over. It’s all abuse, it’s all bullying and every type of it starts out subtle- so subtle that you won’t even recognize what’s happening if you aren’t paying attention.

When we learn to recognize the subtleties, we will better be able to protect ourselves. And how we recognize subtleties is by observing and listening. We must observe body language, listen for the subtext, listen to our gut instinct, and pay close attention to how the actions of others make us feel.

And once we do, we’ll be better able to call out the behavior and spare our self-esteem from being slowly chipped away. In that, we’ll be better able to hold on to our personal power and live happier and more peaceful lives.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

6 Ways Bullies Gaslight Their Targets (Part 2)

(…Continued from Part 1)

You already know the first three ways bullies use gaslighting. Here are more of their evil tactics and what you can do to keep your self-esteem intact.

4. Isolating the Target (Divide and Conquer)
Bullies often force their targets into isolation through social aggression (spreading rumors and lies about the person or intimidating his/her associates).

In doing this, bullies strategically turn the target’s friends and associates against them to cut him/her off from any support or protection they might otherwise receive. Once the subject is isolated, the bullies then move in for the kill and take the bullying to new heights.

If the target expresses the desire to change schools or workplaces, the bullies may try to discourage him/her by convincing them that they won’t be treated any better in the new environment or attempting to block the targets’ transfer and cut off any means of escape.

5. Bullies Make Themselves Out to be Superior and Cunningly Convince the Target that he/she needs them to get along.
Bullies slyly force their target to believe he/she somehow needs their approval. If the bullies can make the target dependent on them, their power and control only increase.

Bullies do this by convincing to target that they (the bullies) are the only ones who can better his/her (the target’s) situation- that only through them (the bullies) will the person be able to make friends and enjoy positive relationships! And only with their (the bullies’) permission will the target find happiness and fulfillment.

Also, bullies make the target believe that they must submit to their every whim and wish, no matter how demeaning, before they grant him/her relief from the attacks. But understand that bullies will never leave you alone! It’s is only another tactic to assert domination!

6. Empty Promises

“If you do this, I’ll go away quietly and leave you alone.”
“If you do that, I’ll be your friend.”
“If you’d only do XYZ, I’ll make things easier for you.”

Don’t buy any of it! You can never appease a bully. They will never go away or stop the harassment. They only make empty promises to keep you under their control. Understand that bullies have an insatiable appetite for power, control, and destruction.

They are like bottomless pits, and no matter what you do to please them, they’ll only continue or increase the torment. You must realize that no amount of bullying is ever enough for a bully. Bullies are power and drama addicts, and harassment of their targets is like a drug to them. They can never get enough! Bullies always come back for more! In short, they become drunk on their own power.

The only way to stop a bully is to either use reverse psychology, put the fear of God into him/her by calling them out publicly, or go no contact if you can. If you can’t, then use the first two suggestions. It may or may not work, but keep it up. Because if you just clam up and say nothing, you’ll feel terrible about yourself later.

There are two things bullies fear most. Losing face and losing power, which would only come from having their evil exposed and and with the target ceasing to care what they say and think altogether. NOTE: When you stop caring (which can only happen after you see the bullies for the pathetic souls they really are), it’ll be so much easier to come back with a witty, one-line counter-dig and keep walking.

Another important note: DOCUMENT EVERYTHING! Write it all down in detail to keep records of this kind of stuff! You may need it!!!!!!

Jot down what happened (in detail), including date and time it happened, where it happened, who the bullies are, names of any bystanders, teachers, supervisors, etc., and if possible, why it happened (was it retaliation?)! EVERYTHING!

Find ways to expose bullies and reclaim your power.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

6 Ways Bullies Gaslight Their Targets

blame accuse pointing finger

Gaslight- to manipulate someone by psychological means into doubting their sanity.

Remember that bullying is all about domination and control. Once the bully selects a target and begins their reign of terror over the chosen victim, they will do everything possible to maintain that dominance. Also, understand that bullies get a huge psychological payoff at the victim’s expense. Abusing their targets gives bullies a rush of power and a sense of authority and control.

If there is a culture of bullying at a school, workplace, or community, bullies are also rewarded with attention, high social status and promotions from others while the target suffers the opposite. And a bully will fight like crazy to keep those benefits should the target speak out and shed light on the behavior.

Once the target sees the behavior for what it is and begins to assert their right to be treated fairly, bullies will become angry and afraid. They will see the target as a threat to their power and increase the harassment to subdue, silence and punish the person.

Seasoned bullies maintain power by emotionally abusing, brainwashing, and psychological abuse to disempower the target and make themselves seem bigger and better than what they are. They use these methods because psycho/emotional bullying leaves no physical evidence and is much easier to deny.

They do this by convincing their target (and everyone else) that he/she is defective or no good, thereby stripping the target’s confidence and self-esteem.

Here are ways bullies gaslight their targets:

1. Persistent lying
Bullies tell vague lies and trying to convince you that you are mentally unstable, less than, deserving of the mistreatment, or that you’re somehow defective. Bullies will make statements to others such as,

toxic brainwashing

“He’s a waste of space, and he needs to realize it already!”

“She’s such an embarrassment! How does she even show her face in public every day?”

“Who gives a #$% about his feelings! He doesn’t matter!”

“She brought it all on herself!”

Bullies will also tell their targets things like:

“What are you smiling about? Nobody likes you! Remember?”

“I’m not bullying you! You’re just over-reacting!”

Displeased woman looking at her growing nose and trying to stop it with her finger isolated on white background

“You’re just being (paranoid, overly sensitive, a crybaby, etc.)! You need help!”

“Nobody’s mistreating you! You’re just playing the victim to look innocent to everyone else!

“You think you’re (smart, pretty, cute, tough, cool, etc.), don’t’ you! You’re nothing!”

“You’re so (arrogant, retarded, crazy, ugly, fat, skinny, etc.) nobody believes a word you say!”

I could go on and on.

Bullies deliberately repeat these lies over and over again and for a long time to convince the target that they are right. Understand that this constant repetition has a purpose! To instill insecurity in the victim, wear them down and force him/her to resign themselves and acquiesce.

It serves to brainwash the target and force him/her to believe the bully’s lies. As a result, the target becomes riddled with confusion, social anxiety and shame. Eventually, the person loses the ability to counter the attacks

You must realize that this is the bully’s strategy to render control and keep the target under their control and from rebelling against the abuse.

2. Wearing the Target Down and forcing him/her to agree with them.
Bullies continue to put the target down and marginalize them until he/she is so tired or afraid of defending against them that the person shuts down, grows numb to the abuse and surrenders to the bullies.

Bullying, friendship and people concept. Girl patronizing screaming pointing finger at shy timid nerdy woman who is looking down

3. Become Highly Aggressive When the Target Calls Out the Abuse
Bullies may try to maintain their power by intensifying and escalating the attacks in addition to blaming and shaming the target. Understand that this is designed to subdue and further subjugate the person by intimidation and to force him/her into silence and submission. It also allows the bully to escape accountability and to have a green light for continued and future attacks.

(More to come in Part 2…)

What School Bullies Really Want to Say to Targets Who Stand Up to Them (Part 3)

Jealous Girls taking behind her back

(Continued from Part 3…)

Here are more ways we bullies assert and reinforce control over targets who step out of line.

3. We spread rumors and lies about the target. That’s right! We’ll demonize him. And he won’t even know about it until it’s too late and enough people are itching to take him apart. We’ll sow discord between him and all the other classmates. Hell! Even the teachers! We’ll make him public enemy number one!

Get this straight. All we have to do to demonize our target is to throw around a few offhand remarks and loaded words.

‘You see? We’ve been best friends since kindergarten, and some of us since we were babies. We are a family. We keep each other’s darkest secrets and fiercely protect each other, which means we cover each other’s butts.

Our parents know each other, and we have connections to quite a few city officials and local big shots. Everyone knows us and they love us- very much! We’re in cahoots with the right people and they tell us everything.

bullying bullied

Nothing is private. Not in this school and not in this town. This high school is our kingdom. And it’s crawling with lackeys, suck-ups, and wannabes. These people straddle the fence and they’re the ones he’ll least expect.

And he messed with one of us, so he messed with all of us!

4. Make him do degrading things with the promise of acceptance and inclusion. By this time, we’ll have him so rejected, alone and alienated that he’ll sell his soul to the devil just to get a crumb of acceptance. So, why not give him something to strive toward? Make him do something stupid. And trust us, we’re creative! We’re inventive!

We’ll think of something so humiliating and degrading! We’ll set him up to look pathetic, and we’ll film it for the entire free world to see. And he’ll never be able to get away from it.

We’ll also set him up to get in trouble with the principal by baiting him into a few fights. We’ll get in his face. One of us might even throw the first punch and force him to hit back, and then we’ve got him. We’ll all band together and say he started it, cook up a good story, and he’ll be the one blamed.

And what will be the icing on the cake is that after everyone finishes blaming and punishing the target, they’ll give us sympathy for being victimized by such a monster.

bullying ridicule

That’s just life at the high school. Some matter and some don’t. And if a target tries to defend himself, he’s just defensive, a whiner, or he’s crazy.
But those rules don’t apply to us because we can do no wrong. Remember. We’re royals. And the double-standards we held our target to are beneficial to us. Don’t be surprised and don’t catch an attitude. You’d do the same thing if you were one of us.

5. We fantasize about the target transferring to another school or, even better, killing himself. Seriously, we do. But then again, we really don’t want that because, if he did either one, all the fun would end and it would be game over. We need our target to stick around so that we can continue getting our jollies and free entertainment.

We prefer to make things worse on our target slowly and gradually and drag it out for as long as possible. We’ll enjoy watching him withdraw from everyone, lose his appetite, lose weight, get sick, and shake from nervousness. And we know he will snap sooner or later.

We may be high school kids, but we’re far from stupid. We learned the laws of human nature early. How do you think we got so darned popular with kids and adults alike and rose to the top of the social totem pole? We knew the rules of the social game long before most people knew how to use the bathroom by themselves!

bullied snapped driven crazy

We also know that no one can keep that kind of pressure stuffed down inside forever. It’s impossible. Eventually, the target will explode. It always works better that way. And when he does blow up, we can only hope he does it in front of an audience.

We’re already building a case against the target. We can pick out small incidents, take them out of context, and spin them to make it bigger. We can craft a pattern out of them and make it look like evidence that is so damning.

Sure. Like, love and attractiveness are all subjective, but the system and social dynamic are rigged in our favor.

6. We would love nothing more than to beat the ever-loving crap out of our target but don’t want to risk getting caught. We’re too smart to do something so obvious and we don’t want to get our hands dirty. We’d much rather pick the creep apart in front of everyone and use his words against him. His intentions don’t matter. A screw-up is a screw-up and we’ll stick it to him. We’ll do it under the guise of friendly advice, the stealthier way to attack.

7. Pit what friends the target has against him. If we can’t turn his friends against him any other way, we’ll attack them too. We’ll accuse his friend of being in on the target’s little rebellion. Why should we do the dirty work ourselves when we have peer pressure on our side?

shame humiliate banish

His friends will then blame him for dragging them into it and causing them to become targets. They won’t care to hear any explanations or justifications. They’ll just want their lives back and they’ll ostracize and gang up on him to make that happen. Cause and effect is such a beautiful thing! Why not use it to your advantage?

8. Send henchmen to commit our violence for us. As much as we’d love to beat the target’s brains out with our bare hands, we’re too smart to get blood on our hands. In fact, we won’t even be there.

bullying fighting physical

We’ll just send some roughneck or a group of them to kick his tail for us. And why not? We’re the kings and queens of the school. Offer the right incentives and we can get anybody to do anything we want them to do.

Even better, we’ll get the toughest guy with the worst reputation and put a bug in his ear. We’ll make him think that the target is trying to put the moves on his girl. Then we won’t have to offer him anything in return.

It won’t matter what the truth is or whether the target even knows the girl. Because we have all the power, connections and trust, just our names and our word is golden.

The target gets his head kicked in and gets a ride in an ambulance. We fade into the woodwork. And if things get too hairy, we just let the tough guy take the fall! And if tough-guy tells the cops that we put him up to it, do you think they’ll believe him?

Brilliant, huh?

School Bullies’ Unspoken Message to Targets Who Dare to Stand Up to Them (Part 3)

Jealous gossip back stabber bullying

Jealous Girls taking behind her back

Here are more ways we bullies assert and reinforce control over targets who step out of line.

3. We spread rumors and lies about the target. That’s right! We’ll demonize him. And he won’t even know about it until it’s too late and enough people are itching to take him apart. We’ll sow discord between him and all the other classmates. Hell! Even the teachers! We’ll make him public enemy number one!

Get this straight. All we have to do to demonize our target is to throw around a few offhand remarks and loaded words.

‘You see? We’ve been best friends since kindergarten, and some of us since we were babies. We are a family. We keep each other’s darkest secrets and fiercely protect each other, which means we cover each other’s butts.

Our parents know each other, and we have connections to quite a few city officials and local big shots. Everyone knows us and they love us- very much! We’re in cahoots with the right people and they tell us everything.

bullying bullied

Nothing is private. Not in this school and not in this town. This high school is our kingdom. And it’s crawling with lackeys, suck-ups, and wannabes. These people straddle the fence and they’re the ones he’ll least expect.

And he messed with one of us, so he messed with all of us!

4. Make him do degrading things with the promise of acceptance and inclusion. By this time, we’ll have him so rejected, alone and alienated that he’ll sell his soul to the devil just to get a crumb of acceptance. So, why not give him something to strive toward? Make him do something stupid. And trust us, we’re creative! We’re inventive!

We’ll think of something so humiliating and degrading! We’ll set him up to look pathetic, and we’ll film it for the entire free world to see. And he’ll never be able to get away from it.

We’ll also set him up to get in trouble with the principal by baiting him into a few fights. We’ll get in his face. One of us might even throw the first punch and force him to hit back, and then we’ve got him. We’ll all band together and say he started it, cook up a good story, and he’ll be the one blamed.

And what will be the icing on the cake is that after everyone finishes blaming and punishing the target, they’ll give us sympathy for being victimized by such a monster.

bullying ridicule

That’s just life at the high school. Some matter and some don’t. And if a target tries to defend himself, he’s just defensive, a whiner, or he’s crazy.
But those rules don’t apply to us because we can do no wrong. Remember. We’re royals. And the double-standards we held our target to are beneficial to us. Don’t be surprised and don’t catch an attitude. You’d do the same thing if you were one of us.

5. We fantasize about the target transferring to another school or, even better, killing himself. Seriously, we do. But then again, we really don’t want that because, if he did either one, all the fun would end and it would be game over. We need our target to stick around so that we can continue getting our jollies and free entertainment.

We prefer to make things worse on our target slowly and gradually and drag it out for as long as possible. We’ll enjoy watching him withdraw from everyone, lose his appetite, lose weight, get sick, and shake from nervousness. And we know he will snap sooner or later.

We may be high school kids, but we’re far from stupid. We learned the laws of human nature early. How do you think we got so darned popular with kids and adults alike and rose to the top of the social totem pole? We knew the rules of the social game long before most people knew how to use the bathroom by themselves!

bullied snapped driven crazy

We also know that no one can keep that kind of pressure stuffed down inside forever. It’s impossible. Eventually, the target will explode. It always works better that way. And when he does blow up, we can only hope he does it in front of an audience.

We’re already building a case against the target. We can pick out small incidents, take them out of context, and spin them to make it bigger. We can craft a pattern out of them and make it look like evidence that is so damning.

Sure. Like, love and attractiveness are all subjective, but the system and social dynamic are rigged in our favor.

6. We would love nothing more than to beat the ever-loving crap out of our target but don’t want to risk getting caught. We’re too smart to do something so obvious and we don’t want to get our hands dirty. We’d much rather pick the creep apart in front of everyone and use his words against him. His intentions don’t matter. A screw-up is a screw-up and we’ll stick it to him. We’ll do it under the guise of friendly advice, the stealthier way to attack.

7. Pit what friends the target has against him. If we can’t turn his friends against him any other way, we’ll attack them too. We’ll accuse his friend of being in on the target’s little rebellion. Why should we do the dirty work ourselves when we have peer pressure on our side?

shame humiliate banish

His friends will then blame him for dragging them into it and causing them to become targets. They won’t care to hear any explanations or justifications. They’ll just want their lives back and they’ll ostracize and gang up on him to make that happen. Cause and effect is such a beautiful thing! Why not use it to your advantage?

8. Send henchmen to commit our violence for us. As much as we’d love to beat the target’s brains out with our bare hands, we’re too smart to get blood on our hands. In fact, we won’t even be there.

bullying fighting physical

We’ll just send some roughneck or a group of them to kick his tail for us. And why not? We’re the kings and queens of the school. Offer the right incentives and we can get anybody to do anything we want them to do.

Even better, we’ll get the toughest guy with the worst reputation and put a bug in his ear. We’ll make him think that the target is trying to put the moves on his girl. Then we won’t have to offer him anything in return.

It won’t matter what the truth is or whether the target even knows the girl. Because we have all the power, connections and trust, just our names and our word is golden.

The target gets his head kicked in and gets a ride in an ambulance. We fade into the woodwork. And if things get too hairy, we just let the tough guy take the fall! And if tough-guy tells the cops that we put him up to it, do you think they’ll believe him?

Brilliant, huh?

 

 

School Bullies’ Unspoken Message to Targets Who Dare to Stand Up to Them (Part 2)

clique bullying

So, how do we make our target submit?

Here’s how:

We make the little rebel’s life a living hell and use him as an example to the rest of the student body. But we can’t make it too visible. We must be cunning and covert! Our attacks must be deniable.

We’ll do this to teach this punk a lesson show him who’s boss while letting the other schoolmates know that this will happen to them if they dare get out of their places. You call it tit-for-tat, we call it high school justice.

Maybe you think that we don’t know we’re bullies. Well…you poor, clueless thing, you! Newsflash! We know we’re bullies. We know we’re bitches and assholes. We know we’re hell on wheels. And ya know what else? We’re damn PROUD of it!

Why? Because it’s cool to be cruel! Sorry. That’s reality and you can either deal with it or continue to be a hero and get treated worse!

But the higher up on the social hierarchy we are, the more brutal we are, the more brazen we are, the more desperate we are, and the harder we’ll fight to keep the popularity, the attention, the favor, the having our butts kissed, and the social status we so enjoy.

You need to realize that the positions we hold and the friends and followers we have give us special treatment, rewards, and liberties that nobody else can get. And the power we have is too delicious to give up. Outside of our group, our high social status, and this school, we have nothing!

So, if this little geek thinks he’s going to man up and punk us out in front of the entire school, then we’re going to give him both barrels!

In this power struggle, we have an arsenal of power, reputation, connections, and favor. And we’ll use them all to bury this freak

bully bullies arrogant

Arrogant young Caucasian man with three female admirers

Here are some tricks we’ve mastered:

1. We hold the target down. It takes a long time to isolate a target. But we have the patience of Job. And we’ll get our kicks out of watching him suffer! He thinks he can win friends and respect? He thinks he’s cool? He thinks he’s better than us? Not in this lifetime! We decide who talks to who, who makes friends and when they do.

And we can kill any opportunity to make friends, get a date and even turn the teachers, coaches, and other staff against him if we so desire.

We can shut him up by ridiculing him every time he speaks or answers questions in class- even if he gets the answers correct. And if he gets the right answers and the teacher praises him for it, it’ll only further piss us off, and we’ll turn up the heat on his butt!

We’ll shame him by calling him a nerd or a bookworm. We’ll accuse him of being an arrogant know-it-all and being full of himself! By the time we’re through with him, he’ll be too afraid to open his smart mouth!

We can exclude him from school clubs, from ballgames, school dances, proms, and other school functions.

We’ll control his emotions. He won’t get any enjoyment at school unless we say so. We can make sure he does nowhere but down, then leave him to rot in his own loneliness and misery. We’ll make sure he’s stuck on the bottom of the pecking order and never moves up.

We’ll dim his shine, strip him of any confidence, change his smug attitude, and make him loathe himself! We’ll make him trash!

bullied target isolated excluded

Why Bullies Love to Isolate Their Victims

2. We isolate the target. He crossed us- that makes him a leper as far as anyone else is concerned. Does he really think anyone will stand by him? Sure, other kids in the student body may hate us because they can’t be us, but they fear us! They may talk smack about how they’d stand up to us, but talk’s cheap.

Oh, yeah! The other folks talk the talk. But we know that when the time comes to walk the walk, they’ll only tuck their tails between their legs and run. They’ll leave the little wuss to fend for himself. They’ll know better than to piss us off because they know that we have the power to make their lives just as hard as we made his (the target’s).

Nobody wants to be next on our hit list, and we don’t blame them! It isn’t their problem, and they don’t want to end up down in the basement with him (the target).

So, what’s he going to do about it? If he does manage to scrounge up a few friends, they’ll be the few no-counts who are just as desperate as he is, and they’ll hang with him only because they have no other options themselves, which gives us another juicy idea – Hmmm! Perhaps if we pretend to like and accept those other losers, they’ll throw his sorry butt under the bus too! Then what friends will he have?

Just as there are people who fight to be on top, there are also those who struggle just as hard to stay off the bottom.

Oh, the other losers may feel sorry for the target, but they need us to leave them alone and not to make them bigger laughing stocks than they already are. What few friends he has? They aren’t stupid. Anyone would be a fool to have a dog in this fight!

bully bullying narcissist

A selfish man walks the heads of people as on the steps to the highest post behind the crown. Conceptual scene is a narcissistic and selfish person

At this school, we are royalty! We’re the top dogs. If anyone else wants to be safe, they need our permission. The target’s friends don’t want us to make things any harder than what we already do. And they know that if at any time some blockhead is dumb enough to piss us off, we take no prisoners!

So, even his friends will turn a blind eye. They won’t be so stupid as to have his back. And if he shoots his mouth off to them or anyone else about any of us, many of them will report back to us for these reasons:

a. To get on our good side
b. In hopes that we’ll accept them
c. To stay off our hate-radar

And if we grill the target’s friends with questions about him, they’ll tell us anything they think we want to hear and they more than likely know all his deepest, darkest secrets!

Maybe these friends will know we’re only using them to get the deets from them, and maybe they won’t, but either way, it won’t matter. The only thing that will matter to them is keeping us satisfied, and keeping their butts off our hit list.

Do you see where we’re going with this? The fix is in. If the target continues to grow a pair and push back against us, the other students will stay wayyyy away from him to keep from arousing our wrath. And no matter how strong he thinks he is, he won’t be able to handle that for very long.

(More in Part 3…)