The Long-Term Effects of Bullying

Bullying, especially chronic and severe bullying, is traumatic for targets and can have long-lasting effects. Most people who’ve been traumatized by bullying have lives that don’t run smoothly. They experience many stops and starts in life- many interruptions and setbacks.

They suffer a long string of broken relationships and friendships due to their shattered trust in humanity. When you’ve been bullied severely as I have, you will come to believe the lie, that human beings are inherently evil and enjoy seeing others suffer, if you aren’t careful and you don’t get professional help. And naturally, this destructive belief will effect your personal relationships.

In order to succeed at anything- you job, academics, finances, projects, anything, you must know how to form and nurture successful relationships. The hard truth is that it really is who you are connected with that determines your success in life. How to form relationships and confidently maintain them is the most important life skill you can ever learn and master. It’s sad that traditional schools don’t teach this.

Many people who have been chronically and severely bullied have been stunted in their emotional development and their development of people-skills. Many targets and survivors of bullying are afraid of meeting new people and of relationships. They’re fearful of social engagements and situations because they see themselves through the eyes of their bullies- that they’re somehow defective and inferior to everyone. Therefore, they don’t trust themselves or other people anymore.

Targets and survivors of bullying may desire friends and relationships but don’t want to take the risks required to get what they want. They decide that it’s much safer to stay alone and avoid even the remotest chance of conflict, being ridiculed, and possibly being targeted again in the future.

What these traumatized people don’t realize is that this doesn’t decrease their chances of being targeted. It actually increases that chance because bullies actively search for people like them- easy marks who are fearful and easily intimidated. Also, it lessons their chances of success at all other aspects of their lives.

Many targets and survivors of bullying are ashamed of what they had to do to survive and keep from getting hurt and bullied worse than they already were.

They have much shame about the many times they had to submit to the bullies demands to keep from getting their brains beat out or save themselves from being shot or stabbed.

They often look back and wish they’d spoken up or defended themselves and just took whatever consequences they’d have had to face afterward. Sadly, they haven’t thought about the fact that the brain’s and body’s natural reaction is to do whatever they must do to keep one from harm- it’s part of our survival instinct.

If you are or have been a target of bullying, how can you change your life for the better?

1.You start by getting therapy and by reading self-help and personal development books that deal with the type of problems you’re having. You also relearn the social arts and do the inner work to reprogram yourself. Realize that this will take a lot of time to internalize.

2. You replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

3. You count your blessings and make a list of your good qualities and talents.

4. You think of the good people in your life, even if you only know a few, and realize that there are more of them in the world- realize that, out of almost eight billion people in the world, there must be more good people besides the few you already know.

5. You spend time with the people who love you and who uplift you. These positive connections will balance out all the bad experiences you’ve had with bullies and your confidence will grow. Soon, you won’t be as fearful because you’ll feel better about yourself.

6. You take risks by meeting new people and making new connections. This will be uncomfortable at first but continue to push yourself and it will eventually feel natural.

The things above are what I did to regain my confidence and become outgoing. It wasn’t easy and it took time and a lot of practice for it to sink in and become like second nature. But I look back now and I’m so glad I put in the work because my life is so much better now.

I’m at peace with myself and with others. Words cannot explain the freedom that comes with it. You would have to experience it to know. But I promise that if you do the same things I did, and put in the time and work, the payoff will be exponential, and you’ll get the ROI you’ve never thought you would!

Invest in yourself. Don’t you think you’re worth the time and effort? I do.

Targets of Bullying and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

You don’t have to be a combat soldier or veteran to have PTSD. Victims and survivors of rape and incest can develop it. Targets and survivors of severe bullying and abuse can also have it.

Although many of us survive and, better yet, overcome whatever or whoever tried to harm us, it still leaves scars on our psyches. Our abilities to regulate emotions are deeply affected as is our abilities to find stability, happiness, joy, love, and intimacy.

I know this from firsthand experience. Because of the severe bullying I had suffered at school, I was a very angry, hypervigilant, and vengeful twenty-something back in the 1990’s.

All it took was for someone to stare or look at me the wrong way and I’d very rudely and belligerently ask them what their major malfunction was. If someone got in my face, approached me in a threatening manner- did anything to provoke me, I would want to put up my fists.

Because of the trauma I had gotten from the bullying I had suffered in the past, I was determined that no one would ever bully me again.

I remember when I was 23 years old. While standing in the checkout line at the supermarket and having my groceries rung up, another young woman, who happened to be a neighbor I was at odds with, kept standing in line behind me, cursing and shouting at me to “hurry up.”

Sadly, she was one of those people who seemingly stayed into it with everyone in our neighborhood. In a way, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her.

When I handed the cashier my cash to pay for the groceries and the woman put a finger in my face, I grabbed her by the back of her head and slammed her face down across the checkout counter so hard, the machine beeped.

Honestly, I don’t know how I kept from going to jail but I was lucky. No. I was blessed!

Fortunately, other than splashing a bully’s face with a fountain drink after work a year or so before, this was the only altercation I’d gotten into at the time.

When I look back, I’m pretty embarrassed of it now. Being young and not having enough life experience yet, I let some idiot cause me to get violent. ‘Definitely not one of my finest moments!

But that’s what trauma from past bullying can do. It makes you hypervigilant, always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

And when it does, you react. You tell the person off, maybe curse a blue streak in them, calling the person every name but a child of God. Or you double up your fist and give the jerk in front of you a fat lip.

You don’t want to react that way, of course, but it’s kneejerk. Then you end up feeling like a complete heel later. This is what happens when you allow ignorant people to push your buttons and it’s too easy to do when you’ve been traumatized.

Now that I’m older, anytime some creep crosses a line, I usually tell the person to get a life then walk away. But I never stay silent. I’ve found that I can get my point across in only a few words, keep it moving, and continue to feel good about myself. There’s no need to get physical.

And that’s what I would recommend anyone to do when someone is running off at the mouth. If they put a finger in your face, however, there’s no law that says you can’t grab their finger and shove it away. And if the person tries to hit you, then it’s time to throw up those dukes and defend yourself.

There’s nothing wrong with self-defense. It’s how we set boundaries. It’s how we teach people to stay out of our personal space and keep their hands off.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Survivors of Bullying Who Never Heal from Bullying and Abuse

I don’t want to imagine where I’d be if I never healed from the bullying I suffered in the past. It’s not something l like to think about and it isn’t something I enjoy bringing up. However, I feel I’d be doing you a huge disservice if I didn’t.

If you were bullied at some point and you did the inner work and healed from it, you are one of the lucky blessed and I extend my congratulations to you.

But sadly, many survivors of bully never heal, and I can only feel terrible for them. Because these people go their entire lives, dragging so much pinned up anger, resentment, sadness, and depression with them. Those emotions tend to fester into powerlessness- they simply don’t know what to do to make their lives better and achieve happiness and prosperity. Others only let it make them unfeeling and uncaring- and this second set of survivors often find prosperity and success, but they don’t find happiness.

So, what do these unhealed survivors do end up doing and where do they end up?

1. They join gangs. Many times, when a person has been bullied and hasn’t healed, they often join gangs and extremist groups to get the sense of friendship, unity, belonging, and empowerment they were for so long denied. In a gang, these survivors are ensured protection from further bullying. And they use fear to get that protection.

 

2. They join extremist groups. Because these survivors were bullied terribly and never healed from it, they often feel a sense of unfairness and injustice. So, they take up a cause. Don’t get me wrong. Taking up a cause can be a wonderful and constructive way to deal with pain and trauma. But  extremist groups are never good because they have a tendency for violence.  In joining extremist groups, survivors also get the friendship, support, alliance, and power they couldn’t get before.

Interior of cell block in abandoned State Correctional Institution, or jail., common room with jail cel

3. They end up in jail. Remember a few posts back, when I mentioned that anyone who is consistently told they’re bad, crazy, or evil will begin to exhibit behavior which matches the labels? When people are made to feel that they’re horrible people, they may go out and commit crimes either to get attention or because they feel they’re owed for all the bullying they suffered.

4. They become workaholics. In the past, they were bullied and made to feel powerless. So, they work like dogs to make lots of money because they feel that having lots of money gives them enormous power.

5. They get into drug abuse. Many become drug addicts and alcoholics to quell the PTSD, trauma, sadness, and depression that is brought about by bullying. Instead of seeking the right kind of help, they self-medicate.

Understand that healing from bullying is a must if you want to go on to a happy and peaceful life and that sometimes, healing means seeking therapy. Healing and getting closure take a lot of work. But I promise that if you get the help and put in the inner work needed, it’ll be so worth it in the end!