This blog post on bullying has to do with the short-term effects that bullying has on the victims while under the bully’s influence. The points I will be explaining are taken from Marie-France Hirigoyen’s book “Le harcèlement moral: la violence perverse au quotidien”. Although the points are mainly hers, I will be explaining them in my own words. Unlike my manuscript, these points will be explained in a few sentences each only. These points are explained in the light of severe bullying. They don’t apply to every case to the same degree.
Whatever the type and intensity of bullying you’ve endured in your past or in the present, the following points are likely to sound familiar, to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the bullying that was experienced and how it was dealt with. Speaking for myself, I can sure relate to everyone of them in some way.
Standing Down: Victims of bullying generally stand down out of fear of undesired consequences: retaliation, break up, guilt-trip, humiliation, loss, etc. The bully will use this fear as leverage, thus mentally paralyzing his victim.
Confusion: Most of the bullying is passive-aggressive and ambiguous at the onset, which leaves room to doubt the aggressive nature of the actions committed or the words spoken. Should the victim retaliate or hold his ground against the abuse, the bully plays the victim and accuses his victim of being the bully. This ambiguity of roles causes confusion which causes mental exhaustion over time. As a result of the mental exhaustion, it is not uncommon to experience poor concentration, frequent loss of train of thought, delayed reactions, reduced ability to perform complex intellectual activities, etc.
Self-doubt: The bully sees to it that the victim think that he is guilty about what happens and yet feel powerless to do anything about it. The main tactic here is poor, critical, and ambiguous communication. The self-doubt in the face of the subtle/ambiguous violence suffered creates a paralyzing confusion, and that confusion fuels the self-doubt. As the victim becomes defenseless, he also becomes the scapegoat upon whom the aggressor puts all of his own insecurities, faults, flaws, etc… while attributing to himself all the good he sees in his victim. Unfortunately, third parties can sometimes make the self-doubt worse through ill advice or by taking sides.
Stress: Knowing that psychological assaults are imminent and can happen at any time and anywhere, our natural survival instincts kick into high gear, and so we brace ourselves for the attack. Any stressful situation normally triggers bodily reactions, but when it is constant, we can develop chronic health problems. An underlying source of stress in bullying is the victim’s blindness to the bully’s tactics. Being able to identify the cause of your stress confines the stress to specific people, places, etc. Not being able to identify it makes everything and everyone in your life a suspect, even yourself.
Fear: In response to the fear of being hurt again, the victim has two choices: to be submissive so as to avoid triggering the wrath of the bully or to stand up to him and draw the line. Both options fuel the bully’s wrath: submission speaks of meekness and gentleness, thus bringing to the forefront the bully’s inability to manage his own insecurities, while drawing the line draws guilt-tripping because the bully does not want to lose his scapegoat.
Isolation: The surroundings play a big role in the bullying dynamic. Observers who pick up on what’s happening usually avoid openly defending the victim out of fear that they will become a new target. To both the bully and the victim, the passivity is easily interpreted as approval. The bully feels supported and the victim feels isolated from any support. Ironically, when someone does stand up for the victim and defend him, it is not uncommon for the victim to start defending the bully for fear of suffering his wrath later. Fear fuels the instinct to withdraw and become isolated.
If you feel thate these points we’ve just seen speak a lot about struggles you’re going through, then you need to take a step back and try to identify who or what is causing these struggles. Even though you may be equipped with the ability to cope or deal with stress and abuse, sometimes having a person who’s removed from your situation can be helpful in figuring out what’s going on and what you can do. Some bullies are so shrewd in their tactics that we don’t even realize what they put us through until we begin to feel significant damage.
While you take the time to look at occasions when you endured or are still enduring some bullying, keep in mind that those who bully sometimes don’t do so maliciously. Bullying is sometimes an automatic response to fear, anger, or insecurity. As we will see in future posts, insecurity is generally the underlying fuel to the fire of bullying.
Next post, we will look at the long term consequences of being the victim of bullying.
Reposted and altered at http://www.ccpa-accp.ca/blog/?p=4165