So far, we’ve covered what bullying is, what it does, where it stems from, how it works its way in our life, and why it’s so hard to walk away from the bully. The time has come for us to look at the process of breaking the bullying cycle. Even though the process will vary according to each situation, there are a few principles to guide us.
Those that choose to fight to break the cycle find themselves feeling strengthened by their decision and perhaps even determined to follow through, but they also have a frail mental state similar to someone who just woke up from a bad dream. The willingness is present, but the already established codependent relationship won’t break easily, as we have seen. By this point, the bully is already in tune with his victim’s weaknesses and triggers. In order to manage breaking out of this toxic relationship, the victim needs to become empowered and either set the terms of the relationship or put an end to it. At this point, whatever resilience is left will be put to the test.
The Process of Breaking Out of the Bullying Relationship
- Acknowledge the Bullying for What It Is: As we wake up from the daze of being pummeled by constant abuse, we open our eyes to see a very different world from the one we used to know or made ourselves believe existed. It’s like our world got hit by a massive earthquake or a hurricane. The difference from a natural phenomenon of mass destruction is that you have a culprit responsible for it. This wasn’t natural. It was an injustice. As you begin to put it all in perspective, you begin to see the damage done to you and to those around you more clearly and you turn your attention toward the one primarily responsible for it.
- Assess Your Opponent and His Strategies: As you begin to understand how you were manipulated and used, you will likely become upset and angry with the bully. It’s OK to feel indignant and sad. However, it’s crucial that you do not let that anger reverse your roles where you become a bully. This is often how bullies are made. You have a right to be angry, to be respected, and to speak up when you feel violated in any way. Those rights have been downplayed and denied to you while under the bully’s influence.
- New Strategies: Set boundaries, with the intention of opening up communication, breaking the isolation, and protecting yourself from falling prey to the bully’s paralyzing traps that aim at forcing you into your former victim role. Like a narcissist, the bully feels like he’s entitled to overstep boundaries and take what he wants, without giving so much as a single thought to the fact that he’s violating your rights.
- Stand Your Ground: On an emotional level, bullies are like little children who will throw a tantrum if they don’t get what they want, when they want it. Once you decide to stand by your boundaries, brace yourself for impact. “If you ever give in to a tantrum, you’re back to square one; it’s reinforced that if they stick to their guns, they’ll win and you’ll relent.” (Brown, 2014) Expect tantrums to test how far you will go before one of you gives up. This tantrum doesn’t have to be physical (throwing or breaking something). A good dose of passive aggression and guilt-trip is as good as any tantrum. If you decide to go down the path of giving an ultimatum, you have to mean it and stand by it. If you waiver, he wins.
- Free Yourself: Learning to resist the bully is all fine and dandy, but no one wants to put up with a relationship that’s under constant strain. The relationship dynamic has to end in order for the victim to become truly free. When you feel the urge to lash out at your bully, be the bigger person. Validate where validation is due, but do not condone the abusive treatment in any way. Thus you provide some healing to that narcissistic injury through your validation and, through your boundaries, protect yourself and educate the wounded inner child that’s acting out to become a bigger person.
As a now empowered person, you no longer play the victim and you show others to do the same through your own example. The bully is just another victim who is attempting to break out of victim role by victimizing instead of empowering himself.
As I finish writing this blog post, I realize that in these seven posts I have shared a lot of key information from my manuscript. Even though a part of me wanted to keep most of it for its future publication, I chose to share the information for the sake of those currently struggling under the yoke of bullying. For many of these, time is of the essence and they need to find a way out NOW. In return, all I ask is that each and everyone of you stand up for each other. Don’t allow any tolerance to bullying. It is an injustice that should never be condoned. Standing up for yourself or someone else may sometimes come with a price, but the price you’ll pay for allowing the bullying to happen is far greater.
On my next post, we will broaden our scope of bullying to the spiritual level.