Bullying - A haunting fear.24, June, 2016, by Seema Bhatnagar
Bullying is a common menace at every place these days and is no lesser than an epidemic in our society. It is such a toxic experience for an individual that it spoils the whole personality and leaves a long term scar on a psyche. Unfortunately, it is not restricted to just one particular place rather it happens almost everywhere, whether it is at home, school, office or anywhere where there are human interactions. Especially, when it comes to children, it leaves a deep and negative impact and gives them a lifelong pain.
What it means?
Bullying means - an unwanted aggressive behavior that involves making threats, name calling, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally and excluding someone from the group purposely. After understanding its definition, somewhere it comes to realization that perhaps each one of us has gone through this distressing experience at least once in life.
Reasons for bullying
There could be several reasons for an individual to act as a bully but fundamentally following are few top ones:-
#1 - People who experienced painful past derive pleasure in hurting others.
#2 - Due to personal experiences of insensitivity, bullying others gives an opportunity to throw that insensitivity out on others.
#3 - Personal inadequacy, to feel superior to others.
#4 - To experience power over others who are weak and vulnerable.
Do not wonder about any specific or particular reason for an individual to act bully. It can be really wierd and ridiculous. Largely, the subjects for bullying are physical appearances, language or differnce of cultures.
Signs of a bully
An individual who acts bully will have following signs:-
#1 - Will avoid eye contact with others.
#2 - Will try to team up with others to exclude the victim to create a sense of helplessness.
#3 - Will try to seek secluded places to avoid public display of power.
#4 - Will resort to name calling to make fun of victim.
#5 - Will have difficulties in maintaining healthy relationships with others.
Bullies are always in search of preys that are weak and vulnerable in some way. This gives them opportunity to scare them and derive pleasure out of it. It is fundamentally a power play. Different individuals have their own different ways to display power over others.
My personal experienceWay back during school time, during my primary classes I experienced bullying at the hands of my two classmates. Whenever there was no teacher in the class, even if it is for 15 mins, these two would take control of the whole class and would start calling other classmates to do what they like, be it singing, dancing or to sit on the floor or to raise both hands for certain period or to stand on one leg. If anybody dares to resists they would punish harshly.
Nobody had courage to go against them. Though I was never punished or called to perform any idiotic activity but the whole environment used to scare me and I used to feel scared of those two and internally I used to hate them and felt helpless and vulnerable. At that tender age, I did not have the courage to discuss these incidents either with teachers or at home. Those two became a kind of terror for the whole class but nobody had courage to raise voice to teachers.
How it came to an end was - when the two classes were merged and teachers were changed and one of them left the school. Recently, I came to know about them for how they have fared in their life. One of them is going through a troubled marriage and straying outside, while the other one is married with children and doing some mediocre job. I am not assessing them or trying to be judgmental about them, it is something which interests me because I feel - the fundamental nature of an individual doesn't change so easily and it does a lot of harm to self then to others. One of them tried to contact me but I refused simply for the reason that he hasn't evolved a bit.
While in job, I experienced bullying in a more polished way. There was a gentleman in one of my projects, who was a senior one with good number of years of experience. He had a strong dislike about any authority or anybody who would ask him about his work.
On several occasions he tried to team up against me and would do all the communication with clients without informing me, this is when I am the leader of the project and suppose to present the status to client. Junior team members in a team had no courage to speak against him and he would hide all information from me and on asking to share would misbehave in the team area or would avoid talking and having eye contact altogether. On many occasions it went really ugly in front of team members. I went through lot of anxiety and stress due to negativity in the environment and the whole focus was on ensuring that information is shared rather than how to enhance the productivity of the team or the quality of the work.
He was given enough feedback about his misbehavior but he was so compelled by his personality that he could not stop reacting. At this age, I had enough courage to report this behavior to my seniors and they acknowledged it with full support and ensured me to observe him for his actions.
How it came to an end was - compelled by his habit when he misbehaved with one of the senior leaders of the organization, he was sacked within a week.
From my coaching experience - I got an opportunity to interact with one of my clients who was 18 years old. He was studying in a hostel away from home. When I met him, he was back home and was on a treatment for depression with medium level dose of anti-depressants. While understanding his problem in detail I came to know that he was bullied harshly by a group of fellow students in hostel due to which he lost his mental balance and within a six months period he had to be hospitalized for an advance stage of depression. He could not raise voice because he was alone and because he did not do what they wanted him to do so he was brutally punished for it. I could not pursue further because he again collapsed in a bout of depression. I really felt sorry for what he was going through at such an early stage of life.
On the other side, to be really honest, I myself acted bully during early childhood, exactly during my primary classes. I was a bully to only selected group of neighborhood friends. Perhaps, somewhere I was impressed by the bullying behavior of my classmates in schools which prompted me to act in similar way on my friends at home. As a bully, I would ask them to do my work and expect them to obey my instruction. On failing to carry out my instruction, I would punish them or would exclude them from my group. I used to be the leader of my group.
How it came to an end was - when I shifted my residence to a different place. Interestingly, when I think of all those times, I try to introspect what was it which prompted me to behave like that. The first answer comes, the exercising of power. Nobody taught me how to exercise power, it was simply that I absorbed it from environment, this is important to understand because this is another way for children to learn bullying.
When I watch children in a group, I can immediately sense who is bully and who can be the potential victim. The bully behavior starts at an early age when children throw tantrums at home and parents bow down or surrender to it. It can be easily ignored as a childish behavior but then it sends a message to child that power works over others. Gradually, he learns other ways to exercise powers in different situations and environments and on getting success it turns into a concrete behavior. There are certain other life situations like unloving parenting, breach of trust or constant failures which push people into bullying. Fundamentally, it is all about power play to get the pleasure of being superior over others or to get some kind of relief from personal sufferings.
How to encounter it?
As a victim one should understand that a bully is taking an advantage of a situation be it a place, a group of individuals or your own lack of confidence, so whenever you are getting into in a situation where you feel that somebody is bullying over you, you should immediately raise your voice against it and face bully with your full strength. It will make bully a bit uncomfortable to carry out his/her attack over you. This could be a bit hard for somebody who is coy, in that case you must avoid going to secluded areas or wherever you see the group of rowdies and seek somebody's support that you feel is more confident than you.
Even if you have faced it once don't ignore it, immediately report such incident to concerned authority in your school/college/office and keep your friends and parents informed about it. It could be a great help to others who might become potential victim of bullying.
A bully individual is an egoist personality who can go to any height to experience the pleasure of causing pain to others, so it is better to keep people informed so that any eventually can be avoided.
How to overcome it?
Overcoming the damage caused by bullying is indeed quite a painful part. It takes years and years to wipe off those painful memories. A victim of a bullying must be kept in a comforting and loving environment until a level of confidence to face others is achieved.
As a parent, you must keep asking your child about his/her comfort level in class and school, is there anybody s/he dislikes, if yes then why. Be involved with your child so that s/he can easily share the discomfort s/he is going through.
Even as an adult you can face such incidents at different places, it can be as small as jumping the queue. Be alert and conscious of the fact that people are looking ways to throw their weight around to feel superior of others.
In love relationships or marriages also, a partner can act bully to get acts done as per his/her whims and fancies. Here also, instead of suffering one should talk it out and resolve conflicts amicably if possible.
The best approach to overcome the pain of undergoing bullying is to discuss it with somebody who can understand your feelings or a good confidant, this could be your friend or a psychologist. As we all know, time is a great healer, so leave it to time once you have discussed it with somebody.
It is a modern information age menace which reaches to you from nooks and corner of the world even from individuals whom you don't even know.
It feels so helpless and distasteful when someone whom you do not even know is throwing abuses on you simply for the reason that you do not agree to what s/he is saying or thinks. When social media has taken over our life, inviting unknown people to post distasteful comments or posting obscene pictures on timelines is not so difficult.
Cyber bullies can go to an extent of spreading rumors about websites in the group or may exclude you from the group and forums. Using offensive language and posting embarrassing pictures about you are some common ways adopted by cyber bullys.
Someone who is a beginner or naive or a child for online experience, can go through a lot of pain and mental stress because of cyber bullying, in certain cases victims are compelled to divulge important online credentials. Children who are exposed to online experience are especially under potential threat of being bullied.
If you have experienced or experiencing cyber bullying then block that person immediately or if you are in a group or a forum report it to administrator immediately. Somehow take all the possible steps to ensure that it does not recur.
Say "NO" to Bullying.
We all must understand that bullying in any form is a kind of offence and one should not tolerate it. For certain sensitive individuals it can lead to mental trauma eventually ending in suicide.
Instead of being a bystander thinking it is something not happening to me is tantamount to supporting a bully. On any instance of bullying it must be checked, raised and addressed in full strength as it might costs somebody's life.
Being bullied by others at one time or others is not a sign of any weakness or do not understand yourself as a victim. Muster courage and raise your voice against it, one must not accept or tolerate it in any form.
Following are some useful sites to understand and report bullying in your environment.