Bullying can take on many forms. Some of you have been bullied so mercilessly that you are exhausted and battered from the abuse, and others have been attacked in such a stealth manner that you may not have even recognized it as bullying, but you’re suffering the hurtful consequences.
If someone uses strength, power, influence or manipulation to browbeat you into agreeing with them or doing what they want you to do, they are a bully. Sometimes it’s an overbearing and loud show of aggression, but not always. Bullying can be a silent abuse that delivers consistent and intentional torment.
Red Flags that you’ve been bullied:
- Feeling sad, lonely, depressed or scared because of someone, or persecuted, belittled, intimidated or threatened by someone.
Perhaps less apparent to detect:
- Feeling attacked without provocation. You know, one of those ‘shake your head’ moments where you wonder, “Where did THAT come from?”
- Experiencing a jaw dropping, heart sinking, speechless, sucker-punched reaction after a conversation
- Feeling an overwhelming need to defend yourself
- Genuinely having no clue where someone is coming from after they’ve thrown a barrage of ‘You’ statements your way. “You do this…” or “You did that…”
- A lump in your throat or sick pit in your stomach after someone has blindsided you
- Feeling backed in a corner or ganged up on
Sure, the above can be from instances other than bullying, but chances are if someone is causing you to feel any of the emotions I’ve described, there’s a fair amount of bullying going on.
Recently, I was confronted by someone who left me feeling angry, confused and defensive. There was already similar history with this person, and since there was simply no reasoning with them, I decided to end the conversation and walk away from the relationship. I needed to declutter the bully.
Another bully I’ve encountered bullies by omission. It isn’t an outward attack or aggressive demeanor, yet a sly and crafty approach that constantly leaves me feeling angry, frustrated and so very sad. I’ve also had to walk away from this person in a manner of speaking. I needed to declutter the bully.
Both situations are terribly upsetting, but the truth is if I allowed the bullying to continue, the consequences to my heart would be far worse than the pain of a severed relationship.
God will not fault us for protecting our heart, in fact, he asks us to do just that.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23
Why do people bully?
- They are trying to cover up their own insecurities, jealousies or shortcomings
- They have an addiction problem – alcohol, drugs, gambling, porn, food
- They have an inflated self ego and are narcissistic in nature
- They are mirroring abuse they have personally endured
- They are attention seekers and love to be in the spotlight on their soapbox
Of course there are many other reasons why someone might torment, but I’m fairly certain you’ll see a few of the qualities above in the people you consider bullies.
Bullying is everywhere:
- It’s prevalent among family members, in the work place, on sports teams, in the classroom and even online.
- We hear devastating stories in the news of young children taking their own lives because they could no longer endure the bullying.
- Jonathan Martin, formerly with the Miami Dolphins felt tormented and trapped in an NFL locker room, constantly being bullied by fellow teammates. This big, strong giant of a man was broken down by his peers to such a degree that he walked away from his job and his passion.
- Even my own daughter-in-law, Shelby, was the victim of a recent cyber bullying attack. The coward hid behind a made-up name and fake profile and unleashed a horrific tirade of insults which included attacking Shelby, her husband, their beautiful baby boy and even Shelby’s deceased father, who was a Vietnam Veteran. Heinous doesn’t being to describe the vile assault.
What to do?
- Guard yourself. If a calm conversation or reasonable solution isn’t possible, walk away, hang up and block contact.
- Maintain your hope, confidence and positive spirit. Bullying is an indicator of a problem with the bully!
- Protect your witness. Being persecuted is not an excuse for bad behavior.
- Pray. Whatever the other person is going through, obviously they need help. You aren’t called to be their doormat or punching bag, but you can pray for their clarity, peace and healing.
- If you are witness to bullying, encourage the person being bullied to take the steps mentioned above. And depending on the circumstance, if appropriate to do so, speak up.
It’s not always easy to walk away or stop the abuse. Don’t hesitate to seek help if needed. Confide in a trusted friend, talk with your pastor or find a counselor. Bullying can have long lasting, devastating ill effects and the sooner you address it, the better off you’ll be.
And if by some chance you happen to recognize signs of being a bully in yourself, by all means, address it immediately with a trained professional. Commit to ridding yourself of this cruel behavior.
Interested in learning more about bullying? Check out these sites below:
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