Bullying is about the bully needing to feel powerful. Bullies believe their wants are more important than anyone else's. They have learned to be abusers.
Bullying always involves
• Intimidation through specific tactics meant to instill fear
• Threats of emotional, physical and psychological harm
• Discrimination by accusing the victim of being inferior or wrong
• Isolation of the victim from others who may give support.
We must help the victims. This can be done by;
• Listening to their stories
• Watching for changes in behaviour, especially from happy to fearful
• Observing and listening how they interact with others
• Asking about any indications that hint at being afraid or avoiding people or places.
You are looking for fear, anxiety about who they speak with, talk of having no friends, worry about their activities being discovered by their spouse and in general a focus on feeling safe rather than excited living life.
We can identify bullies by;
• Watching the way they talk to their spouse
• Observing the way they speak about their spouse
• Look at their interaction with others for intimidation and control
• Paying attention to the types of shows and TV programs they prefer.
Signs include belittling and name calling, talk of "getting" other people, a superior attitude with lack of care and empathy for others and forming groups where the group acts aggressively against members of a race, religion or sexual orientation. Bullies often present as confident and popular so people believe they are not the cause of the problem.
Too often the victim is seen as the problem. Their aches and pains, reluctance to join in with others, their easy tears, insecure behaviour and lack of confidence are looked at as being anti social.
People who bully are usually going about their lives confident that the victim's physical and emotional reactions were because they are too sensitive, not mentally well and author of their own misfortune.
Bullies have usually been bullied. They are afraid of appearing weak or fearful. They need to tell their story of who has bullied them and how that behaviour has influenced their life to break the chain. It may be a parent, sibling, grandparent, friend, neighbour, role model on television, religious leader or teacher. Legal tactics include bullying as do many other forms of business interaction. Many workplaces are filled with bullies. War is bullying to the extreme.
There are lifelong repercussions of bullying that effect the way a person functions in their home and in society. Bullying causes a loss in self confidence, hinders achievement, disrupts routines, brings fear into the lives of parents and children, prevents parents from protecting their children out of their own fear and leads to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
Accountability involves forgiveness. Bullies need to,
• Hear the impact of their behaviour on their victim
• Be willing to accept responsibility for the harm they have done
• Compensate the victim
Society must evolve to a point where bullies are held accountable and their behaviour is seen as unacceptable if we are to ever live in peace as people, nations and globally.
Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M.Ed. is a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist who consults to families in business on relationship issues including bullying. She is author of books on personal growth through travel. Questing Home: A Safe Place for My Holy Grail is her third book and is about Marilyn's experience of being bullied by her former husband, his lawyer and others as she went through the process of divorce.