Bullying is the repeated efforts of an individual or group of individuals to harm a person through physical, verbal or social attacks, and is not only a problem for children. You can be bullied at any age by anyone, and work place bullying is becoming an increasing problem.
I'd say you could define how bad you are being bullied by thinking about how the actions of the bully affect you. For example, if you are simply in the same room as the bully and experience the following symptoms it could be said you are getting badly bullied:
- Your heart begins to pump so hard and fast you can feel your pulse in your ears
- Your breathing quickens and adrenaline floods your body
- You constantly watch them for any threats they may pose
- You prick your ears up scanning any comments they may make towards you or about you
- You become aware of every little move you make that could be picked upon and exploited as a weakness, and make a concerted effort to maintain as low a profile as possible
Bullying bleeds you of your self-confidence and dignity and basically boils down to abuse. Of course you will get people who say that it is only a bit of teasing and you shouldn't let it bother you, but if they were in your shoes I bet they'd think differently. Teasing is all fine and dandy if you don't feel intimidated by the person directing it at you, therefore you can tease them back, or simply tell them to shut the fuck in no uncertain terms, knowing they would. When it gets to the point where you're too scared to say or do anything back to them, when the presence of that person determines whether you have a good day or a bad day, when you wish that person would get hit by a bus and die instantly, then you know you are being bullied.
So what to do about it
The main piece of advice I would give is that you have to do something. Doing nothing, and simply hoping your bully will eventually see the error of his/her ways will not work. The situation will get worse, and your bully will take greater liberties as they begin to realize they can push you further and further and you won't do a damn thing back to them. So okay, several ideas I wish someone had once told me:
- Prevention is better than cure. Try and knock it on the head as soon as you see a potential bullying situation develop. This may be on the very first day of school, or the very first day of a new job. A potential bully may poke fun at you, or make some other sort of comment, which you find intimidating simply to test you. If you don't challenge them they know you're an easy target and it can all go downhill from there. You may think they're even quite funny at first, most bullies are clever, witty, cunning people, but this can quickly turn against you, so be vigilant. Bullying puts you into a state of hyper-vigilance, anyway. It's probably best not to do this in front of other people. Take them to one side, look them straight in the eye and without sugar-coating it, let them know in no uncertain terms that you ain't taking no shit from them! Make sure you seem confident of yourself, you could practice this beforehand in a mirror, just to make sure you get the look on your face perfect. This will work with most people who don't realize that their actions are pissing you off. Let's face it, if you took the piss out of someone and an hour later they collared you and laid down the law, you probably wouldn't be angry, you'd feel like a prat for making them feel that way in the first place. No decent person wants to be known as a bully.
- Tell someone. If you feel you can't approach the bully yourself you have to tell someone. This may be a teacher, a parent, a friend or your boss. As a kid I can remember being terribly embarrassed by being bullied. It's something that happens to weak nerdy kids, isn't it? Forget that shit man anything’s better then getting bullied. When you tell someone you don't even have to use the word "bullied", and you don't have to seem desperate and can still maintain your dignity. Just say this person is causing you problems, or they have something against you and you don't know why, and you want to sort it out once and for all ASAP. If your boss or teacher says to leave it with them, say NO! I want this shit sorted out now man! Or ask how they are going to sort it out. Convey how important it is to you, as I said above, many people don't see bullying as a big problem. If their actions are not to your satisfaction in sorting it out go above their head to someone that will. If you are being bullied at work it's law that your company have to provide a pleasant safe atmosphere. Remember, you are not the person in the wrong, the bully is, so why feel bad about trying to stop it?
To retaliate or not. This one's a toughie. Personally I never did, not because I had morals coming out of my ears about how I was lowering myself to the bully's standard, but simply because I didn't have the guts. I didn't know how to throw a good punch. I'd never hit anyone in my entire life, and when I felt like I was about to explode and smash the guy in the face I felt I had no strength in my arms, and if I did hit him, I'd feel great for 2 seconds, then realize my punch had no effect and have to face up to the fact I was in for a beating.
This is the problem. If you decide you're going to throw a punch, you don't know if it's going to have the desired effect. The bully's reaction will be either stunned into submission and to never to cross your path again, or whether it could all backfire. You could get a beating, you could get expelled or fired, you might think you're safe for a while, but then be constantly looking over your shoulder for a reprisal attack or the people around you could look down on you for taking things to such an extreme and isolate yourself even more. Despite all the possible negatives I still wished I had smacked my bully in the face. I think it would have worked, but who knows. At least today I could think to myself, yeah man, I gave him a broken nose for his troubles. But it's up to you, really, and you have to decide what approach is going to work best in your situation.
If you are being bullied physically you could...
- Make a complaint to the police. This may seem extreme but you are essentially being physically assaulted. The bottom line is that this is against the law and it is the duty of the police and the criminal courts to prevent this. Who the fuck gave anybody the right to punch or kick you?! Just because they are a kid, it gives them no right to go around beating people up. Your parents taxes pay police wages, so use them, that's what they're there for, if you don't go and make a complaint right now they'll be sitting at their desks playing Minesweeper on expert level all day, they need your complaint man! I'm being serious, you were not put on this Earth to be somebody else’s punching bag. As a kid, you accept situations without question. I did, and you must start saying to yourself that you're not going to put up with it anymore. Man I wish someone had given me a pep talk when I was kid.
- Gang up with a load of your friends or other kids who are having the same problem as you. Jump your bully when he's on his own. Beat them to a bloody pulp with baseball bats, leaving them in a permanent vegetative state, with drool hanging from their chin, while they sit in their motorized wheelchair being spoon fed by mummy. Okay I can see I'm getting ever more extreme here; don't do this actually—you'll probably end up with some good jail time being somebody's anal virgin bitch.
- Increase your self-confidence. This may reduce your susceptibility to bullying, and make you feel better about yourself all round. Being low on self-confidence is no excuse for a person to bully you, I'm just saying. Well, speaking as a guy, I always wished I'd taken up a martial art as a kid, so by the time I got into the potential bullying time in my life, I knew how to handle my body, and knew what it was like trying to shift someone else's body weight around, and how to throw an effective punch, and shit like that basically. If someone knows you can handle yourself they are much less likely to give you any shit. I started trying to build my muscles up when I was 13, and I am quite strong now, but I still need to take up a martial art because I still don't know how to use my body effectively. I'm almost 22 btw, but as I said, you can get bullied at any point in your life, if you are a quiet introverted person like myself.
- Refuse to go to where you and your bully come into contact. If worse comes to worst, and nothing seems to be helping the situation, simply refuse to go into school or into work until it's sorted. If again it isn't sorted, change schools, study at home, or change jobs. This is of course the last option to consider, but hey, you don't want to live a life of daily misery, do you? If going somewhere makes you unhappy, don't go there anymore. Makes sense, doesn't it?
I think I've covered the main points: violence, talking it out, yeah that's about it. At the end of the day, you have to remember it is not your fault you are being bullied; you are not in the wrong in any way at all. Just because you are quiet, reserved, introverted, different kind of person doesn't give anyone the right to make your life a misery. It's your life, after all, and no one has the right to tear you down like this.