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October for Bullying – Let’s Build Awareness and prevention

Coming from someone who experienced bullying in middle and high school, bullying really sucks! It’s something too many children experience, and it usually leaves a huge shame mark on our heart. At least it did for me. “I don’t fit in” / “I don’t belong” / “I’m unloveable” / “I’m not enough” are narratives I’ve carried around for a long time, and are sadly, all too common of negative beliefs that children hold onto. It takes a lot of intention and healing to shake them off, but it is possible through self-care, self-love, and self-compassion. And amazing trauma healing treatments described below.

The worst part about bullying is that it doesn’t end in high school. I’ve experienced just as much, if not more bullying in adulthood, even recently in my life. Often from people who haven’t dealt with their own traumas, insecurities, and shadows – people who are thick in their ego, their own shame, and who project onto others. Which really makes you want to look at your own “stuff” and why you are attracting negative, toxic, bullying people / energy into your life. But that’s getting more into shadow work, and healing your inner child, and could be a whole other blog post.

Bullying Sucks.

Bullying is intentionally being maliciously mean to another person over and over again. Bullying often includes:

  • Teasing
  • Gaslighting
  • Badmouthing another person
  • A campaign of denigration to alienate someone
  • Talking about hurting someone
  • Lying about someone to turn others against them
  • Spreading rumors
  • Leaving people out on purpose
  • Shaming others
  • Threatening someone
  • Physically attacking someone
  • Emotionally attacking someone by yelling at them
  • Putting someone down
  • Calling someone names, labeling them
  • Destroying someone else’s property
  • Giving someone the “silent treatment”
  • Spreading slanderous information or comments on the internet
  • Alienating someone from their children or family
  • Trying to change a person’s opinion of someone
  • Trying to ruin someone else’s reputation or business

Nowadays, Bullying does not always happen in person. Cyberbullying is a type of bullying that happens online, through text messages, emails or social media. It includes posting rumors on sites like Facebook, or slander websites, sharing embarrassing pictures or videos, and making fake profiles or websites. And often, spreading this information to others, or a social group, such as school, or a group of friends.

Over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year.

  • 1 in 10 students drop out of school because of repeated bullying.
  • It is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. Source: National Education Association.
  • Bullying statistics say revenge is the strongest motivation for school shootings.
  • Children who experience bullying may experience one or more of the following: anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, high amounts of shame, PTSD, and complex trauma symptoms

31% of Adults Experience Bullying

The online survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, conducted in October, found 31 percent of Americans have been bullied as an adult and many (43%) say the behavior has become more accepted this past year. The survey defined bullying as being subjected to repeated, negative behavior intended to harm or intimidate.

  • Friends can bully friends
  • Ex-friends can bully ex-friends
  • Exes can bully exes
  • Bosses can bully employees
  • Coworkers can bully other coworkers
  • Family members can bully family members
  • Bio parents can bully stepparents

Bullying hurts.

Statistics show us that 1 in 10 drop out of school each year because bullying gets so bad, but 10 in 10 have the potential to be bullied. 1 in 5 struggle with mental illness, but 5 in 5 have mental health.

“Bullying is a coping strategy used to assert control when faced with personal limitations, whether intellectual, physical or otherwise,” said Charles Sophy, DO, a Los Angeles-based psychiatrist and medical director for the County of Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services. “A bully gains power in a relationship by reducing another’s, and shows little regard for the consequences to a victim’s health or well-being.”

How to identify adult bullying.

The poll found a quarter of adults (25%) have experienced the ”silent treatment”  from an individual or group on a repeated basis as an adult, while about 1 in 5 (21%) have had someone spread lies about them that no one refutes.

Behavior from adult bullies is more subtle and sophisticated than what a child might employ. Gaslighting is a common yet poorly understood tactic in which a person makes a victim question their own reality. This controlling behavior is done slowly over time through small manipulative words or actions. The victim begins to doubt their memory, judgment and abilities, ultimately limiting their ability to confidently perform tasks in the workplace or their personal life.

-Dr. Charles Sophy

“If you feel your power being diminished by another, it’s time to question the health of the relationship,” said Dr. Sophy. “Bullies operate everywhere and can be partners, professors, colleagues or grown children.” People who are violent with their partners are often considered bullies, and were most likely bullies or got bullied growing up. Which puts a direct tie to Bullying and Domestic Violence.

A little support can create a lot of change.

Someone who experiences bullying is a lot more likely to struggle with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, self harm, thoughts of suicide, and even attempted suicide. Everyone knows someone. These struggles are sadly so common. So why not talk about it? 

  • Don’t be a bystander. This can give bullying an audience, which encourages the behavior. Instead of laughing, watching, buying into what the bully is saying or doing, or just standing by, you can let the bully know such behavior is NOT okay.
  • Help them get a way from the bully. There are several ways to do this, depending on the situation. Remember to only do this if you feel safe to do so, and never use violence to help the person get away.
    • It can be as simple as walking up and saying something like “Hey, where’s your next class?” or “Mr. so-and-so is looking for you, they need to see you right now. Let’s go.”
    • You can create a distraction so that the bullying doesn’t have an audience, and give everyone a chance to focus on something else.
    • For an adult, this may mean setting physical, emotional, mental and energetic boundaries depending on the situation
  • Tell someone. Such as a trusted adult, such as a teacher, the school counselor, or a parent. They can intervene and also be a support.
  • If you’re an adult, tell someone you trust, such as your partner, therapist, friend, co-worker, or human resources.
  • Set a good example. Bullying is not cool. Be a role model to your family, friends and children. Be a leader and help set that example. You can also take it a step further and get involved in anti-bullying activities and projects.
  • Be their friend. They may really need one. It can be as simple as just being nice and friendly to them, which can go a long way in letting them know someone cares and they aren’t alone.

Learn more about how to STOP bullying and be an advocate at StopBullying.gov

Recovery + Seeking Help.

The first step in recovery is acknowledging the problem. Don’t let the Stigma of bullying, mental health, or going to therapy keep you from getting the help you need and deserve! There are several treatment options, some that don’t even involve much talking, such as EMDRSandTray therapy, and Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy – that can help you process and desensitize your disturbing bullying experiences. The results I’ve experienced are amazing and very powerful!

Experiencing bullying, in many ways like other traumatic events, can lead to a spiritual awakening. It can also help lead us to our dharma (life purpose), like it has done for me. So in that way, it can be, and has been a blessing in disguise. But you must find healing and your own meaning, and you must must must change the shame-based narrative. You must shift the beliefs you have about yourself to tap into your dharma. To find yourself and become your highest self.

If you’re not ready to seek help, that’s okay too. I, for one, didn’t start seeking help until I was in college. We are all on different pages, and in different chapters of our own healing and recovery. You don’t always have a choice if you struggle with bullying and its side effects, but you DO have a choice of how to cope with it. Remember, you are not alone.

Find a therapist near you, here.

Now I would love to hear from you.  

Have you experienced bullying as a child or adult? How have you coped with it? Have you healed from that experience or does it still haunt you? Let me know in the comments below and I look forward to connecting and going deeper with you. Sending much love, self-care, and gratitude. 

Namaste, 

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