Bullying and what it was like

by - July 05, 2020

Bullying is something I realised I've experienced, but haven’t spoken about on here. I wanted to create a post with hope that maybe it can help someone else, can be relatable or start a conversation about it. I hope for those of you that can relate, that this brings comfort to you and reminds you that you are not alone in your experience.

I never quite understood just how much bullying can impact someone until I went through it. Even when it was happening to me, I was almost embarassed / felt uncomfortable labelling the behaviour for what it was. I also often found that certain people would be adamant about labelling it as something else to try and play it down, which did not help. It meant that for years, I did not see it as bullying. Now, a few years later, I can recognise bullying is what it clearly was. Whilst I’m a stronger and more confident person that can stand up for myself, the memories of the spiteful things some people did and said will stay with me forever. This is not a post looking for sympathy and I know this experience is not unique to me. I created this with an aim to help and as the advice I wish I was given when I experienced it. In this post, I want to talk about some of what I went through and things that I found helped me or feel could help someone in a similar situation. My bullying happened in a school context. But it should be acknowledged that bullying although very often thought of as being reserved to school settings can happen elsewhere - it can happen to anyone, anywhere and shouldn’t be downplayed or ignored.

Things that would have helped / have helped me: How to deal with bullying

Recognising the behaviour for what it is. 

This can be really difficult and, I suppose is somewhat ironic coming from me, considering that I didn’t see it for what it was then when I experienced it. When people are horrible and continually exclude you from everything, talk behind your back and sometimes physically grab you, or corner you it’s not just a couple of one-offs. Nor is it that you aren’t likeable or good enough. There is nothing wrong with calling it for what it is - bullying and it's important so that you don't invalidate yourself. In my case, the bullying coincided with the knock in my confidence common to teenage girls. My insecurities led me to downplay the situation often and look for all the reasons I could potentially be to blame. I also recognise I had many toxic friendships that didn’t help. But, realising that someone’s behaviour isn’t on you and is unacceptable is the first way of beginning to handle it better. It allows you to see it for what it is and as such know that you are not at fault.

Ditch the whole “the bully is going through a bad time and that’s why they’re targeting me” mentality. 

Honestly, when it comes to bullying I think this is one of, if not the most harmful mentality. Why? Because it justifies the bullies’ actions and invalidates your feelings. Someone going through difficult circumstances can be an explanation for their behaviour. But, it should never be a justification and it is too often used to detach importance from the bullying when that can have a huge impact on someone's life.  Bullying is something that if you have experienced it, you will always remember. At the end of the day, every single one of us will go through difficult experiences in life (even though I’m aware due to a range of inequalities some have it much harder than others). Someone going through hard points in their life doesn’t excuse treating others awfully for something that’s completely out of their control and not their fault. If anything, pain from difficult circumstances should be a reason not to put someone else through it. Especially if the bully has knowledge that they are hurting someone else, which they usually do, they should have enough self-awareness to recognise that what they are doing isn't right and be able to apologise/ change their behaviour. Don’t let people try and convince you that the bullying you are going through is insignificant because it’s simply a reflection of the bully going through a hard time. It is not insignificant if it is hurting and impacting you. ***I do not in any way mean by this to disregard what can be a manifestation of trauma or underlying something a lot more serious. I just think that this reason is too often used as an excuse to devalue or gaslight someone else's experience - this I don't agree with and was actually a very harmful mindset for my mental health.

Toxic friendships. 

Walk away from toxic friendships and friendships that condone the behaviour. This can actually be really hard - I know because I remember it so well. Plus often if you are being bullied, it can feel like you have no real friends. It takes bravery to walk away and in a way is part of your journey of self-love to recognise that you deserve better and that you will find other people. When you get trapped in toxic friendships, it’s all too easy to get caught in the mentality that you actually need them as friends, especially because when people are so mean, you tend to want to cling on to anything you have. But, walking away stops you being as surrounded by people who do not value you for who you are, even if you do continue to be bullied. No company is better than bad company. 

Block people. 

For cyberbullying: block people and delete unkind messages (but make sure you screenshot them and save them on your computer in case you ever need evidence). Technology and its misuse for cyberbullying is sad and can mean that it feels like you can never escape the bullying. But, if there is one advantage of it being on your phone it is that you don't have to read any messages you don't want to. Take a break from your phone and do not be afraid to block accounts, phone numbers and report it if it is happening on social media platforms. Then log out. You deserve better.

You have a voice. 

You are not just a victim, you’re a warrior and you have a voice to tell your story. Sharing with others what you are going through is important. When you’re the target of unkind behaviour 24/7 or even just over time, you can begin to think that you’re worthless and that your side of the story doesn’t matter. It does. It always will. It can be easy to fall into a trap that there are people who have it worse so what you have experienced does not matter. That is not true - there will always be somebody in a worse situation and a better situation- that does not invalidate your experience. Comparison is unhelpful when it comes to dealing with personal battles and behaviour that is unacceptable in the first place. There will be someone that you can talk to that can support you - whether that be a close friend, family member or a counsellor. 

There’s a lot I’ve learnt and grown from having experienced bullying and I don’t want this to be a post people see to pity me - I know there are individuals who have had worse experiences. Rather, I hope that you use this post to learn and hopefully take something useful. As this is a big topic, I have tackled more in relation to coping with it in a post called dealing with unkind people. In that post, I explain what helped me the most to deal with the behaviour.

If anyone going through this now is reading this post, I’m sending you virtual hugs. It’s hard, but you will get through it and you’ll come out of it a stronger person.

Help keep me going ๐Ÿ˜Œ

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