What to do against bullying
The self-hatred of abuser and victim
Every one of us has already experienced the following before. Someone in our social surroundings doesn’t like us and tries to make our life a living hell. In school I was one of the guys who got tormented and bullied by the self-instated class tyrant. I felt trapped and helpless, unable to free myself and betrayed by my friends who didn’t try to help me either. Today I realize that the others were terrified as well and I don’t think it was fair to expect much help. At the time I didn’t see any guilt on my side, apart from looking differently than my tyrants.
In my search for ways to escape from the attacks I often found a safe haven in books, computer games and eating even more. Naturally I also tried to follow the different pieces of advice from teachers and parents to prevent attacks from happening but nothing worked. It took a long time to realize how small and insignificant the bullies felt themselves and that is was actually weakness not strength that made them into tyrants.
After more than a decade in which I was the target for this kind of abuse I know the options that seemingly present themselves well and I would like to discuss them here a bit deeper. If you read this and you are someone who has to experience physical or psychical violence, I hope these lines can provide some help.
First we have to acknowledge the fact, that we can’t change the weakness of the bullies, they alone have the power to deal with their own insecurities and self-hatred. We DO have power over our self and our actions, so let’s focus on these. The most important part is that you are not at fault. You are a wonderful human being with the right to live in peace.
So, which options do we have?
1. Remain the victim.
Naturally this isn’t something to strife for, but I’d like to reflect on it for a moment. When we see ourselves as the victim the bully will get the reassurance he seeks. The victim has to continue to tend to his physical or psychological wounds to his best ability.
Become the Bully.
Oftentimes victims will turn into abusers themselves because of the wounds inflicted upon them. Sometimes they even seek relief by inflicting pain on younger siblings or defenseless animals.
2. Neutrality (passive aggressive?)
Adults (Parents / Teachers) often try to help with the advice to act neutral to prevent giving the abuser the satisfaction he seeks. Since it’s practically impossible to remain truly neutral and since there often is no easier target in reach the abuse often continues. In the end the outcome is sadly most of the time the same as in Option 1. And even if we are successful the bully will most likely search an easier target and continue his abuse.
For many people the first impulse is not to counter violence with violence when they are attacked by a seemingly stronger opponent, instead they will try to escape. Since it’s often not possible to escape physically they often endure the violence and escape mentally. Sooner or later though everyone will stop escaping and start to fight back. This can actually convince the abuser to stop, but most of the time they will even welcome it as an opportunity to gain even more temporary self-esteem from the victim, who is desperately trying to fight back.
Only when they’ve been pushed to the utmost limits, to the point where their inner self is only seconds away from breaking apart, some tap into the dark side of their soul and use their own pain and suffering to inflict even more pain onto the former abuser. This is why school shootings happen, not because of the videogames or books the victim used to escape.
In my past I’ve found myself in this situation as well. Before this point I was lucky enough, to have friends in my life which helped me through the rough patches in their own way. At the point where I used violence to escape from a bad bullying situation I didn’t use physical force, I crushed him mentally. One evening I just told him with this certain stillness in my voice what might happen to him and all the horrible ideas born from the wounds inflicted over the years came forth (some probably stolen from horror movies but who cares). To see the fear in the eye of my enemy and to hear his voice break when he begged me to take my words back, felt like a blessing for a moment. I have to admit the satisfaction remained longer than I’d truly like to admit.
The most important part was that I finally found the courage to step away from the role of victim; only then was I able to see him for who he really was. Today I only feel pity for this miserable human being. Through his actions he became the same kind of outsider which he bullied before.
We can often only see how similar the abuser actually is to his victim, when we manage to get some distance from the situation. Both, victim and abuser are not in balance with their inner self and because of this not in balance with the world. From this imbalance stems their self-hatred which becomes apparent in the abuse. Nobody is only abuser or only victim; all of us carry the seed for good and evil in ourselves. It is our duty as human beings to nurture the good seed and to develop our inner and outer self.
I was only able to let go of the past, my hatred, my anger, my sadness and most importantly my self-hatred and to reinvent myself, after I forgave my abusers and saw them for what they really are, victims of their circumstances and of their own weaknesses. Even now, while I’m writing these lines, there is still someone I couldn’t forgive so far. Some wounds reach so deep that it is incredibly painful to open them up again, so that you can treat them with love and remove the dirt from them.
If you have been the victim of such violence that it seems impossible to open up these wounds again, I ask you kindly to seek help. There is no shame in seeking out a doctor for the deep wounds, may they be physically or mentally. Doctors normally know best how to proceed and if it is wise to maybe leave the bullet in the wound to prevent further harm. It depends on our situation if this “doctor” needs a certificate or only a kind and loving heart.
Take the first step today and start with one of the smaller wounds. I extend my hand and heart to you. Let us take the next step on our road of life together. And when you can see your path clearly and feel grounded and secure you can reach out to help others. You will be surprised how you could have ever felt alone with so many likeminded people.
Thank you for being here.