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Let's talk about Bullying

This week is Anti Bullying Week. Most of us are probably no strangers to bullying and have experienced bullying in some form or other to a greater or lesser extent.

Bullying is often thought to be something that happens in schools and we have all heard the phrase “kids can be so cruel”. And it's true. Children can be cruel and bullying does happen a lot in schools. But it can also happen in the workplace, in social groups, sports and relationships- basically bullying can and does happen anywhere.

You might think that certain people are more like to be bullied than others but in actual fact bullying can happen to anyone.


Bullying can take verbal, physical, mental and emotional form and often happens online too, meaning the person that is being bullied never gets any break or respite from their tormentors.

Bullying hurts a lot due to its personal nature.

You might experience feelings of worthlessness, shame and anxiety.

You might feel helpless and depressed.

The constant stress of being bullied might mean that you are struggling to sleep.

You might also experience suicidal thoughts.


Bullying doesn't just have an impact in the moment, it can and does have a lasting impact. The wounds cut deep and it might take a long time for you to re-build your self esteem and sense of self worth.

Bullying is a devastating and upsetting experience and it is extremely difficult to tolerate. You might feel scared of speaking up or telling anyone in case it makes the bullying worse.

Often the advice is to either challenge or ignore the bully.

But how can you challenge someone you are afraid of?

Who seems to hold all the power?

How can you challenge someone when you feel worthless and alone?

And similarly how can you ignore the taunts and insults?


Often it is not just one person who does the bullying but you might experience a group of people shaming and humiliating you. The bullies are often charming to everyone else and you might feel like who would believe you if you spoke up?

If you are experiencing bullying in the workplace you might also worry about losing your job.


Here are some of the effects being bullied might have on you or that you might experience:

Loss of self esteem and confidence

Anxiety

Depression

Not being able to sleep

Nightmares

Social isolation

Suicidal thoughts

Feelings of worthlessness

Feelings of shame

Doubting yourself

Experiencing a constant level of stress


What can you do if you are being bullied?


Ask for help. Please don't suffer in silence because that is what bullying thrives on. There is help and support out there. I know this can feel daunting and risky even but seek out someone you trust. You don't have to go through this alone! There are organisations (please see the end of this post) who offer help, advice and support.


Keep a record of what is happening. When you are being bullied, you might doubt yourself and your experiences. Keeping a record will help to validate what you are experiencing and might be helpful if you decide to report the bullying.


Another thing to remember is that it is not you! Bullying feels extremely personal but it can happen to absolutely anyone. A bully will always find a reason to bully you.

You are a worthy human being just the way you are. Hold on to who you are and to your truth.


Take care of yourself. Bullying is an extremely stressful experience and prolonged stress can have a negative impact on your physical and mental wellbeing and health. Because bullying can make you feel worthless and depressed, you might stop doing the things you enjoy and that are good for you. Please don't. Self care is really important and so are you!


Therapy can also help you to process your feelings and what is happening. It is a safe space for you to be listened to and heard.

Always remember that even though the bully might try to silence you, you do have a voice and you deserve to be heard!


I have personal experience of being bullied so I want to share a little bit with you in the hope that it might help someone and to let you know that you are not alone!


I was badly bullied at school. I would be verbally attacked on a daily basis about how I looked, the clothes I wore, how I spoke, about hitting puberty early. I would be ignored and treated like I didn't exist. I would be ridiculed and humiliated. I was scared of going to school and on some days I would pretend to feel unwell so that I would be sent home. I often returned home from school in tears. I felt helpless. My parents intervened and eventually things improved.

To this day I still struggle with certain things like making friends and I worry that people dislike me, especially in group settings. I managed to rebuild some of my self esteem through therapy and I am doing okay.


Luckily today there is more awareness of bullying and its impact and help and support is out there and accessible. Bullying is no longer seen as “character building” and “something that just happens” and the more we bring its devastation out into the open, hopefully less people will suffer.

I know first hand the long term impact bullying can have and how deeply the wounds go. But I also know that you can survive bullying and you can go on to live your life and thrive.

Bullying is an awful experience but it doesn't have to define you.





Organisations that offer Help and Support


National Bullying Helpline

0300 323 0169


Anti-Bullying Alliance


ChildLine

0800 1111


Kidscape


NHS



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