Written by Steve Simpson the author of The Teenage and YoungAdult Survival Handbook
People wonder why I’m so sensitive. People laugh because other people can take insults and jokes and I can’t. I get angry, sad and depressed, which makes people make fun of me even more. What they don’t know is that making fun of me or bullying me is nothing new. Long before I ever stepped foot in a school I was a victim of bullying. It wasn’t another student and it wasn’t a neighbor. It was someone in my own family. Maybe it was because they were drunk, but whatever the reason, by the time I entered school I had already lived years of being put down, made to feel worthless and had my self-esteem ripped apart. Let’s not forget that the overwhelming damage of bullying is not so much done in schools or in the workplace, but at home. Because there is no worse bully than a child’s own father or mother. I can tell you from experience that verbal abuse can at times be just as harmful or even deadly as physical abuse. I know, I’ve had both. The physical wounds healed, but the emotional wounds left scars, which can affect a person their whole life.
How can it be deadly, you ask? Because many have been pushed to commit suicide as a result of bullying by one of their own parents or adults in the house; step father, step mother, mother’s boyfriend, father’s girlfriend. Bullying at home may make someone more susceptible or vulnerable to bullying elsewhere. By the time these children go to school almost all of their emotional protective layers have been ripped away by their own family, making them an open target for bullies that can sometimes sense this vulnerability. Now the bullying at school and other places just makes them think that everything their parents said were right, “Now even they’re saying these things about me.”
For those being bullied, if you can honestly say that you’ve had verbal abuse in your own home then the answer is to work on the damage that that abuse has caused. Once you stop hurting over the things your own family members have said and grow to realize that these things are not true, you will find it much easier to deflect the names thrown at you at school or work. They won’t have the same effect on you or possibly even not hurt you at all. It’s not a matter of you being weak. Nobody can grow up being verbally abused in their own home and then not have problems or be vulnerable outside your home.
One of the most important things to learn and work on is your own self-worth and self-esteem. When my self-esteem was low I would easily believe anything negative said about me. Once I had a high self-esteem, people could not hurt me as easily by just saying things to or about me. I remember many fights I had even gotten into or over being called names. Once I had some self-worth that didn’t seem as important to me. When we feel good about ourselves we are then able to see the
source of where the bullying comes from. Is it because that person has an alcohol or drug addiction? Does that person simply want attention? Does that person have self-esteem issues too and the only way they can feel confident is by knocking someone else down? People can make themselves feel popular because they get others to laugh with them, but one whose popularity is based solely on getting people to laugh at others is false. You don’t want to get in a habit of harshly judging others but once you see through the person that is verbally attacking you, it takes away the sting of their words.
How do you get help to raise your self-esteem and self-worth? Certainly if you are in school there are school counselors, social workers and psychologists to help and you will find they understand you and your situation more than you thought. Community centers and churches many times also have counselors, 12 step programs and support groups. Please keep in mind that if you are a child of an alcoholic or have some abuse or dysfunction in your home that is more of a cause of your problems than the bully at school. When you get help you will realize that the effects from your home problems affected you a lot more than you thought, and made you vulnerable to begin with to the bullying. When you work on the problems from home and gain a self-esteem and self-worth once again you will be strong and capable to not let the bullying affect you at all. Remember many are subject to bullying. You are not alone in this and you will see that when you get help by one of the places that I’ve recommended.
For those of you that think that name calling and bullying is really no big deal and can’t figure out what certain peoples “problem” is or why they act the way they do when you’re simply “teasing them”, I hope you will come to realize that it may not be so much what you’re saying to them but what they are going through in their lives. By taunting and bullying these people you are actually becoming part of the abuse that they are going through at home. You are no better than the adults who are committing child abuse because you are helping their abuse have an even greater effect on their victims. Many abuse victims can hide their situations very well. Would you really want to even take a chance of picking on one of these individuals? Furthermore, you have to ask yourself why you have such a need to make fun of or put down others. Could you perhaps use some help for your self-esteem and self-worth?
Finally, if you are simply a bystander to someone’s bullying or name calling, you can increase your own self-worth and self-esteem by either defending the person who is being bullied or at least letting everybody know that you don’t agree with this at all, and that it’s not cool. Maybe you can even try to say some kind words to the person being bullied and make sure they are okay.
Bullying or verbally attacking anyone from any family background is wrong and cowardly. However, doing it to someone who already has their fill of problems is worse than cruel. Something to think about. Instead of being a bully how about being a hero?