To me, I don’t see much difference between victims of bullying or domestic violence. The emotional trauma is similar. They feel powerless, unworthy and may suffer from anxiety or depression.
Even when you look at the definition of bullying, it is very similar to the description of domestic violence & abuse. Any type of violence or abuse against people – is abuse against humanity.
A high percentage of bullies will become abusive partners in adulthood and victims of bullying may attract abusive partners in adulthood (not all, as some victims overcome the bullying to live confident happy lives)
That’s why it is so important for teenager victims to learn how to rebuild their confidence so that they don’t attract an abusive partner later in life.
As adult victims of bullying, it can sometimes be more difficult to detect or report especially if it’s in the workplace and the bully is your boss. They can be more subtle or insidious with their comments.
If you believe someone is being bullied, don’t ignore the signs or pass it off as, ‘I’m sure they are just stressed’.
That may be the case, but if you don’t ask the question then you may never know.
- Take the person aside privately and ask how they are feeling. Look to see if they fidget or don’t maintain eye contact when answering. These signs could indicate they aren’t telling the whole truth.
- Reassure them that you aren’t there to judge, you are just concerned for their wellbeing. If it’s in the workplace then reassure them that their job is not in jeopardy.
- You may need to keep reassuring them, don’t rush them, and let them tell you what is happening in their own time.
- Show empathy not sympathy. Show concern not disinterest. Listen actively and respond back with, ‘so what I’m hearing is that you feel victimised’ (or whatever word they have used).
- Together you can work out a plan of action, on how the person can protect themselves from being bullied in the future.
“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.” – Tim Fields
If it’s in the workplace, then document everything including times and dates that you were bullied. This can also work in the school yard.
- Confront the bully (if you can); but make sure you have a witness, someone whom you trust with you. Look them directly in the eye and tell them how their comments hurt you.
- Don’t be upset if they have no idea what you are talking about. A bullying is incapable of understanding another person’s feelings.
- Tell them you have documented everything and if they don’t stop then you will report them.
- Don’t allow them to see you are afraid or visibly upset by their behaviour. Remain calm and in control when talking to them.
- If the bullying continues then seek the advice of your HR department or Union representative.
If you have tried talking and it hasn’t worked, then you will need to report it.
When making a statement take your documentation and any witness with you. Your statement should be clear and try to avoid getting emotional.
If you show that you are afraid or visibly upset then that’s a red flag to a bully.
And, always get professional help, for the emotional trauma you have suffered from the bullying. Don’t try to deal with your emotions alone.