Have you been bullied? Have you been a bully? Don’t suffer in silence

Do you feel… humiliated, ridiculed, left out, controlled, discriminated against, anxious, loss of confidence, low self-esteem, angry, frustrated, fearful, depressed?

In today’s world bullying and harassment of all types are on the increase and becoming more acceptable and present in everyday life. Research shows that 1 in 2 adults will be affected by bullying at some point in their life time, either directly or indirectly, with the most vulnerable in our society being at greatest risk. Face to face, text, email and social media are used to bully within our communities, workplaces and relationships.

What is Bullying?

There is no legal definition of bullying. But it is usually defined as repeated behaviour which is intended to hurt someone either emotionally or physically, and is often aimed at certain people because of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation or any other aspect such as appearance, ability or disability.

Bullying is divided into four basic types of abuse – emotional (sometimes called relational), verbal, physical, and cyber. It typically involves subtle methods of coercion, such as intimidation. It may include:

  • Physical assault
  • Teasing
  • Making threats
  • Name calling
  • Cyber bullying

If bullying is done by a group, it is called mobbing in which the bully may have one or more “lieutenants” who may seem to be willing to assist the primary bully in his or her bullying activities. Bullying in school and the workplace is also referred to as peer abuse. A bullying culture can develop in any context in which humans interact with each other. This includes school, family, the workplace, churches, community groups and neighbourhoods.

The most important factor in bullying is the impact upon the target, if somebodies behaviour upsets you and they continue to behave in the same way once you have explained it to them, then they are doing it intentionally. In the case of children under the age of 18 you may also want to consider their levels of emotional maturity when deciding if their behaviour is intentional or not.

Here are some examples of bullying/harassment behaviour:

  • Ridiculing, demeaning, humiliating someone, including spreading rumours or making individuals feel left out.
  • Unwelcome sexual advances-touching, standing too close, display of offensive materials
  • Making threats or comments about job security without foundation.
  • Overbearing supervision or other misuse of power or position.
  • Preventing individuals progressing by intentionally blocking training opportunities.

Things to think about:

  • Has the behaviour happened more than once?
  • Does the behaviour have a negative impact upon you?

Some examples of negative impact:

  • Anxiety, depression, sadness and/or stress related illness
  • Humiliation, loss of confidence/self esteem
  • Isolation caused by avoidance of the situation or places where the bullying/harassment has taken place
  • Absence from work both short or long term
  • Accident prone-more than before the bullying started
  • Anger, Frustration, Tearfulness

Who does bullying/harassment happen to?

It can happen to anybody irrelevant of age, gender, race, ability, disability, religion, sexuality or any other factor.

If you feel you are being bullied/harassed then there is no need to feel ashamed, embarrassed or alone. We encourage you to take action and make contact with us. We can help you find a way forward, through our information, support and training service.

Bullying… Why Me?

Bullies target others because they feel threatened by the target or simply because the target was there and available to be preyed upon.

Bullies behaviour is manipulative, predatory, opportunistic and under hand.

You may have been targeted because you are a person with integrity, competent, popular, have strength of character, are slow to anger, are different in some way eg illness or injury, race, gender, gender orientation, religion, sexuality, disability or have a vulnerability of some kind. Bullies act without integrity and feel intimated by people who display it.

Sometimes bullies act with no reason other than for the sense of power they get from realising that something they have done has provoked a reaction in their target. This is a way of feeling better about themselves and exerting power because hidden underneath a fake appearance of confidence they have low self-esteem, feel powerless, insecure, inadequate and vulnerable. Truly confident people do not need to belittle others.

Within the workplace, bullying is often triggered by organisational change, economic downturn which makes the bully’s job more difficult than normal or if the target unwittingly draws attention to the bullies flaws, refuses to act illegally or outside of the rule, stands up for somebody else, brings a grievance,  undertakes trade union duties or receives positive attention.

Very often targets are too fearful to bring grievances and when they do, they are often left alone, and vulnerable, which can lead to isolation, anxiety and depression.

Many people who contact DABS (Dorset Anti-Bullying Service) for support to recover from Workplace Bullying have a history of domestic abuse, are people pleasers with low self-esteem.

The pattern of abuse will continue until the target takes their power back and starts to take care of themselves first.

Getting support as soon as possible is fundamental to ensure you start to recover.

How counselling can help?

Counselling is sharing your difficulties & feelings, in order to help you to find understanding of what has been happening, to enable change to take place and to build resilience and robust mental health.

Dorset Anti-Bullying Service can refer you to a professionally trained counsellor who will adhere to a strict ethical code of practice, available on request.