"Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one." (Eleanor Roosevelt)
Bullying can occur at any age and is not something just affecting younger people. Bullying is commonly encountered at school, at work, at home, and elderly people can be especially vulnerable too. In the last decade there has been an explosion of people experiencing cyberbullying – the growth in technology and the ability to post and see content 24 hours a day means this is a now a serious issue.
Bullying can take many different forms and this depends a lot on the context. But somewhere involved is likely to be verbal threats, a sense of threat to your livelihood / income / wellbeing, physical intimidation or assault, defamation or ridicule (common in cyberbullying). A useful definition for bullying is repeated behaviour with intent to hurt another, which leaves them feeling isolated and unhappy. It is really about the intention, which is where the distinction between bullying and banter might be found.
Bullying can rob you of your confidence and diminish your self-esteem. It can take lots of courage to seek help, and sometimes people might be stuck in such a rut they may not realise they are being bullied, and instead seek help for symptoms that might stem from bullying. For example associated issues can include: social anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, self-harm, suicidal thoughts.
If you feel you are being bullied, support is available and you are not alone going through this. There are some agencies listed on my Resources page that can help you.
Can therapy help?
It can help to talk about what you are going through in a supportive environment - to discuss what is happening without judgement and explore what options you have - so therapy is one option open to you.
There are a number of things that therapy is likely to cover and would help with – these include taking a look at your inner experiences and exploring patterns of interactions with others, working on practical strategies to raise confidence levels, and working to change reduce negative thinking patterns that keep you feeling stuck. A therapist might also work with you to access practical help, if this is required.
I think someone I know is being bullied, but they won’t talk about it. How can I know?
This can be difficult as sometimes people keep their concerns a secret in order to save their friends and family from worry. Some signs to look out for include these:
· Withdrawing and general tiredness
· Changes in general attitude towards life
· More irritable and shorter temper
· Taking more time off school/work with sickness
· Frequent headaches and nausea
Here is a very useful site with advice on how to talk to someone who you suspect is being bullied.