How To Cope with Bullies

Bullies are everywhere – in every sphere of life. Some people seem to be born to bully. They can be of varying ages and from various backgrounds. However, they all have certain characteristics in common, such as anger and belligerence. And they derive a certain sadistic pleasure from watching their victims squirm. What can you do about it?

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The tendency to bully often stems from insecurity. Bullying someone gives them a sense of power and makes them feel good about themselves. And the more their victim gives in, the greater the sense of power.

Bullies feel a sense of achievement when they inflict themselves on a victim in public – it validates who they are. They need public acknowledgement of their power over their victims.

Most bullies don’t understand the consequences nor origins of their actions. They don’t realize that there are bullying laws or ‘anti-bullying laws’ that they are violating. And some of these laws may even criminalize bullying in some states. Laws that govern bullying vary from state to state and have different levels of severity.

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There are different forms of bullying – it can be psychological, verbal or physical. And it can happen in different age groups. But it is most common among youngsters – especially in grade school, high school and college.

Bullying is a form of intimidation that is aimed at victims to assert one’s power over them. But the typical bully often backs down when the victim fights back – the bully usually gets deflated and does not target the same victim again.

How To Cope with Bullies

Victims of bullying need to be aware of the options open to them, such as bullying prevention programs. They can also access information from a wide range of resources, such as workbooks, games and DVD’s that provide guidelines to help implement bullying prevention strategies.

Bullies are sometimes people who were victims of bullying themselves. Over time, they tend to take it out on those who are weaker than them. And so the cycle is repeated over and over again.

It is essential to break this cycle – and this can be done only by a victim. The minute a victim stands up to a bully is when the cycle begins to break down. However, standing up to a bully requires strength of mind and a sense of purpose – in addition to belief in oneself.

The determination to sustain the resistance to a bully is required to ensure that the incidents of bullying are not repeated. With sufficient counseling and support from teachers, parents, friends  and counselors, victims of bullying can find it in themselves to stop bullies from getting the better of them.

Some Tips In Confronting A Bully Situation

There are ways to confront and combat psychological and verbal bullying. You can also share this information with friends as a way to show your support for them if they are being bullied:

  • Walk Away. Many think that backing down and walking away makes you a coward. In fact controlling your temper, even in the face of a larger opponent, can be more difficult than lashing out. The prime objectives of a bully are to invoke a response, and to show their superiority. When you walk away, though it may anger them, you’re essentially showing them you will not be pulled into their drama, and through passive resistance you’re not as vulnerable as they thought: Ghandi disarmed the British Empire with passive resistance.
  • Retain Control over Your Emotions. When you allow someone else’s action to illicit a reaction from you, you’re actually giving them power to control your actions. Bullies want to know they have control over your emotions, so maintain your rational thought. Stay calm, stay focused, and think your way through it. If they insult you — i.e. you’re a baby!, you can calmly ask “why do you say that?” or “You’re entitled to your opinion. But I disagree.” Note that this can confuse them, but may also enrage them further, so talk to parents and counselors, or read anti-bullying material for strategies of how to take control of the situation while defusing aggression against you.
  • Use Humor. Often times humor can defuse tense situations. A bully who is geared up for fight can get knocked off balance if made to laugh — as long as the joke is not about them, nor makes them look silly in the eyes of others.
  • Confidence as a Weapon. Confidence in your everyday life tends to take you off a bully’s radar to begin with. But even when they do focus on you, a calm, confident air can make a bully uneasy because they can’t comprehend why in the face of danger you’re remaining unaffected.
  • Confide In Others. When we’re afraid, a feeling of shame sometimes comes with that and we’re simply embarrassed to talk to others about how we feel; afraid to admit that we are frightened, or don’t know what to do. But talking it out with someone you trust can relieve a lot of the stress you are feeling, and often by talking together a strategy of how to proceed will emerge.
  • Keep True Friends Close. Bullying can be inflicted by rumors or gossip. Ignoring and not reacting to such rumors devalues their validity when done so with confidence: you know the truth and are therefore unaffected by lies. You can confide in one or two close friends about how the gossip has hurt your feelings, and set the record straight by telling your friends quietly and confidently what’s true and not true. A friend saying that they know the rumor is not true can ease the weight of what you feel others are thinking about you —  if you know that those close to you are still on your side.
  • Know The Law. There are anti-bullying laws, and victims of bullying should know where they stand legally, and what resources are available to them.

Effective feedback mechanisms and the use of disciplinary measures can ensure tremendous reduction in cases of bullying. If families and educational institutions take it upon themselves to implement these measures, they can help control bullying in schools and communities and liberate all victims from the trauma of further bullying.

For more information about bullies and anti bullying and harassment strategies and techniques, and conflict resolution resources visit the Courage To Change store. 

About Brie Austin

Co-author of I'd Do It Again, he is a columnist/reporter for a variety of magazines in the areas of music, lifestyle, nightlife, travel and business. He also writes business documents and creates copy for websites.

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