If you’re being bullied you might feel like there's no way out. Find out how to break the cycle and get rid of bullying for good.
What is bullying?
Bullying usually involves a person or group exploiting the fact they feel more powerful than another – both physically and emotionally. You can be bullied by your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your mates, your family, and people you’ve never even met before online.
Bullying takes many forms, including: leaving people out of a social circle, racist and homophobic abuse, being singled out as ‘different’ in some way, sexual abuse, discrimination, being taunted about your family situation, being forced to hand over money or possessions, or violent physical attacks.
Am I being bullied?
Sometimes bullying is pretty obvious – you’re getting a constant stream of hate over the internet and you dread going to school. However, bullying can be more subtle too; often it’s our friends who bully us, under the guise of ‘it’s only a joke’.
But if it’s deliberately being done to hurt your feelings, it’s bullying.
“It’s all to do with the intent of the person doing it,” says psychotherapist Dr Aaron Balick. “If it’s meant to hurt you, then it’s bullying. Bullies like to get a rise out of their victims and make them feel bad about themselves.”
Jennifer Perry, an online crime expert, says. “In law, they use the phrase ‘normal person’. So would a normal person view this behaviour as bullying? If it’s a pattern of behaviour, they can’t justify it by saying ‘we’re just joking’.”
What do I do if I’m being bullied?
We know you’re scared (or maybe even embarrassed), but it’s important not to keep this a secret.
“It’s not OK to feel scared all the time, it’s not OK to be tormented,” says Dr Aaron. “Relentless bullying can take its toll on your self-esteem, so don’t hide what’s happening.”
Bullies are able to get away with it because their victims are too scared to report what’s happening. Find someone you trust and tell them what’s going on. Together you can come up with a way to deal with it.
What you don’t want, according to Dr Aaron, is to allow a bully to get inside your head. “That means the bully doesn’t even need to be there for you to feel crap about yourself,” he says.
“The moment you realise you’re talking to yourself like the bully, e.g. ‘You’re no good, nobody likes you,’ STOP. Instead, think about the people who love you and what makes you happy in life. It’s bad enough being bullied ‘out there’- – don’t give them that power to get inside your head and make it worse.”
Common bullying issues
While every case of bullying is unique, here at The Mix we’ve identified some common issues that young people have to face with advice from experts on what to do next. Just click on the links if you’re going through any of the below…
You’re facing a lot of abuse online, known as cyberbullying or trolling
Is bullying illegal?
Not only is bullying hurtful, it can also be illegal and your bullies could be liable to prosecution. Jennifer says the most common examples of this are:
- When you’re physically or sexually assaulted.
- When your property is damaged in some way.
- Someone threatens you with violence, rape, or death.
- Outing someone as gay or bi could be considered hate crime.
- When the bullying becomes stalking. “A good indication of this is contacting the victim in multiple ways, e.g. at school, social media, and showing up where they are – it demonstrates you’re being specifically targeted,” says Jennifer.
- If the bully makes a concentrated effort to make you isolated. For example, by spreading rumours or intimidating others into not associating with you – this would constitute as harassment or stalking.
So, legally what can I do if I’m being bullied?
Sometimes just the threat of legal charges can scare a bully off. Jennifer talks us through the process. “The age of criminal responsibility is 10, so you or your parents have a right to press charges against your bully. The police can be reluctant to do this, but it’s your right as a victim,” she says.
Pressing charges doesn’t mean any legal action will be taken, but it will go on your bully’s police record. Our article about Victim Support talks you through the process of reporting a crime here.
What if the police don’t help?
“If the police refuse to take action you can ask for a case review,” says Jennifer. “Then a more senior officer has to review it. If you’re still not satisfied, you can complain to the Independent Complaints Commission (IPCC).
Coping with memories of childhood bullying
Being bullied can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, and self-harm. It can seem easier to repress bad memories of bullying than face them, but pushing problems deeper down doesn’t make them go away.
Start by opening up to a close friend or family member – or even by writing your feelings down. You may find that simply sharing your bad memories in a kind and supportive environment is enough to help you move on. Often, opening up to a friend can help them realise just how much support you need.
If this is the case, counselling may be the best route forward – you can talk to your GP about a referral, or contact the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy. Alternatively, you can talk to someone anonymously through a helpline such as Samaritans or Saneline.
- BullyingUK offers advice and support to victims of bullying. Call on 0808 800 2222.
- Anyone can contact the Samaritans on their 24-hour helpline to talk things through. 116 123
- Supportline offers confidential emotional support for a range of problems by email, phone and post.
- Do you want to understand your relationship better? Love Smart helps you work it all out.
- Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
- Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.
Updated on 29-Sep-2015
Photo by SpeedKingz
Domestic Abuse Myths
We spoke to Solace Women's Aid about spotting domestic ...
Disability and sexual confidence
Having a disability doesn't mean you can't have a great ...
How to talk to your friends about sexual consent
Sexual consent is a part of a normal sex life but how ...
Usualising intersex – I don’t need normalising
Anick shares his experience of coming out as intersex.
Is sexting illegal?
What is sexting and how safe is it? We spoke to Ellie ...