We’re sure you’ve heard the saying “hurt people hurt people”, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier if someone is hurting you. Trying to face the torment head on can feel damn near impossible. Luckily, you’ve got us in your corner to help. The Mix explores how to beat a bully.
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 anyone. From your partner, your mates, or your family, all the way to people you’ve never even met before online.
Bullying takes many forms. These include: leaving people out of a social circle, racist and homophobic abuse, being singled out as ‘different’ in some way, sexual abuse, discrimination, getting taunted repeatedly, being forced to hand over money or possessions, or violent physical attacks.
Am I being bullied?
Before we can look at how to beat a bully, let’s discuss what bullying actually is.
Sometimes bullying is pretty obvious – you’re getting a constant stream of hate over the internet and / or you dread going to school. However, bullying can sometimes be extremely subtle; often it’s our friends who bully us, under the guise of ‘it’s only a joke’. This is when it gets hard to beat bullying.
But if it’s deliberately being done to hurt your feelings, it’s bullying. It’s also bullying if you’ve told them to stop and they don’t. Even if it wasn’t their intention to cause you harm in the first place.
“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, then the answer is pretty clear. They can’t justify it by saying ‘we’re just joking’.”
How to beat bullying
“It’s not OK to dread going to school or using the internet, it’s not OK to be tormented,” says Dr Aaron. “Relentless bullying can take its toll on your self-esteem, so please don’t hide what’s happening.”
Oftentimes, bullies are able to get away with it because their victims are too worried about the repercussions to report what’s happening. This is why you need to find someone you trust and tell them what’s going on. Together you can come up with a game plan on how to handle the situation.
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 the doubting and fear to start cropping up,” he says.
“The moment you realise you’re talking to yourself like the bully, e.g. ‘You’re no good, nobody likes you,’ tell yourself to STOP. Instead, think about the people who love you and what makes you happy in life. It’s bad enough being bullied in your everyday life – work hard to avoid giving them the power invade your thoughts 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. We’ve also added some 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.
- Naked photos of you have been shared around school/college/online.
- People are using social networking sites to spread lies about you under the guise of ‘banter’.
- Your friends are deliberately leaving you out.
Is bullying illegal?
Bullying is not just hurtful, it can also be illegal. This means that 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.
- If 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,” Jennifer tells us.
- If the bully makes a concentrated effort to isolate you from your friends. For example, by spreading rumours or intimidating others into not associating with you. This would constitute harassment or stalking.
So, legally what can I do if I’m being bullied?
Sometimes just the threat of legal charges can be enough to scare a bully off. Jennifer talks us through the process. “The age of criminal responsibility is 10, so you or your parents can press charges against your bully. The police are often reluctant to do this, but it’s your right as a victim,” she says.
Pressing charges doesn’t mean it’s certain that any legal action will be taken, but it’ll go on your bully’s police record. Our article about Victim Support talks you through the process of reporting a crime here.
Coping with memories of childhood bullying
Being bullied can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, and self-harm. We understand that it can seem easier to repress bad memories of bullying than face them. But pushing problems deeper down doesn’t make them go away. In fact, it just allows them to grow bigger and cut deeper.
Start by opening up to a close friend or family member – or even just writing your feelings down. You may find that simply sharing that pain in a kind and supportive environment is the thing you need to help you move on. Often, opening up to a friend can open their eyes to what you’re going through.
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 (on 116 123) or BullyingUK (on 0808 800 2222). Supportline also offers confidential emotional support for a range of problems by email, phone and post.
- 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.
- 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.
By Nishika Melwani
Updated on 09-Jan-2022
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