(For those of you who’ve seen my blog before and checked out all of my pages, you’ve seen at least part of this one before, but it’s been updated recently, and I’ve decided to display all future updates in posts as well.)
I’m calling this new series “One Slice of My Life”. It’s all about me, and my personal struggle with bullying.
Get to know the person behind the posts as you read each portion of this, one, slice of my life. Hope you like it
- Getting my dukes up is a challenge, because it means always having to be alert, to plan ahead, and to react quickly. None of this comes naturally to me. With effort, I’ve managed to “stay alert and plan ahead” pretty well, but I’m still not sure how to get the “react quickly” piece going. (Apr. 2013)
- On the positive side, things do seem to be getting better for me in my own personal struggle with bullying. Where I lack swiftness, I think I make up for it with determination. (May. 2013)
- It’s been almost 8 months since the shark lady at my job has shown any form of aggression towards me. Finally I can say for certain that the bully that plagued me for nearly seven months is no longer on my back. I attribute it mostly to a miracle from God (I’ll tell you that story another time), and partly to the fight I put up by following all of the advice I posted in my blog. Yes, I was my own guinea pig, and I didn’t just survive the experiment, I triumphed. (Jan. 2014)
- I don’t consider myself a shark slayer, a title used in the movie Shark Tale, because the shark still lives, and she is still sinking her teeth into my coworkers each and every day. She’s just not sinking them into me — for now. I will never put my guard down. I will keep my dukes up at all times (Feb. 2014)
- Now that the shark is off my tail, regrettably I find myself in an equally vexatious circumstance that, once again, involves the “B-word”, and I’m not only talking about the word “bully”. This time, instead of a shark I’m up against a school of nasty piranha, a small group of women at my job, who have chosen to harass me. They mistook my smile and courteous manner for weakness, and began an insidious attack. This clan of grown up mean girls makes open remarks about my appearance as I pass them in the mornings. They watch me throughout the day to find something that they can use to get the shark back on my case. I didn’t want to appear overly sensitive, so I ignored their behavior for two months, and finally, one week ago, they went too far. They lodged a formal complaint against me for wearing a visible bandage. They told my supervisor that I was a risk to others because I was bleeding all over the place. When the supervisor came to investigate, he could clearly see that they had lied. I filed a formal complaint with the powers that be, and I am prepared to do whatever it takes to discourage any future such encounters.(Feb. 2014)
Drawing by Vidacaramela
Standing up to a Bully is never an easy thing to do. It requires nerves of steel, and a thick skin. Whether you are the target of a bully, or an innocent bystander, chances are you will think more than twice before you act. It’s much easier to second guess yourself if you are the target, or to “blame the victim” if you are an observer. Since no one is perfect, the focus is shifted from the behavior of the bully, to the faults of the target. When this occurs, it needs to be recognized for what it really is… Fear. It’s the battered wife who thinks she deserved the beating because she made her husband mad. It’s the child who thinks she’s too fat, or ugly to deserve respect on the playground. Its the coworker who thinks his colleague who was humiliated by an administrator during the staff meeting, somehow earned it, because she’s new and she hasn’t been very friendly. The truth is, a bully does not need a good reason to inflict pain. They get the sense of power when they do. When they can’t deal with their own pain, they unleash their pain on others, and fire at will. The devil doesn’t make them do it, and neither do the targets of their agression.
First, people need to recognize bullying for what it is. Bullying should never be confused with personality conflict. Bullying involves repeated mistreatment of a target by one or more individuals. Webster’s dictionary defines a bully as a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker. When we see a bully push a kid on the playground or take away his lunch money, we have no problem identifying the behavior as bullying. But when the bully uses emotional abuse instead of physical abuse, or when both the bully and the target are adults, it’s much harder to peg. From studies of workplace abuse, Blase & Blase (2006) derived a list of non-verbal emotionally abusive behaviors, which include staring, dirty looks, snubbing. ignoring, violations of physical space, finger pointing, and slamming or throwing objects (p. 124). Blase & Blase also site examples of abusive verbal behaviors, including angry outbursts, yelling and screaming, put downs, lying, public humiliation, threats of job loss, name calling, excessive or unfounded criticism of work abilities or personal life, unreasonable job demands, blaming, exclusion or isolation, initiating malicious rumors and gossip, withholding resources or obstructing opportunities, favoritism, dismissing an individuals feelings or thoughts, not returning phone calls, and behavior that implies a master-servant relationship (p.124-125). Whether the bully is in the schoolyard, at home or on the job, he or she will use tactics of intimidation, harassment, isolation and shaming. These are classic signs. Even if the bully is not using these tactics on everyone around, as long there’s at least one target, then it’s bullying. (Next Blog – Bully Fix: Step#2)