Violence and Abuse

All posts tagged Violence and Abuse

One Slice of My Life – Entries 1-5

Published March 8, 2014 by Vida Caramela

IMG_0227(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 :-)

  1. 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)
  2. 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)
  3. 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)
  4. 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)
  5. 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)
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From Victim to Advocate

Published August 14, 2013 by Vida Caramela
Advocate Against Discrimination

Advocate Against Discrimination (Photo credit: FreePride Foundation Project)

Jamie Isaacs, was a victim of intense bullying for many years. For her, the bullying began when she was in the second grade and continued until the end of the seventh grade, when she transferred to a different school. Jamie considers herself to be a survivor.  She, has not allowed tragic circumstances to spell her defeat. She has emerged from being a victim to being an activist, and has written her story in a book entitled, “In Jamie’s Words”. Jamie shares her experience with bullying every chance she gets. She speaks out, so that others who are suffering will know that they are not alone.

Jamie’s struggle started with one tormentor, her best friend, who turned against her. Other participants, were recruited until their numbers had reached a total of 22. The relentless persecution she endured was painful for her and her entire family. When she and her parents reached out to school leaders for help, they did not receive it. Eventually, she changed schools, but soon realized that the same bullies that tortured her, were targeting her younger brother. She then reached out to her County Legislator, Jon Cooper, who at the time was making efforts to stop cyberbullying, and she shared her struggle with him. He in turn asked her for her input in the drafting of new legislation on cyberbulling. Jamie felt a sense of empowerment and a strong desire to do more, so she founded the Jamie Isaacs Foundation For Anti-Bullying, a not-for-profit organization that helps young people know that they are not alone, and provides assistance to those being bullied. In February 2012, she was honored as a role model by Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), who introduced resolutions commending her for fighting against harassment and cyberbullying

By helping other victims of bullying, Jamie has found her strong inner voice. and is presently working with both local and state legislators to pass strong anti-bullying laws. The Jamie Isaacs Foundation has been named one of the TOP 10 Charities by Lifestyle + Charity Magazine!

On the Foundation Website, its mission is stated as follows: Our mission is simple… To save the lives of victims of bullying. We do this through intervention, and educational presentations, nationwide, to both students, and teachers and administrators. We present programs that help to raise awareness of situations where bullying is occurring.  After attending our presentations, students will have a special understanding of the effects of bullying. Teachers and administrators will have a better understanding  of the signs of bullying, and how it can be stopped. Our goal is to help children and their families overcome the devastating effects that bullying can have on kids, and their entire family. Some of these services can include representation by an advocate or even attorney where needed.  It may also include counseling and psychological services, all provided by a third party. We will assist in finding a therapist to fit each families financial needs. In addition, if the victims family is left with no other option but to formally withdraw their child from the school where the bullying is occurring, we will assist in negotiating a lower tuition, or tuition assistance to make it easier for the family to move their child to a safer place quickly.

As far as champions go, Jamie Isaacs is the real deal.

This is a war, y’all!

Published April 29, 2013 by Vida Caramela

I cannot overstate the importance of sticking together in the fight against bullying. When you can’t stop the bully. Empower the targets. Be supportive. My personal effort to “practice what I preach” in supporting my coworkers, has brought me a great deal of satisfaction. I received the following email message from my coworker this week:

Hey, this is my last letter to you tonight.  It feels great to have you in my corner because I feel all alone most of the time.  I wish to talk to no one about my tribulations.  It is great you are there for me.  Thank you again.

We’ve got to stick together. That’s the only way we can win this thing. United we stand, divided we fall.  Let’s not stand on the sidelines while the casualty count continues to grow. Every target we can keep from collapsing under the pressure, is another victory for the cause. Viva La Resistance!

It’s Not Your Fault.

Published April 13, 2013 by Vida Caramela
A little validation

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.

Validate

Published April 12, 2013 by Vida Caramela
Target validation

Drawing by VidaCaramela

The voices of those who are being bullied need to be heard and validated. While many targets feel powerless and alone, and while some suffer in silence, the bullying is left unchecked.  One way to counter this is to let these targets know that they are not alone, not to blame, and that they have done nothing to deserve the treatment they are receiving from the bully. There is NO justification for it.  Most targets report feelings of self doubt, and self deprecation. Remind them of their strengths, and assure them that they are not worthless, like their tormentors would have them believe. We cannot afford to turn our backs on the targets of bullying. We feel outraged when we hear the story of a mother who lets her children suffer at the hands of an abusive father and denies that it is happening, but we treat the targets of bullying in similar fashion. It seems like it’s human nature to choose the path of least resistance. The problem of bullying will never be resolved if it is rationalized or ignored.  Sometimes, it’s the fear of drawing attention to ourselves, that keeps us from advocating for the targets of bullying or from validating their concerns. After all, who wants to join in the suffering?  This attitude results in the isolation of the target.  This is one of the most destructive impacts of bullying.  It reminds me of the way predators often hunt for large prey. They maximize the efficiency of their attack by isolating the individual from the pack.  There is a way to fight this, and that is to operate under the principle that there is safety in numbers. Targets need support. If we begin to listen to, and bear up their complaints, instead of hiding our heads in the sand, or worse, asking the target to join us in doing so, then change will come.

Recognize

Published April 11, 2013 by Vida Caramela

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)

Hey, Stop that Bully!

Published April 8, 2013 by Vida Caramela
Physical bullying at school, as depicted in th...

Physical bullying at school, as depicted in the film Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. They rob the dignity of those they target. They murder self-esteem, and destroy lives.  Few people can stand by and watch a bully hurt someone and not be hurt by it themselves.  Lately, there’s been a lot of discussion on the topic, and people are fed up.  It’s time do something “Real”.

On February 8th, our school celebrated P.S. I Love You Day, by wearing the color purple. According to Brooke DiPalma, the founder of P.S. I Love You Day, “wearing purple will not only show that you’re standing up against bullying, but you will see everyone around you wearing purple, and know that you are never alone. P.S. I Love You.”

For the victims of bullying, standing up is not as simple as wearing purple for a day, it’s a daily weekly, monthly battle that can last for years, and campaigns like P.S. I love you  not only aim to raise awareness, but to actively fight against bullying, and to provide concrete assistance to its victims.

The targets of bullying need our help, not just our sympathy. If it was a simple matter of trying to get along, giving the bully what he or he or she wants, or just fighting back, we wouldn’t be faced with such a widespread epidemic. Before we can effectively take a stand, a few things need to be clear. (Next Blog – Bully Fix: Step#1)

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