Tel +27 (021) 880 1444 | Fax +27 (021) 880 0291 | P.O. Box 12602, Die Boord, Stellenbosch, 7613
‘At the heart of every relentless (and remorseless) bully is the certain (subconscious) knowledge that if they do it enough and for long enough they can actually kill their target. Just because someone isn’t using a fist, a gun or a knife doesn’t make it any less an act of violence. We need to educate society to understand this. Bullies are killers – they’re just doing it a little slower than we currently recognise’ ~ Anonymous
One of the most unconsciously accepted predators throughout history are commonly known as ‘bullies’. There are many versions of this kind of injustice; however I’d like to draw your attention towards psychic and emotional bullying.
WORDS HURTWhether you beat someone physically or badger them emotionally, the end result is still the same. Metaphorically, the bully aims to kill their target. For the bully, control is their primary weapon; they use it to gain power and momentum. When a person is being controlled they lose their ability to think for themself. They lose initiative and the capacity to rationalise effectively. The more control that is applied, the perpetrator has incremental access to taunt and manipulate the psyche of their victim. There are a number of strategies that are leveraged by the bully; as they continuously change their mind they thrive on making you feel as though you are going mentally crazy and then put you down for not keeping up with them. They also negate their words and expect you to read their minds for the sake of more blame and shame. The process is subtle, cunning and baffling – you are unaware of the monster’s work in progress. For the victim, evidence of this kind of humiliation is in their diminishing confidence; you feel low in self-worth and sad most of the time, and the perpetrator’s abuse that was originally covert becomes more and more overt.
It starts with a surreptitious comment that catches you by surprise. You question yourself (if you interpreted what was said correctly) and then sublimate the remark belittlingly because it was too random to measure. Naturally this happens again due to your initial response of not standing up for yourself, dampening your spirit and there is a downward spiral from then onwards.
THE VULNERABLE VICTIMSBullies choose their victims wisely since they cannot perform the role that they play efficaciously without a person who is vulnerable for attack. Basically, victims already have emotionally charged buttons that can be pressed from their own lack of self-belief, so the two become a match. This predisposition encourages the victim to easily believe the perpetrator’s scorn and sarcasm. Their self-esteem falls until they cannot cope with simple life challenges that occur on a daily basis. The perpetrator uses this as more ammunition to degrade and humiliate the victim by blaming them for their incompetence. The bully does not take any responsibility for their abusive words and actions.
The victim allows the cycle to perpetuate to the point of an explosion where belligerent behaviour is forced to come to a halt. Regardless, the victim’s spirit is shattered whether the relationship ends or continues; and due to their vulnerability, they are more susceptible to attract other bullies into their life.
THE CONSEQUENCESThe consequences of being emotionally traumatised causes sufferers to become oversensitive and suspicious towards other people; and to undermine their ability to perform optimally. Broken bones can be repaired but it is difficult to heal a broken mind.
Another symptom of being bullied is trying to be the person that the perpetrator implies you should be, that is, to be more like them or other people. So you try and change to be anything but yourself, and do this not only because they suggest it; but also to gain their approval. It is funny how this works: As they bring you down you wait in hope that they will miraculously pull you back up again! You rely on their approval as your only source of esteem even after the way they have disparaged and treated you. It’s strange how the ‘visceral response system’ often causes people to react to their emotions rather than pause, and allow for mindful action. This is why emotionally-charged individuals can sometimes appear to be mentally challenged or lacking in intelligence. Indicatively the assumption is often unstudied and therefore invalid. The loss of selfIt is a repetitious dance that you do, yet the audience never seems to clap and you eventually become exhausted. The intention of the bully is not to change you but rather drain you until there is nothing left – you become mentally and emotionally deadened and denied of the unique expressions and passions that make you you; you are no longer your authentic self. At this stage the perpetrator becomes more and more frustrated at how useless you become and then blames you for it! In some instances s/he leaves the relationship in search of their next victim, since you have nothing left to offer apart from having become a walking corpse. It is a psychically dishonest game being played that is in need of conscious interruption.
In domestically violent situations, vulnerable partners tend to walk on egg shells so as not to disturb the peace. These people also alter or minimise aspects of themselves in order to depress their abusers. Yet, the start of psychic bullying came long before any violence had begun. The beatings are merely a promotion of the same kind of practice. A victim of physical abuse often infers that s/he is somehow ‘bad’ and deserves to get beaten; and then waits for the beating as a means of redemption.
The trickster that sometimes holds victims hostage to this kind of psychological warfare is they sometimes identify with their abuser as a way to self-defend. If the victim and abuser share the same values, the ego no longer feels threatened. This is why a battered wife often returns to her husband even after he has beaten her several times; and then defends him each time. Subsequently, latent abuse is also internalised as an act of kindness.
Creating an emotional tie with the perpetrator is not only insane, it is also an unconscious trap that reinforces itself after each cycle of punishment and reward impetus. Thus, when does the cycle reach its end? This kind of traumatic bonding is known as ‘Stockholm syndrome’. Statistically, approximately 8% of victims show blatant signs of Stockholm syndrome according to the FBI's hostage system.
RAISING AWARENESSI am writing this article to raise awareness on a subject that is destructively overlooked. Bullies are pervasive – they are our teachers, parents, siblings, age mates, colleagues, bosses, capitalists, politicians, economists, religious figures, and the works. You see this quandary in the animal kingdom known as ‘survival of the fittest’; children also display repertoires of this nature, and when a woman feels threatened by another woman, she bullies her by sizing her up and down in an effort to make her feel small. It’s animalistic! Narcissistic abuse is so concentrated that victims lose their complete will and enthusiasm for life. This power struggle is the driving force and sustaining ingredient for street gangs, hazing and ritual abuse. Considering the above mentioned, I am wondering whether we still need to entertain or accept this level of chosen ignorance, especially amidst our present information age? Imagine the impact it has on a fraternity. Perhaps it is time to look out for these telling signs at the genesis and bring them to light?
Bullies are cowardsThere is little challenge for a bully to meet with a victim. If the bully were man or woman enough to find a real match for their size, that is, a man or woman with abundant knowledge and self-belief, I’d be the first to appraise their nerve. But it’s always someone bigger picking on someone smaller, isn’t it? I’d like to assert that there is little bravery and determination in cowardice.
Taking responsibilityBullies and victims are both in need of psychological cleansing to avoid inducing such associations. Victims ought to take responsibility for their emotional states, as opposed to hiding behind their abusers for exemption from conquering their fears and confronting life, which in actual fact makes abusers their victims. For the pitiful reward of pleasing others in exchange for acceptance, most victims blame other people out of fear of being the bad guy or girl, which is complete spinelessness. If you weren’t so self-pitying, you wouldn’t have attracted the bully in the first place. Having said that, when the victim finds themself in a more assertive role, what usually happens is they themselves become the bully! Therefore it is imperative to heal within your own reality to avoid replicating these kinds of patterns where ‘hurt people hurt people’. Bullies are not to be feared: The victim lies within the bully and the bully in the victim. Bullies are insecure and emotionally not strong enough to allow matters to unfold naturally. But you need to stand up to them or they will also infect your truth.
The effects of long-term emotional bullying■ Stockholm syndrome and traumatic bonding■ Mental illness■ Anxiety disorder■ Vulnerability to the disease of addiction■ Vulnerability to the disease of eating disorders■ Obsessive and compulsive behaviour■ Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)■ Chronic depression and sadness■ Panic disorder■ Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)■ Bipolar disorder■ Schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorder ■ Threatened or attempted suicide■ Shame, guilt, embarrassment and fear■ Confusion■ Rigidity■ Robotic ■ Apologetic ■ Apathetic■ Shyness■ Isolation■ Feeling alone ■ Lack of assertiveness■ Aggression, anger and rage ■ Inability to think rationally■ Poor academic or job performance■ Lack of confidence to be independent and autonomous
CONCLUSIONA democratic revolution of consciousness awaits us. We ought to raise the standard of exchange to a higher vibration, letting go of fear that vindicates these patterns. The climax in our evolutionary process highlights the need for a way forward from psychic offences (whether subtle or severe), in need of our attention. Critical thinking purports the fierce nature of these crimes and that, as a species, we are too evolved to retain them. If you want change, be brave enough to face your inner demons, eviscerate the ego, and change yourself.
How maddening – another hole has appeared in your lawn and Fido is looking guilty . . .
Most dogs will want to dig at some stage – and this digging can become extremely prolific. This is a normal and natural behaviour but can become quite a problem.
Click here to browse or order previous issues