Bully (Noun) — A person who hurts, persecutes or intimidates another person.
3 MILLION students are absent each month because they feel unsafe at school.
280,000 students are physically attacked in secondary school each month.
1 in 4 teachers see nothing wrong with bullying and will only intervene 4% of the time.
This year, over 13 million American kids will be bullied at school, online, on the bus, at home, through their cell phones and on the streets of their towns, making it the most common form of violence young people face in this country.
77% of students are bullied mentally, verbally or physically.
Every 7 minutes a child is bullied on the playground.
Nearly 42% of kids have been bullied online and almost 1 in 4 have had it happen more than once.
One would think that as people mature and progress through life, that they would stop behaviors of their youth. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sadly, adults can be bullies, just as children and teenagers can be bullies. While adults are more likely to use verbal bullying as opposed to physical bullying, the fact of the matter is that adult bullying exists. The goal of an adult bully is to gain power over another person, and make himself or herself the dominant adult. They try to humiliate victims, and “show them who is boss.”
There are several different types of adult bullies, and it helps to know how they operate:
Narcissistic Adult Bully: This type of adult bully is self-centered and does not share empathy with others. Additionally, there is little anxiety about consequences. He or she seems to feel good about him or herself, but in reality has a brittle narcissism that requires putting others down.
Impulsive Adult Bully: Adult bullies in this category are more spontaneous and plan their bullying out less. Even if consequences are likely, this adult bully has a hard time restraining his or her behavior. In some cases, this type of bullying may be unintentional, resulting in periods of stress, or when the bully is actually upset or concerned about something unconnected with the victim.
Physical Bully: While adult bullying rarely turns to physical confrontation, there are, nonetheless, bullies that use physicality. In some cases, the adult bully may not actually physically harm the victim, but may use the threat of harm, or physical domination through looming. Additionally, a physical bully may damage or steal a victim’s property, rather than physically confronting the victim.
Verbal Adult Bully: Words can be quite damaging. Adult bullies who use this type of tactic may start rumors about the victim, or use sarcastic or demeaning language to dominate or humiliate another person. This subtle type of bullying also has the advantage – to the bully – of being difficult to document. However, the emotional and psychological impacts of verbal bullying can be felt quite keenly and can result in reduced job performance and even depression.
Secondary Adult Bully: This is someone who does not initiate the bullying, but joins in so that he or she does not actually become a victim down the road. Secondary bullies may feel bad about what they are doing, but are more concerned about protecting themselves.
I was a victim of bullying from the moment I walked into Kindergarten for my very first day of school all the way through my last day of High School and even somewhat into adulthood. In Elementary school, on a daily basis I was harassed and embarrassed for my choice in outfits I wore to school. The style that my hair was in (Which at the time was only one style: Curly hair). I was mocked for the color of my skin (They assumed that I was of mixed race) when in fact I am of Romanian and Native American Heritage. Girls ganged up on me spewing words such as “Gross” “Disgusting” “Pathetic” “Ugly” and boys laughed and snickered every chance they got. I only had one friend until about the 6th grade. My best friend for life Laura has always stuck by my side from the very first day of Kindergarten and we have been friends for over 20 years. However, bullies did not allow me more than my one very best friend up until about 6th grade. I sat alone, ate lunch alone, went to recess alone and even cried alone. I wanted to enjoy school so very much but was unable to fully embrace my education for fear of what sort of harassment or bullying I would face this day and that day.
Needless to say, my self esteem level was zero. Most people are unaware of this, and I am making this publicly known for the very first time but in reaching my teenage years, with the bullying unrelenting and no signs of ending, I contemplated suicide quite a few times. At one point even making an attempt to overdose. Upon doing so, I immediately regretted my decision and ran to my mother to tell her what I had done. I laid in bed praying to God for forgiveness but an end to the pain I felt as a result of the years of torment and bullying that I had endured and continued to endure. With my mother knelt beside me holding my hands crying & telling me how much she needed me in her life and how broken-hearted she would be if I no longer existed, I finally heard the voice of self worth. I indeed was wanted and needed in life. I prayed to live. I prayed for forgiveness. I prayed for healing. Thank God he pulled me away from the edge of suicide.
From that moment on, I became vigilant in not allowing bullies to bring me to that point ever again. I learned to ignore the mocking, the laughter, the ridicule. I learned to pity bullies for investing such time in hurting others. I learned that a bully is empowered by the reaction the victim gives to their strike. Bullies want you to be angry, cry, yell, feel worthless and perhaps even to commit suicide. Standing upon that ‘Edge’ so-to-speak helped me to realize how monstrous and cruel bullies are. I also realized that under no circumstance should suicide ever be an option and would never be an option of mine again. When I was growing up, there were no programs to fight back against bullying. No grown-ups to step in and intervene. No programs to educate the dangers of bullying. Nothing. I found the will to live and to fight back within myself and most importantly God and family.
When school finally came to an end, a heavy weight was lifted off of me. I would never have to go back to that place again. No more bullying. No more taunting. No more. I thought, once schooling was over, bullying was over. Gone for good. I had no idea that in fact, to my surprise, even adults can be bullies too. Life had moved on, and I was on my way to figuring out who I was apart from school and what I wanted to do with my life. I had gotten married in August of 2008 and life was smooth sailing. Until I became diagnosed with Epilepsy just 4 months later. It took me a long time to become comfortable disclosing my diagnosis with anyone for fear of isolation, ridicule, treated differently because of my condition and the lack of understanding of what all entailed with Epilepsy. But it wasn’t long before I found the confidence to be open about having Epilepsy thanks to God, friends and family! Even going as far as what I do today. Advocating for Epilepsy as the founder of The Epilepsy Network (TEN). I had become much stronger of a person than I ever knew I was capable of. The feeling was great. After a time period of healing and adjusting to Epilepsy medication, my confidence allowed me to disclose my diagnosis with my now former employers, a family owned grocery chain. However, my confidence didn’t stop certain employees from visibly gossiping and assuming certain things about my condition and my ability to work. I was as good a worker as any of the others. Yet, it began to pose a problem. I began noticing being treated differently by employees and Supervisors. Receiving less advantages and respect as the other employees. It definitely weighed heavily on my heart. When telling managers of my concerns and discomfort for how I was being treated, I was answered with… well, no answer. No resolve. Only empty promises that things would be handled. It had reached a point where I had no choice but to leave.
No matter, I was very happy to continue putting forth all of my time and efforts into my work with The Epilepsy Network (TEN)! Advocating and educating about Epilepsy with people all over the world. Empowering them to not let Epilepsy stop them from striving for their dreams, living life to the fullest and being open about their condition no matter what and learning the most that they can about this condition that we all share. It was and continues to be my most favorite thing in the world to do.
Working side by side with other advocates, families, people of all ages bringing Epilepsy Awareness where they are, it’s like one big happy PURPLE family. Making friends near and far, more friends than I ever had in my entire life. I had found the silver lining in my storm cloud of Epilepsy. Every person I encounter in person and through Social Media are some of the kindest, down-to-earth, angelic people. So as you could imagine, it stunned me to the core to eventually find myself encountering Cyber-Bullying by certain individuals within a community in which we all are focused on the same exact thing. Epilepsy Awareness, Education, Stigma Breaking, Community Uniting, Seeking A Cure and more. I won’t be mentioning any names of any sorts as to take the high road when discussing this. Simply, I just couldn’t imagine, being on the same journey, striving for the same thing, that there could be any sort of animosity, hatred, bitterness etc. However, unfortunately, this indeed is and can in fact be the case. Bullying exists even in the most unlikely of places. In this particular instance, I still continue to find myself at a complete and total loss for the reason why these certain bullies decide to want to make me their victim. More shockingly, they happen to be grown adults. Some with children even. What disappointing behavior of someone in a parental role. One painful comment was even made questioning the authenticity of my Epilepsy Diagnosis. What a shame. Of course it breaks my heart to be treated in the ways they’ve chosen. Never does it feel good to be mistreated. It also breaks my heart for the bullies too. That they feel as though they must invest their time and efforts in constructing ways to destruct the lives of others. The lives of good, hard-working, kind-hearted people. What an unfortunate way to wake up and live life. A friend of mine commented a very powerful and true statement about bullies the other day. She said “I actually pity the bullies, for they have such sad lives. They must tear others down to make themselves feel better, because they think so low of themselves. It must be hard when they try to sleep at night, when they are all alone. The thoughts that must run through their heads, the nightmares that must hauntthem.” Bullying no longer hurts the way it did when I was young. Sure, it causes me to reflect back upon the scarring instances of bullying from my youth. But I, in no way am as weak anymore the way that I was then. With all of the phenomenal programs that exist today to fight back against bullying and education about the dangers of bullying, I am filled with extreme confidence that I am not alone and something positive will be done about ending bullying. Of course, from time to time I do think on some of the hurtful things said and it has caused me to cry knowing how hard that I work each and every day on the thing I love most to do, while struggling through the days with Epilepsy but my will can not be broken.
I often reflect upon the Bible Verse, Psalm 118:6 “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”and I am strengthened once again. I pray that the bullies that I am referencing and all in the Epilepsy Community and throughout the world know, we must treat each other with love and respect. Love one another and reject hate. Respect one another and reject disrespect. In regards to the Epilepsy community, we are all on the same journey seeking the same goal: A Cure. Advocating is and never has been a competition and shouldn’t be treated as such. It should be treated as a family. A common bond. A unified friendship. Always.
I pray that the lines of Advocacy and Competition may never be blurred and only peace and love can be found.
I am a happily-ever-after wife, an Epilepsy Diagnosee, Advocate for Epilepsy Awareness (The Epilepsy Network), life lover & Christ inspired! Life is a journey and I'm loving every moment of it. Even the bumps in the road!