Bullying can take many forms—physical, verbal, emotional/mental, or even virtual—but no matter what, it always hurts us on a personal level. Bullies can make us feel completely awful about ourselves and destroy our self-image. We may not be able to keep a bully from bullying, but we can control how we react when it happens and how to become less of a target for bullies.
Maybe a classmate at school makes fun of you in class on a regular basis and gets others to join in on teasing you, identifying you as an easy target to everyone else. Maybe someone
tries beating you up whenever you’re alone to where you’re in constant fear. It could be as far removed as a stranger over the Internet attacking you because they didn’t like something you posted. It could also hit as close to home as being physically abused by a family member. There are many different ways we can be bullied, and unfortunately many of us are bullied in several different ways throughout our childhood.
How Bullying Can Harm Us
Being bullied can do terrible things to our self-esteem, depending on what we are being picked on for. If someone bursts out laughing at you each time you wear a different outfit and proceeds to taunt you in front of people, you might start feeling self-conscious about the way you dress. If someone is constantly calling you annoying or a loser, you might start to believe that you’re an annoying loser. Believing these negative things about us can cause serious problems for our mental health. It can be especially detrimental if we are being bullied by someone we love and care about, such as a friend, family member, or significant other. They have the power to win you over in spite of putting you down. You might start to believe that you are undeserving of their love and attention, but grateful that they are a part of your life anyway, and this is how they manipulate you.
Especially if we have been publicly humiliated, being bullied can cause us to be afraid of others or social interaction because of how insecure, unimportant, or useless we believe we are. If you tease someone about being fat for long enough, even if they aren’t, they might start to believe that they are, which could lead to an eating disorder. In fact, harmful words from bullies can lead to a variety of mental problems including depression and anxiety. A large number of children commit suicide each year due to being victims of bullying.
How Bullying Affects Other Relationships
Most bullies do not take into consideration how much they are hurting their victims, let alone how other people in the victim’s lives are affected by it. When we are hurt, especially when we are unable to be consoled, our loved ones are affected. They might feel sad for us, or frustrated that they cannot help with our problem. Perhaps being bullied has made us angry with ourselves and we end up lashing out at the people we care about. We might even begin to bully other people as a means of letting out our own frustrations. Since everyone is affected by bullying differently, it is difficult to estimate how many people could be affected from just one case of bullying. Not everyone gets depressed from being bullied; some people choose to get even instead, which can affect even more people. We might feel that since we had to suffer so much emotional abuse for no particular reason, so should other people, even if they were not involved with our situation at all. For example, in more extreme cases, bullying has eventually led to the victims performing more serious, violent crimes such as shootings and
serial killing in retaliation or as a way to find an outlet for the suppressed emotions bully may cause.
How Therapy Can Help
Even if you have been bullied your whole life to the point where you barely feel like going on, there is always hope in therapy. We can be taught how to roll with the punches and not be as bothered by a bully’s harmful words anymore. This comes from the realization that a bully’s opinion of you should not be taken to heart. Therapy can teach us how to become more confident within ourselves as a means of overcoming what we are insecure about. We can let go of our negative beliefs and focus on what we are good at. We can move on with our lives and never have to deal with the burdens bullies try to place on us ever again.
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