Written by: Anne Marie Forgarty, RGN
Bullying is an ongoing and deliberate misuse of power between people or groups of people. Repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour causing physical, social and/or psychological harm constitutes bullying. It can be in person or online and can be overt (obvious) or covert (hidden).
Why does bullying happen?
People bully when they have low self-esteem and use bullying as a way to exert power to make them feel better about their own life.
If you feel that you are being bullied, it’s good to tell someone. Talk to someone you trust. If it’s in school – tell a friend and/or teacher. If it’s in the workplace, tell a manager.
If you suspect someone else is being bullied (adult or a child), watch out for the signs:
• Changes in eating and sleeping
• If the bullying is physical – there may be bruises or scratches
• Anger or mood swings
• If it is a child, often grades start to go down, interest fades.
• If an adult -work productivity drops
• Low mood and depression and anxiety
• Refusal to attend school and/or work
Things you can do to help yourself or someone who is being bullied
Communication – keep talking and listening to them. Allow them time to tell you how they feel. Encourage them to seek help- to ignore the bully, but report/tell if it continues.
Support them – Maybe they can try ignoring the bully.
Be positive about themselves – people who bully have issues with their own confidence; even though they seem in love with themselves, they are reflecting their own inadequacies onto you.
If in the workplace, follow the anti-bullying policy and remain calm.
If bullying is online – don’t engage, block them and leave the chat.
Mind your mental health – try to remember it’s not you, it’s them. Get regular exercise, eat well, sleep 8 hours a night and maintain mindfulness or another relaxing practice. This is essential to ensure you keep yourself safe and well. Your wellbeing can be deeply affected by both short and long-term effects like stress or anxiety, so it’s important to mind yourself while the bullying is sorted.
Whether you’re an adult or a child, there are several support systems out there to help. Don’t suffer in silence and don’t feel you can’t tell – the bully’s power is cemented in your silence – break that silence and you’ll break that power.