In this article I want to take a moment and speak directly to the people who might be getting bullied. Having been through this myself, I want to offer some insight and hopefully this can be of some help to those in this situation.
Don’t assume you have no friends.
When I went through this, I really felt that I had no friends because not a soul stepped up and told people to stop. No one intervened. And for all outward appearances, no one cared. The day I finally fought back, at a time when people were not treated like criminals for defending themselves, people started to step up. And I started hitting everyone in sight, because I was at a point where I really believed that I had no friends.
Some of the people I knocked down that day were my friends and were trying to help me not get in trouble. A few of them never forgave me.
Even when it seems that you have no friends because they are not stopping the bully, some of them are just afraid. Interfering puts them at risk. Maybe you feel you would protect them, but you cannot know this to be a fact until and unless the situation arrises where you could prove it. Cut your friends some slack. If they are your friend even when there is someone bullying you, that may be as much of a risk as they can handle at that moment.
Don’t violate school rules or public laws.
When I speak to people about my response to being bullied, I have to be careful to remind them that I am a really bad example of how to properly handle such situations. Were I to take such action today, my parents would have been sued in civil court, and I would have a criminal record at worst, or been from school expelled at best.
You might not like the laws or the school rules, but they are what we have and you have to learn to act within that framework. Think of the rules as hints or guidelines. The stuff within these rules is okay, but anything outside of this will be punished as if you are the wrongdoer.
Maybe someday the rules and laws will be different. But for now, work within the lines of what keeps you out of trouble. Part of self-defense is staying out of jail.
Don’t bully those weaker than you.
Anger is real. It is very powerful. It can also cause us to make some really stupid choices.
Anger is a terrible guide for decision making.
If you find the urge to lash out from the bullying at those who are further down the food chain that you, rethink that plan. Do not become what you hate. You are dealing with enough without taking that path. And knowing first-hand what bullying feels like, why would you ever do that to someone else?
Be better than that.
Don’t allow the actions to bring you to isolation.
When I reached a point where I really thought I had no friends and no one to count on, it was possible the most dangerous time in my life. There were many very bad choices that I took time to consider in deep and serious thought.
Regardless of how things can seem, there are people who care about you. There is someone who will listen and someone who worries about you. You may not see it or believe it, but if you set your focus on finding out who that person is, you will find them.
Tell someone you trust.
No one will be able to help you if they do not know. Some bullying is no the public physical assault style, and there could well be those who are unaware. Especially teachers. You know, those people who have the authority to help. Yeah. Tell them. If they don’t do anything, Principals and School Counselors will be there. Keep telling until you find an ear that listens.
Avoid being separated from the herd.
There are several reasons to avoid letting the bully separate you from the group, but here I will mention the most important.
Being separated from the group allows the bully to not hold back. Fewer witnesses means less trouble down the road. He will have a measure of deniability. No one saw it, so it becomes his word against yours.
Find a group to belong to.
You have an interest in something. That interest is shared by others, I guarantee it. I teach a martial arts elective class. There are kids who love martial arts, and kids who don’t. There are kids with no interest in martial arts who stay in the class for years because they found a sense of belonging.
Find that belonging.
It does not have to be martial arts. It could be chess, video games, or basket weaving. Find it and you will find like-minded people. Then you will have your herd.
Find something to occupy your mind.
Do not spend time focusing on the actions of the bully. He is a jerk who is trying to tear people down, why waste a ghost of a thought on him?
Instead, focus on what matters to you. I am sure you have goals, dreams, hopes and plans. Focus on that.
Above all, remember this – bullying ends.
At some point the bully grows up. You will too. Who knows, there could come a point in your life where the person making you terribly miserable right now ends up being one of your most cherished friends. It happened to me, it could happen to you.