Bullying is not contained to childhood, adults experience it too!

Posted: January 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

Elsie felt suicidal.  Her son was sitting his A-levels at the time it happened, so she tried to be strong and support him whilst attempting to make sense of the overwhelming feelings she was experiencing.  Every day at the hospital where she worked Elsie says she was being undermined: colleagues would shout at her and leave her out when they went off for a break, with some speaking unkind words about her to others behind her back. Although well qualified in her field, and with much experience, she was treated like an idiot by those in charge. This persistent dragging down knocked at her inside resulting in her reaching the point where she no longer wanted to live. It was only upon acknowledging that the behaviour she was on the receiving end of was bullying that she was able to seek some support and help.

Bullying is not confined to childhood when youngsters name call, hide pencil cases or push someone over, it is also a sad reality for many adults.

Types of bullying:

1. Cyber Bullying

Clare befriended a guy on the internet through a Christian page and began to get to know more about him, even sending him a present at Christmas time. However their blossoming relationship turned sour when he suddenly blocked her from communicating with him online, making accusations of her being a stalker and love cheat – all of which were done publicly. His behaviour, she believes, was that of a bully. Other Christians turned against her as they read his thoughts about their online liaison, resulting in her self-esteem being knocked. She was harassed by people sending messages saying unpleasant things about her so she contacted those in authority on the site to report their behaviour. She says she has forgiven him but that the experience was extremely hurtful.

In the 21st century chat rooms, social networking sites, blogs and websites have all been used to bring about good but they are also common tools for abuse. The rise of smart phones and 24hr internet access means that a victim of bullying can be targetted any time of the day or night.  It might be a case of publicising information about someone, hounding them, ridiculing them or highlighting them to others. However, with news stories emerging of prosecutions being brought about for bullying tweets made or unpleasant facebook pages being set up, some adults have been caught being nasty to one another online and had to pay the price.

2. Spiritual bullying

Bullying can be conducted in the most unlikely of environments, including in the home or even at Church. Spiritual bullying is when someone in a position of spiritual authority manipulates a situation or person, crediting God or scripture as being the reason for a particular decision or behaviour.  This can result in someone feeling guity if they don’t hand over a certain amount of money, attend certain meetings, or hold a particular view, leading them to feel that somehow they are letting their faith community, God and themself down.

3. Physical bullying –

This type of bullying in its most extreme form would likely be labelled as ‘physical abuse’. Milder forms might be when a person repeatedly and deliberately knocks or pushes you when they walk past.

4. Emotional bullying –

Just a few weeks ago in the South West of England a bullying boss reportedly came before a tribunal after one of his employees accused him of telling her to stay single and not have babies, inducing fear over whether she would keep her job if she failed to comply with the command.

If someone is an emotional bully they might repeatedly instil fear into you, try to control you, or speak negatively about you to your friends, family and colleagues.

When adults treat each other badly we often consider the word ‘bullying’ to be inappropriate.  Perhaps the reason for that is because we associate the word ‘bully’ with our schooldays.  Maybe that needs to change.

Resources:

1. National Bullying Helpline – 0845 22 55 787

2. ‘Insight into Child and Adult Bullying’, by Helena Wilkinson (Due out Jan 2013 – I have not seen a copy but it covers coping techniques and bully traits.)

© Maria Rodrigues-Toth

p.s. The words with the huge speech marks next to them are my own, I just used the speech marks to highlight the points.

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