Overcoming bullying

Leaving the scars behind

Overcoming bullying can be one of the hardest things to do. We often speak to adults who bear the scars of bullying and it has affected their adulthood in one way or another. They may have trust issues, low self-esteem and self-worth. We have seen how the effects of bullying can determine someone’s behaviour and actions. For those who have experienced bullying, it may be difficult to do the everyday things we take for granted, such as meeting new people, trying out new challenges and more.

Girl looking sad

Finding the strength

If you are dealing with the aftermath of bullying, you could be feeling drained and low on batteries. Trying to find the strength to understand, process and overcome what you have experienced might feel like the hardest thing to do. Often, finding that strength can be through the support of your family and friends and this can give you the helping hand you need to understand what you have endured. It is important to give yourself as much times as you need, don’t set yourself unrealistic limits as you need to go through this process in a manageable way.

“I was bullied at school and have never fully got over it (I'm 43 now). I'm so petrified that my kids will go through it too - my 9 year old came home last week and told me that some boys had been really nasty to him and those feelings just came flooding back. I can't bear the thought of him going through it too.”

It’s not me it’s you

The first step of overcoming bullying is understanding the roles of the people involved in the bullying. If you can try to visualise the experience but look at the situation from an outsider’s perspective, this can help you see how the person who was bullying you was perhaps motivated by their own reasons and actually you never were to blame or responsible for what you had to go through. Bullies often have very low self-esteem and low self-worth and will bully others to try and compensate for their own negative emotions. This does not excuse their behaviour but goes a long way to explain why they act in this way. What happened to you, was the consequence of the action and choice of the bully and it certainly was them and not you.

Accepting your emotions

It is natural under the circumstances to feel a mixture of emotions. You may be feeling sad, anxious and very low or possibly you may be feeling angry and violated. As a result of the bullying, you could be feeling depressed and want to withdraw from the world. These feelings are what many others feel when they have been bullied and accepting and understanding why you feel the way you do, is a part of the process of understanding what you when through and leaving those emotions behind. It is important not to make any negative choices or decisions when feeling this way as they may not be choices you would ordinarily make. Take your time, speak to the people you love and trust so they can help you move forwards. You may want to find out if you are able to get counselling or support as this is a positive step in helping you overcome bullying. You may be able to access counselling through your employers. If you are at school or college, speak to your student support or pastoral team. Your GP can give you support and may be able to refer you for NHS Talking Therapy. The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy have a list of therapists that are registered with them if you are looking privately.

Managing the stress

We understand how bullying has a knock on effect on mental health. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. When your body is hurting, you go to the doctor so shouldn’t it be the same with your mental health? There are many stress-busting things you can do to help yourself, such as not isolating yourself, even though you may want to. Try to lean on your friends and family and do the things you normally would with them. Take up something different that is good for you inside and out, often yoga or meditation is great for all ages and can really help you heal traumatic events. It is essential to do the things that you love to do and enjoy as this can help you get back on track.

Helping others

When you have experienced such trauma as bullying, you may feel a need to use the knowledge and understanding you have gained to help others who are being bullied. There are many ways you can do this whether it is volunteering, setting up a peer support group at school or raising awareness about the issues of bullying. If this is something you have considered, it is worth checking online to see what support is available and what contribution you can make. This is another way of leaving the scars of bullying behind.

“The bullying started in grade 1. They were times when there was a real and significant chance to be cornered by upwards of half a dozen kids, ridiculed, and usually beaten up. The administration were informed and did nothing to stop it. I was extremely lucky to have awesome parents who went above and beyond to be there for me, including things like volunteering in the school to be within earshot to ensure said teacher could not continue her pattern of concerted verbal abuse. If it were not for their support, I'm not even certain I would be here today. The damage done by the experience did not "toughen me up for my own good". It damaged me in deep and profound ways that decades later still haunt me. The only good that came of it was a deep appreciation for my parents who had my back to the absolute best of their ability throughout the whole thing, and my activism. The instinct for the strong to prey on the weak is pure is wrong. I have also learned that the very last and best inch of us cannot be taken, only surrendered, and while there is still hope, while there is someone to remind you that even if every other voice around you says you are worthless, they are WRONG, and they cannot take that last, best inch of who you are.”

Leaving the scars behind

Anyone who has been bullied will find their own way of healing and leaving those scars behind. Unfortunately, there are many people whose adult life is still affected by the bullying they experienced earlier on in life. If you seek the support and go through that process, hopefully there are ways of healing and moving forward. You could write about what you went through, as writing down what you have gone through and seeing how far you have come can give you such strength. Another idea is to make a loose plan in your life and steps for overcoming bullying and every time you have achieved a goal, you tick it off and know that you are one step closer to leaving the scars behind. It is important to do what feels right for you as you know yourself better than anyone else. Empower yourself and regain control as this is your life, your future and your choices. This may take time but believing in yourself will help you reach your goals.

If you need support or advice about any issues around bullying, please do call us on our helpline on 0808 800 2222. 

 

This article was developed in partnership with the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation


 

 

 

 

How we can help you

If you would like support and advice, you can talk to one of our Family Support Workers by calling our confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222. You can also share experiences and advice with other parents on our Forums. Family Lives is here for you and you can contact us about any family issue, big or small.

Did you find our advice helpful? Help us help more people by filling in our survey