I was bullied as a kid and when I say bullied, I do not mean that one girl said some bad stuff to me. Bullying lasted for more than 10 years and started as early as at the age of four. My first experience with bullying was when I moved to my grandparents and had to change kindergarten. There I was, abandoned by my mother, who had gone to foreign country, in a different town, with physically abusive grandmother. Naturally as a newcomer and potentially also emotionally very needy, I was an easy target. From there on it became a rule, every new place I went and there were plenty, I could expect being casted out of community. Even though having mean kids pick on me and laugh over me at the street was hurtful, perhaps even more hurtful was the betrayal I received from my friends. Namely, whenever there was someone else being mean to me, several of my friends would team up with them, instead of supporting me. On several occasions things got physical and happened when I visited friends’ birthdays.
Why would I call such people my friends? The truth is, your home environment teaches you how people should treat you. In my case, physical punishment was normal, my mother abandoning me was normal, her shaming me and criticizing me was relatively common and finally her making fun of me in front of other people was also nothing rare. I dare to suggest that most victims of bullying have received some very harmful messages from home. Naturally, there are also kids who for instance are overweight and have nothing wrong with their home environment, but usually the low self-esteem of these kids was present way before bullying.
It has taken me ages to become convenient with making contact with strangers and even making eye contact with attractive guys. I used to imagine that they would just start laughing or move away. Bullying has definitely left a mark in the way I am currently. Many victims of bullying try to consolidate themselves with the idea that those who bully have also serious self-esteem problems. Actually, according to research there are two different kinds of bullies. The first group consists of people with a healthy self-esteem, who have found that choosing some outcast and grouping up against him is an excellent way to make friends and create common belonging. You know, nothing joins people together better than having a common enemy. The other group indeed consists of people that have self-esteem issues themselves, which they try to suppress by finding some other victim. Having been a victim of bullying, it might be difficult to take that several bullies are most likely doing way better in life than you.
Other research suggests that those that are bullied, could be grouped into two. First, the kids that are rejected- those are the kids that receive active insults. The other group is however more invisible- those that are neglected- nobody even notices their presence. I cannot actually determine which is worse. It is like choosing between emotionally neglectful mother and emotionally violent mother. I have experienced both, and I must say that to a degree I even think that being rejected might be easier.
For a long time I was being quite defensive with other people, anticipating some kind of abuse. I was secretly imagining in my head what I would say to my bullies, how I would prove my self-worth. The fact that I felt like I had to justify myself and my self-worth demonstrated that I had not really gotten over of my bullying experience. Now after some years in therapy, I know that the opinion of the bullies would not hurt me anymore. Having been the bullied and now having a healthier self-esteem, I can see, how bullies choose their victims. Nobody in their right mind would currently choose me as their victim because I would just not react in any way to their insults or I would tell them to back off. People who however start justifying themselves, react emotionally etc, are an easy prey. What bullies expect is some kind of emotional reaction, something that would allow them to feel powerful and in control. Once they do not get it, you are out of their radar.