Although each situation is different, bullies exhibit common styles, techniques and patterns. These commonalities enable us see what responses are ineffective and also to develop responses that are effective to stop bullying. Whether in relationships, by our own children’s temper tantrums or nastiness, by false friends, at school or in the workplace, there is one rule of thumb that’s critical in order to stop bullies: Don’t suffer in silence.
For some relationship examples, see the comments to the articles:
- Get Away from a Controlling, Bullying, Abusive Husband
- Abusive, Manipulative Husbands Who Control Wives
- Top 12 Warning Signs of Controlling Husbands
Too many women see the early warning signs of bullying and abuse, but ignore them. They feel the jealousy, the control, the verbal and physical abuse, and the isolation. They’re criticized, chastised, belittled and demeaned endlessly. Their money is taken away. Their children are brutalized. Often, the sons imitate their father’s behavior. Often, the girls grow up to think that such harassment, bullying and abuse are normal, and they should be prepared to accept it when their turn comes. And yet, these women stay and suffer in silence. Often, they say they love the bully. They don’t make the critical step of saying, “That’s enough. I’m gone or you’re gone.”
Of course, women can inflict the same punishment and pain on their spouses.
At school, too many kids suffer in silence also. Often, kids are physically intimidated into silence. Often, kids are too ashamed to reveal their guilty secret or they don’t think their parents can or will help. Often, they accurately see that principals, teachers, counselors and psychologists won’t help them. Often, they think it’s their fault; they must be doing something wrong or they must be bad people in order to attract so much taunting, teasing, harassment and brutality. Often, other kids pile on physically, verbally and by cyberbullying.
Kids’ silence prevents effective action from the principals and teachers who would protect them.
As parents, we must learn to recognize the signs that our children might be subjected to bullying and abuse. Sometimes, we must pry the truth out of our reluctant kids. Sometimes, we must check their phones, computers and social websites. Sometimes, we must investigate with parents of their friends or with teachers. Sometimes, we must learn to force reluctant principals to act, even though that might violate our old beliefs or values.
Do-nothing principals promote, collude and enable bullies to flourish in the dark. Do-nothing principals and teachers are a major factor in student suicides
We already know that minimizing or ignoring relentless bullies doesn’t stop them. We know that trying to understand, forgive, appease, beg, bribe, be nice or reason with real-world bullies doesn’t stop them. The Golden rule doesn’t stop these ignorant, insensitive or narcissistic predators.
I’m not going into the many reasons that targets suffer in silence. We don’t need a scientific study to analyze all the reasons. If we and ten friends make a list, we’ll cover more than 90% of the reasons. So what?
What’s important is that whatever our reasons are, we already know we must overcome them. We must act despite our feelings of reluctance. Just like we wouldn’t be swayed by bullies’ excuses and justifications, we can’t give in to our self-bullying ones.
We must develop the will to stop bullying. I think of the will as the engine that gives us the power to go where we want to go. The engine is the will to do whatever it takes to stop bullies – determination, courage, mental and emotional strength, perseverance, resilience, endurance, being relentless. The old word, still perfectly good, was grit.
Of course, we need skills – learning how to steer. But without an engine, all our skills, all our ability to steer, won’t matter. Without an engine we won’t get anywhere.
Don’t suffer in silence. Don’t whine or complain; speak up. Give yourself a chance. Test the world: Who’ll help you and who won’t. That tells you about them and whether you want to vote them off your island.