At the End of the Tunnell

What is a bully? Well, when I checked my dictionary one of the definitions was ‘A blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people’. Now, far be it for me to disagree with or contradict a dictionary, but on this occasion I make no excuse for so doing. I would suggest that the bully is the smaller and weaker character. Being bullied is a very serious thing, whether it is psychological, physical or both. When one is a child it’s often difficult to recognise it for what it is as it simply becomes a way of life for a given period of time, yet it’s effects can last a lifetime. When I was at school there were three bullies that, even to this day, I remember quite distinctly. I remember more about them than some of the kinder people in my life at that time. I recall their faces, voices and even, sad to say, one of their birthdays. I remember all of these things because I needed as much information about them as possible for my own survival. I was fortunate in that I could pull faces or mimic voices, which I used to great comic effect in making the bullies laugh. They’d move from me and onto some other poor soul who would be terrorised and tormented for the rest of that day. Being the victim of bullying is not something that one generally shares with others purely because of the shame associated with it. I’m almost convinced that bullying is a character changing phenomena and can lead to paranoia and insecurity. I have seen its effects on both others and myself at a time when things like Childline or counselling for children simply didn’t exist. In truth bullied children often suffer in silence, keeping their secret closely guarded and hidden. We often hear of children today being bullied via text messaging which is a hideous form of remote psychological torture, which can cause untold damage. Yet there are bullies and victims of every age and in every generation and, for whatever reason, the attitudes towards them remain remarkably similar to those of a child. Adults who are bullied, perhaps in the workplace, may live in fear of losing their income or, as in the case with children, regard their victimisation as a ‘shameful’ thing: a thing to be hidden and suffered in silence. It’s not always easy to prove that one is being bullied and some bullies are not even aware that their actions could even be construed as bullying. It can be disguised as admired business qualities: words on Curriculum Vitae that may even attract managerial admiration. Assertive, confident or forceful when, in truth, they may have a primitive need to dominate others. This may be a reflection of his or her own insecurity: even jealousy or envy. Today there are many avenues of help available for people of all ages, but the important thing about bullying, probably more than anything else, is to share the information with a trusted source as soon as possible. This one action may free you from years of consequential suffering.

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