Comedians tell jokes about their life, and you laugh at these funny stories because they base their tales on an ugly truth. Many learn to smile through the pain they’ve experienced as a child. Many times, the pain comes from bullying.
Being harassed constantly by other students can be a downright ugly experience. Society has a warped sense of what it means to be bullied and where it happens. It doesn’t always happen around a lunch table.
Being taunted and harassed can occur on a school bus, a gym class, walking home after school, on the internet, during a date, or even at home. The experiences are often so traumatic that they don’t leave a person, even when they are much older. Instead, these encounters can either make or break you mentally.
What effect does the bully have long term on your psyche? Can it cause personality disorders and other serious mental health issues? Psychologists are finding out that the harm is causing more problems than anyone ever imagined possible.
Bullying is A Form of Abuse
Bullying is a selfish, abusive act. Perpetrators treat others as objects rather than humans. They carry out their plans for self-gratification. The golden rule is to treat others as you want to be treated, but children are born with a bit of a narcissistic nature anyway.
Young children haven’t matured enough to understand that each person is a distinct individual. Anything unique or odd about others stands out, and it becomes a reason to call attention to their differences. Some experts, like Dorothy Espelage from the American Psychological Association, believes that those who bully have narcissistic tendencies.
Part of the harassment and abusing other children is caused by immaturity. It would be hopeful that people would grow out of this type of behavior, but sadly, adults can be bullies too.
The Long-Term Impacts
You know that being bullied can cause damage that lasts a lifetime. Not only is this a popular theory, but a tremendous amount of research backs it. Remember the old saying, “sticks and stones can break your bones, but words will never hurt?”
Well, words are much more painful than being stuck with sticks and stones. You can quickly recover from a broken bone, but an internal strike may take a lifetime to get over. Here are some of the most commonly found long term impacts caused by being harassed.
Harassment is an effort to instill fear and self-loathing. When a person is the constant target of mistreatment, it hurts their capability to view themselves as an attractive, talented, and successful person.
Harassment makes people feel that they are not desirable, their safety net frays, and they cannot defend themselves against the evil in the world. Helpless and hopeless people become depressed. When the self-image is tainted, people begin to believe what their bully says. They feel they are a loser, weak, and pathetic.
No one has unshakable self-confidence, especially a child. When you’re bullied, you become an outcast and feel excluded from groups. It’s challenging not to take the bullies’ negative messages personally; only a confident person could fight these negative words.
Unfortunately, children cope with the issue the only way they know-how. They begin to fantasize about revenge, develop intense anger and rage, and they become depressed.
According to Rick Nauert, Ph.D. from Psych Central, self-harm is an act that stems from the desire to relieve tension. A recent study was done at the University of Warwick to evaluate those who had been bullied and self-harmed as a coping mechanism.
They found that of the 5000 students studied, 27 percent used self-harm with the intent to kill themselves. The other 73 percent didn’t have any intention of ending their life, but they needed to release pent-up anxiety.
The problem is that many kids suffer in silence and don’t get the appropriate help. Self-harming rituals are a way to cope without getting anyone else involved. Girls are twice as likely to engage in self-mutilating behaviors than boys, and they’re also more likely to become depressed by constant harassment.
Social anxiety is the fear of being in large crowds or public places. The apprehension stems from being afraid that someone will look foolish or not be able to escape the situation quickly. Social anxiety comes in all forms; one person may be fearful of the freeways, while another person avoids grocery stores.
There is no rhyme or reason for anxiety, but it’s always feeding irrational thoughts into the brain. When a child is bullied continuously, they may fear to be in a social situation where they could attract the attention of others. The psychological well-being is damaged in these events, and avoidance techniques are used to stay out of sight.
For instance, a girl that is overweight may be taunted and picked on at school because of her size. She will then avoid going into places where there are large amounts of people for fear of what they will think or say about her. She may become introverted and prevent any social settings because she doesn’t want to draw attention.
Some medications can help with social anxiety, but no pill can erase the damage done by the hurtful words of others. You must learn coping mechanisms to get through life regardless of what others think.
Would it shock you to find out that 14 percent of high-school-age kids have thought about killing themselves? More shocking is that seven percent have attempted to do so at least once. A study done by Yale University found that kids who were bullied were as much as nine times more likely to commit suicide than those who weren’t.
Parents need to know the signs of trouble. Children often become withdrawn and isolate. They may engage in self-harming behaviors, give away their possessions, and fall into a depression.
By identifying the signs, it becomes easier to get help sooner. Children who have an active parental support system can get the help they need to save their life.
Stomach Aches – Feeling Sick
Every day, across this country, more than 160,000 kids will call off school because of their bully. They would rather lay home in bed all day than to face the harassment waiting for them.
Did you know that stomach aches and general sickness can be coping mechanisms the body uses throughout life? It all stems from anxiety. Anxiety can cause them to feel physically sick, even though there isn’t anything wrong. It’s that intense fear of facing rejection that keeps them down.
A life of being constant tainted and picked-on can cause a person to develop a personality disorder. There are ten different types of these disorders, but bullying likely to cause an avoidant, anti-social, paranoid, or borderline personality disorder.
It’s very challenging to treat these disorders because they stem from genetic or experiences that have deeply embedded themselves into the brain. Most of these people live on Social Security because they are unable to hold a job and deal with the daily rat-race. However, some people learn that they do have self-worth and overcome.
Intense Rage and Violence
Some victims develop rage and anger because they felt helpless as a child. Rather than laughing off the abuse as a comedian does, they become enraged. One such person was Andy Williams of El Cajon, California.
Williams was tormented and made fun of almost his entire ten years at school. When he reached 15 years old, he snapped. He took a .22 caliber revolver to school and killed two students, leaving 11 injured.
Police asked the student why he committed such a heinous act, and he told officials that he was tired of being bullied every day. Sometimes all the hurtful words build up and have an impact on a person’s rationale. As with the case of Williams, he no longer could focus on anything but revenge.
H.H. Holmes was considered America’s First Serial Killer. He killed 27 people and attributed these acts to being bullied as a child. The intense rage inside caused him to do unthinkable acts.
The most common damages observed from bullying are problems with self-esteem and identification issues. However, it’s essential to take steps early on to undo the harm. The self-worth of a person is destroyed and needs to heal.
You’ve probably heard that even plants are impacted by harsh words too. Many studies have been done where they take plants and divide them into two groups. One group of plants is talked down also and perish, while the plants that are praised thrive. The same concept can be used for children.
Kids are growing and learning every day. When they are in an environment where they are praised and loved, then they will flourish. However, if they become a constant source of ridicule and harassment, then their psyche will become damaged.
When someone is the source of ridicule for months or years, it can cause an inability to control one’s moods or urges. Now, not everyone who has been a victim of bullying is going to turn into a serial killer, but that is just an example of how much damage can be caused by hurtful words. Something must be done!