This week our Claire talks about bullying…
When I saw that it’s Anti-Bullying Week, it brought back memories of when I was at secondary school. For whatever reason, a bunch of girls I didn’t know took against me. I didn’t understand why or what to do about it and, when I told my parents, their advice was to stand up to them. As I’m not at all physical, this was doomed to failure. The result was that I lost my confidence and the bullying continued until I left school. When I look back now, I can see that this loss of confidence lasted for decades. It wasn’t really until I met my husband when I was 28 that I truly began to rebuild myself.
However, bullying doesn’t happen just to children. Adults can also be bullied – as I found out after the death of my husband. This bullying was not physical but psychological. Someone I had considered a friend took advantage of my grief and my poor relationship with my family to gaslight me. If you’re not familiar with the term “gaslighting”, Relate describe it simply as “trying to convince someone they’re wrong about something even when they aren’t” and that “When it’s done repeatedly, over a long period of time, it can have the effect of making someone doubt their own ideas about things – or even question their sanity. It can have a highly negative effect on a person’s self-esteem and confidence” which is what happened to me.
I’m not sure that they did this deliberately but, even if they didn’t, the result was the same. Even when I found the courage to end the friendship, the effects were torturous. Sometimes I still find myself second-guessing myself because of the doubts they implanted in my brain. There are also the psychological effects of having my trust abused. Maybe it’s no coincidence that I’ve not made a new friend since?
What helps enormously though is talking about it. For a start, in both instances, talking about what was happening helped me become certain that the problem was with the bully and not me. Also in both cases, the recovery also started with talking about the bullying. It is like the old adage says, “A problem shared is a problem halved.”
So if you suspect you or someone you know is being bullied, please talk about it with someone. That need not be the police or anyone in authority. It might be WHISC for instance. Give them a call on 07708 381568 or, alternatively, leave a message on their Facebook page with your phone number and they will ring you back. Additionally, WHISC is a Hate Crime Reporting Centre. So if you or someone you know is a victim of a Hate Crime, you can report it to them. Together we will get through this.