There is no question that bullying is emotionally and mentally traumatizing. But does that trauma equate to that caused by rape?
The problem is verbal bullying can mean so many things, from minor to major. It is totally possible for verbal abuse to be incredibly traumatic and forceful and violent, but it could also be something like – hey – poopyhead! The later not being equivalent to psychological rape.
I think for it to even come close – it would have to be truly intentional unavoidable psychological abuse. So that the victim is a captive audience and the abuse isn’t just verbal – it’s twists and perverts and subverts the mind of the victim. In other words, the verbal abuse has to steal the agency away from the victim entirely for it to come close to qualifying.
Rape is not just the imposition of sexual power over another. It’s robs the victim of agency – of choice. That’s why it’s worse than just being punched. They are both battery, but punching someone didn’t force them to have their bodies used as a weapon against them in the way that rape does. A rape victim can’t not experience what they are experiencing. Their body is being forced to do something they don’t want to do.
While it is possible for someone to gain that level of psychological control over a victim through verbal or psychological means, it’s not necessarily a common result of verbal bullying. And to imply that it is is to diminish the experience of rape victims.
It does happen, though. Mostly it occurs in abusive relationships because it requires a campaign over time to destroy a person’s sense of autonomy and replace it with the authoritarian control of their abuser. To quote a Cosmopolitan article – “emotional rape is, quite simply, a systematic destruction of someone’s personality.” (see: Emotional Rape: What Is It? – http://zeidspex.blogspot.com/2007/02/emotional-rape-what-is-it.html)
Basically – if it is psychological or emotional rape – it’s no longer considered bullying – it’s abuse. And yes, bullying is abusive too and people in abusive relationships bully their victims. But verbal bullying doesn’t necessarily lead to the total loss of autonomy of the victim in the way that emotional or physical rape does.
This doesn’t mean that verbal bullying isn’t traumatic. It is. It can cause PTSD. It’s just a different sort of trauma than rape is.