Pretending It’s Ok- when it really isn’t

People who are being bullied – will often pretend that it’s not bothering them. That – they are ok, when they really aren’t.

It’s not a bad strategy. If you don’t reward the bully, they will leave you alone. Right?  Well – maybe.  It depends.  Often – the answer is not.

Often what happens is that we allow the bully to get away with it and the bully is being rewarded by other people – who think his abuse is funny. The victim – by “playing along” is making that seem socially ok. After all – if the victim isn’t really being hurt – what is the harm.

Not rewarding the bullying isn’t about allowing it to happen and not doing anything.

It’s about taking away the reward – which may not be coming from the victim. We do this – by telling them that what they did wasn’t ok and to stop. This isn’t a request. It’s a statement. And if they don’t stop – report them.

I realize – the idea of doing this is terrifying. But it really does work.  The problem is – it doesn’t work right away. If you do this to a bully – they will rationalize and joke about it and try to get you to continue accepting the abuse.

The response to their attempts – must be – no. No more. It’s not ok. Stop. Eye contact, calm, firm statement of fact. And if they don’t – report them.

Doing this makes it clear to the bystanders – that you aren’t ok with what is happening.  Bystanders need to know this. They aren’t psychic. They won’t know unless you make it clear. Teachers won’t know – unless you tell them it’s happening and report it.

Doing this – will make a bully escalate. They want you to go back to being compliant.  Don’t. Don’t pretend it’s ok when it isn’t.

You can pretend you aren’t afraid of them when you stand up to them, but never pretend it’s ok if it isn’t. People can’t help you if they don’t know you need help. Yes – it’s terrifying to admit – things aren’t ok and you need help. But .. if you are being bullied – you need help – so ask for it.


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