The whole issue of bullying still resonates with me since the tragedies of a few weeks ago… and the posting I made around that same time.
Statements by someone I once loved still haunt me. After a verbal tirade, the person said
“A victim substantiates a bully. You know there wouldn’t be bullies in the world without willing victims.”
I was stunned to hear that an educated person would say this, and I wish I had asked him the rationale behind his statements. One of the Four Agreements (that I have previously referenced in various posts) is Agreement #3: Never Assume. This means that when someone says something we do not understand/accept/make sense of, we should ask for clarification before we assume we know what it means.
Today I better understand my role in that co-dependent relationship and realize that my inability to stand up to the other person was part of why the relationship soured. However, even now I wonder whether the statements were the words of an irrational person or whether society holds the same views.
Do you agree with the statement that a victim substantiates a bully?
Certainly, there would be less abuse in the world if those who are victimized could stand up for themselves strongly and steadfastly immediately. Do you think it would make a difference if the victims could distance themselves from the situation, and become empowered enough to report bullies or disable them through strong words and actions?
I remember being told “I wish you’d stand up for yourself instead of withdrawing from the disagreement”, and on the occasions when I did stand up for myself and yelled louder than him, I quickly learned that so doing encouraged escalation that didn’t stop until I relented. In such situations, I wondered why I’d even bothered because it was easier (and quicker) to ending things by not engaging in battle.
I wonder how many victims of verbal, emotional, or physical abuse have experienced a similar situation. In retrospect, I do not know if I was actually a “victim” (it does not matter because the relationship ended years ago) — but I do know that the experience of being dismissed summarily was intimidating to say the least.
I have empathy and respect for anyone who finds him/herself a victim of abuse, and frankly, it is NOT your fault. Victims happen – they are not born – and become so at the hands of people who for whatever reason feel justified to overpower another.
I found a great article online today called How NOT to Raise a Bully: The Early Roots of Empathy where the author states that early parental guidance to teach empathy to children can prevent bullying behavior in later life. I tend to agree. It is said that we live what we learn – or is it we learn what we live? Either way, if a child is brought up in a home devoid of respect for others, it is likely that they will continue to disrespect others. Parents who do not teach their children to be empathetic are (in my humble opinion) negligent parents. And those who are bullies themselves teach their children that such behavior is okay.
What do you think? Do you think that bullies would exist if there weren’t potential victims? What has been YOUR experience with this topic?
Have a happy, productive week!