This month it’s been anti-bullying month here at The Gay UK. Bullying takes many forms: Name-calling, making negative comments on your work, making someone feel worthless, physical abuse are just some examples.
So we’ve put some tips together to help anyone out there who might be being bullied. It doesn’t matter if you’re being bullied at school, college, university, work or home.
Remember if you are being bullied remember it’s not your fault.
Write Everything Down
Keep a log of every incident; write down the date, time, location, what happened, what they said and any witnesses that were around.
Tell someone in authority and ask them what they intend to do about it. Tell them any fears you have about reprisals from the bully.
Someone you trust, like a family member or friend can also be useful. It means that you’re not dealing with the problem on your own; a problem shared is a problem halved.
Don’t try to deal with it and your feelings about it all on your own. Get some support. Consider counselling for some additional support around your feelings.
Know Your Rights
All educational settings have anti-bullying policies. Some employers have these as well. Even if your employer doesn’t they will have Equality & Diversity Policies as well as other relevant policies. Read them.
There will also be procedures for investigating and dealing with bullying – so have a look at these as well.
Know your rights. Nobody has a right to bully another. Make authority figures aware that you know you’re rights.
Don’t Let It Get To You
Try to not let the things the bully says or does get to you. Bullies bully for a variety of reasons, but it’s always about their issues, not yours.
Try Not To Show A Reaction or Smile
Don’t let the bully see that they are getting to you. To do this, try to give them no reaction or smile. You know that phrase: Smile – it confuses people.
Walk With Confidence
Use your body language to make you look larger. Stand with your legs apart, your back straight and your chest pushed out slightly. Have your arms slightly away from your body and loose by your sides. Head up as you walk looking straight ahead. This does take a bit of practice, but try practicing in front of a full-length mirror. Believe it or not, this is how most bullies walk.
When we see someone walk like this, especially a bully, we do the opposite with our body language. We make ourselves as small as possible including hunching our back, pulling our arms in close and looking down at the ground. Try to remember to keep this confident body language, even when you see the bully.
The only time to avoid using body language to make you look larger is in the event of a physical assault. In that case, have your side to the perpetrator, as this will give them less of a target. In the event of a physical assault, get yourself out of the situation as soon as you can and to a place of safety.
Remember nobody has the right to be violent towards you; likewise you don’t have the right to be violent towards anyone else. All physical assaults should be reported to the Police.
If It’s CyberBullying
If the bully is sending you messages, texts, images and videos, keep them all. Don’t respond to any messages and make good use of privacy settings. Block/Ignore the bully and report them to the social media provider. If the messages get particularly abusive report them to the Police (this is why you need to keep all the messages as evidence).
Take Sensible Steps To Keep Yourself Safe
Keep yourself safe by carrying a mobile phone, personal attack alarm and being aware of your surroundings. Never walk home on your own and always try to stay with someone when travelling around the setting were you come into contact with the bully.
Involve The Police
Any violence or physical assault should be reported to the Police.
If the bullying is homophobic or racist in nature you can report it to the Police as a hate crime. Hate crime also covers bullying that is related to disability religion, ethnicity or transgender identify. Find out more about hate crimes on the True Vision website.
Come up with Good Coping Strategies
We all have different coping strategies. Some good ones are: taking up sports or martial arts (these are particularly empowering and you learn to defend yourself as well), talking to people, expressing how you feel creatively (e.g. writing, music, drawing, making movies, etc.). All of these activities also raise your confidence and self esteem – something that bullies try to damage or destroy.
Avoid Drugs & Alcohol as a Coping Strategy
There is research that links drugs and alcohol misuse to bullying as a coping strategy. Avoid using drugs or alcohol to cope with the bullying. It might make you forget or feel happier in the very short term (for the night), but the next day the bullying often seems much bigger problem.
Know that It Gets Better
Bullying is a massive issue. Many people get bullied. Remember that the situation you’re in now wont last forever. There will be a time that the bullying will stop.
Avoid Becoming The Bully
There’s some research that shows that some people who have been bullied, later become bullies. Don’t let it happen, you’re better than that! Remember how it felt to be bullied. If you’re in a position to safely stand up to a bully that’s bullying someone else – do.
If you’re affected by bullying please check out our resources page for further help and support.
Published by: The Gay UK on Saturday 30th November 2013.