Well for those of you who have yet to realise the difference,
there is none!
Bullying is Abuse!
Credit to Plastkcpiano - Use video control on left to mute music
Well if it makes you sit and think, and stops it happening to just one child in the future then it's worth it, hopefully it will save many children from going through years of painful physical and mental suffering and self-doubt.
Bullying has been around since year dot, no doubt it even happened in cave man days and its taken all these years for it to be really challenged and changes made.
The changes have not stopped it, although at least we are going in the right direction now !
We have grown and matured a little, the days of 'Fagging' at the colleges and universities are thankfully over, yet schools were still full of torturous abuse, and not only from the other children but from the teachers themselves.
Bullying was why I hated school, it started on the very first day I started, in fact within the first few hours. A girl in my class did not like being moved away from the sand-pit by the teacher to make room for me and to introduce me to the others, her retaliation was to pick up a large handful of sand and throw it into my eyes. I was blinded by the grit, even after having my eyeballs washed under the tap I couldn't see, each movement so painful as if my eyeballs were being polished with rough grade sandpaper. It was a few weeks before my eyesight returned to normal and I returned. Of course the girl was told off, something else she didn't like, so on return she did all she could to get back at me for missing her playtime or whatever the punishment was.
Young children bully without knowing why, maybe its a power thing, seemingly grown up when they can order around others. Most have been bullied or abused themselves and have not had the right direction shown to them so just copy what they are used to. To some it's just 'Fun', copying the many cartoons of childhood that showed one bullying another.
Parents and teachers had a strange take on bullying, they ignored it, some even promoted it, and I think why was because deep down they were afraid of it, afraid at not knowing what to do. They were frightened to face up to it and tackle it, and found any excuse not to do so.
Thank god we rarely still here the phrases 'Ignore it and it will go away!' or 'Its only natural', or even 'Get used to it its character building and will make a man of you!' or 'An eye for an eye!'
In my years at school reporting any form of abuse was as effective as a wet tissue, it never cleared it up just spread it further. Teachers ignored it as it meant more for them to do, and often took it out on the victim rather than the person causing it, you were creating disruption to the class by crying at the back or bleeding over the desk, and why should they believe you over the boys who were part of their school football team?. You were labelled as 'Trouble makers' or 'Tittle tattles' and told you were making up things, that you were weaklings, all pushing already damaged self-esteem even lower. Reporting abuse just generated more abuse, from the teaching staff!
My parents were great parents, they did their very best to provide for the family, even though money was extreemly tight. We had emigrated to Australia as 'Ten Pound Poms' in 1968 and because my Mum was homesick they returned to the UK, which cost them every penny they had. I understood why I couldn't have the latest gadgets and toys, the fancy clothing, the latest 'Chopper' bike, but unfortunately the others kids did not have the same understanding.
We are all used to the categories of abuse, Physical, Domestic, Sexual, Financial, Mental, Neglect, Omission, Modern Slavery, Discrimination, Sexual exploitation, self-neglect, but to me there should be one more added, the one of 'Unintentional'.
We can all do something that we think is good for others, when in reality it causes difficulty. We see the 'Gift', not what issues that gift can possibly cause.
My parents came from the poverty of the war years, when things were short and it was a case of make-do and mend. Added to that the lack of money mentioned above and every penny being fed back into paying for the house we lived in, there was none left over for niceties. Many of our clothes and toys were hand me downs, being the oldest male grandchild this was normally from my youngest uncle, so they were outdated, old-fashioned and over-sized. My school P.E. kit consisted of a handed down football shirt, below knee length shorts ('Stanley Mathew Shorts') that my Father wore in the Air Force, and a pair of rubber Galoshes (overshoes that were like a ankle version of a wellington boot but made of soft rubber) in place of football boots. Of course the teacher making fun of me in front of the others in the changing rooms only promoted the bullying out on the field, the kids loved the way my face screwed up when they stamped on my soft shoes with hard studded football boots, and it made all the teachers laugh!.
I was desperate for a new bike, the one I had still had solid rubber tyres and after it was taken and completely wrecked by other chikdren had to be thrown out. I waited patiently hoping each birthday or christmas I would get one, one that would save me the 5 mile walk to school each day. Dad did his very best I'm sure, and one night he came home from work with a 'surprise' in the van. Excitedly I opened the van to see the blow up tyres of a bike, but my heart dropped when as he lowered it to the ground I saw it fully, it was a girls bike and pink. To dad it was a bike, it did what it said on the tin, he could not see the abuse I was going to get from my peers. The pink was soon sorted, I mixed together all the little pots of Airfix enamel paints I had and painted it, even if it was a murky greenish blue, but even after removing the whicker basket and making myself a crossbar from a broomstick I knew they would notice. Within the first day I had been stoned, pushed off it, had it taken away and thrown over a garden wall, pushed around and called all sorts.
This shows you that simple and well meant actions by a parent can have a very strong influence on the well being of a child when faced with peers. A generous gift (in their eyes) of a bicycle, the provision of a 'Kit' for sports, or the purchase of a 'nice and warm' grey fur lined duffel coat for winter, that in the eyes of the kids made me look like a squirrel, and was not allowed to walk with them dressed in their newer style green 'Parka' coats. Unintentionally my parents were feeding the bullies, setting me up to receive endless pain and humiliation and be the target of every bully for miles. I think in reality if it wasnt a necessity for me to ride the miles to school, I would of been a lot better off without a bike and to not wear a coat at al through the winter monthsl.
EVERY DAY OF MY SCHOOL LIFE WAS LIKE AN EPISODE OF GLADIATORS
My brain knew the words "Are You Ready" long before the television series, every walk home from school I had to run the Gaunlett, the line up of boys in the foot tunnel under the railway all intent on 'putting the boot in!'.
Why didn't I tell someone I can hear you ask, Oh I did try, but then that made you a 'Squealer' then that made everybody get at you and to be on your back, even the ones who normally were quite good to you. The act of 'Telling' made things worse, it made you 'Fair game' as if you had signed a waiver and given them the right to attack and hurt you.
My Dad would tell me he had the same when he was a child, give me 'The bigger they are the harder they fall' talk, tell me to hit the biggest one and the others would soon run away... But that's impossible when ten kids are holding you down while another beats the crap out of you. Anyway I was not a fighter, never have been and I never will be. Violence is not the cure for Violence!
I spent my entire senior school years in constant fear, from the moment I left my house till the time I got back indoors, the stress levels were so intense, concentration on homework was near impossible, sleep was irregular and disturbed, it played on your mind all the time, wondering what they would do to you next and when. It is very isolating, and it stops you from going out, especially at the times or to places you knew these other kids would be, it stopped you from swimming, going to the park, enjoying sporting activities, the list is endless. Excercise for me was how fast I could run through the line up of kids, or the extra miles walking the long way around the outskirts of town to miss them. I used to cycle 5 miles to another swimming pool rather than the one near.
Innocence was also fuel for the Bully's fire, my parents were 'Old School', no birds and bees talk from father to son, and information about things sexual was not as readily available back then, no internet to search, no pamphlets; books or informative films at school to understand the workings of the human body and the procedures used to recreate life. Dissecting a frog, and watching Tadpoles or a Guppy in a tank gave away little on the meaning of sex or how it was done. What little knowledge there was had been gained from overhearing others kids conversations, which was highly incorrect and very highly exaggerated. What little was shown in highly regulated format on TV did nothing to inform me, at that time it was rare the camera did not pull away to crashing waves or blasting off Rockets before those on screen even kissed! Therefore I could be classed as a 'Late Starter', and peers very quickly pick up on these things, i became the target for a 1001 questions, mainly from the girls, designed to show up your misunderstandings or lack of knowledge and make you a laughing stock of the class.
YOU JUST COULDN'T WIN !
Teachers loved punishing kids and making them examples, I was never caned but underwent endless humiliation from our sports teachers, one in particular seemed to single me out but many were just at fault. We had sports 2 days in a row, I only had 1 PE kit, my mother did not have a washing machine and dryer so if my kit was muddy I just had to make do, sometimes it hadn't been washed and dried in time, so the teachers punished you for it being dirty or for not having it. One would twist your ears so much you had to flip yourself over to stop the pain, and if you forgot your kit would disappear to the girls changing rooms and come back with a skirt which he would then make you wear all day.
All these things mount up, evevry event nibbling away at your self-confidence, self-esteem, you end up believing you are not good enough, that you are weak and cowardly, and that stays with you all through life!
Its stayed with me all through life, it created a fear of confrontation and arguments, and of being able to stand up for yourself. Because of this it makes you a vulnerable target in the world of work to be used as a pawn, and put down so that others over-shadow you in hope of promotion.
You become a 'Follower' and not a 'Leader', accepting the terms and conditions of others even though it is not what you want, putting everyone else first and leaving nothing for yourself.
You allow the bullying and do not confront it, put up with it hoping it will make life quieter than if you argue against it. It happens at work and also in relationships. My first wife was abusive, it was her way or no way, and if it wasnt 100% to her liking she would let you know about it. She poured a whole pan of Stewing Apples over my head scalding my head and shoulders, she threw things (including Knives), withheld money so I couldnt get fuel to go to work, stopped me from seeing my parents, even tried once to smother me with a pillow while I slept. Became paranoid and constantly phoned my work to see where I was. Each time pushing boundaries further to the point I feared going home just like I once feared school.
SO WHY DID I STAY SO LONG ?
For the same reasons that anyone suffering abuse stays in a situation, the verbal onslaughts, the violence, it all knocks your confidence and takes away self worth, life ceases in the normal sense, you become robotic, trying not to think about it or re-live it, trying to comply and to save further aggression. Lack of self worth and the lack of confidence makes the thought of leaving and being alone a very fearful idea.
Also the fear of failure, of how others including friends and family will see you. Fear of blame, even if it really isn't your fault. Fear of being made to look the 'Bad Guy' in a continuing effort by the abuser to retain their control.
Lack of support to physically get out of a situation, abusers of whatever kind use their controlling nature to isolate you away from family and friends to keep you under their control, make it so nobody else can take you away from their grasp, they control your movements to a stage where you do not physically have the opportunity to ask anyone for help or seek assistance. It's same as a young child hiding their sweets so that they can not be taken by others, They think you belong to them, and them alone!
There has been more than I have put on here, much more, but I am sure I have revealed enough about my past for you to get the idea.
It taught me Empathy, and understanding of others in the same position, and the importance of realising that it is not your fault, that you are not to blame, and taught me the necessity of breaking the links that keep the abuse in motion.
It taught me the importance of showing people suffering abuse that there is help and support systems available, generating reassurance and showing them that there is life after.
The understanding that the end of the actual abuse is not the end of the process, that the past can still continue to damage the future unless the right support is given to take back the control that abuse takes away.
I also learnt how important it is to think carefully, to consider my own choices before pushing things on to my children, being aware of what I made them wear, the toys I bought them, remembering how these choices affected myself and trying to ensure I did not put my children in the same possibly abusive situations.
I also learnt that it was important to stand up to society on their behalf at the first signs of any abuse, to not be afraid to complain to or about teachers, to tackle any bullying by peers straight on and stop it from escalating.
And in personal relationships, that I do not have to put up with abuse or violence, that I don't have to retaliate but that that I can walk away, and that it is 'ok' to walk away, and that I am better off on my own than being in a situation that makes me feel useless and small, or in fear!.
If you are asking is it all over, has it all been banished to the past and stopped affecting me...
Then the answer is NO!
For the majority of the time it has a limited effect on me, I have managed to regain the control, created coping mechanisms to help me, mainly by carefully adapting and controlling my environment and actions, and not placing myself in situations where its effects will resurface.
But the majority does not mean 'ALL', and that means that on occasions I lose the ability to control my surroundings, mainly by the needs of others, others who can force you to attend places you would normally not attend, or do things that are far out of your comfort zone. When this happens the fears return, the sickness returns, the difficulty in breathing and profuse sweating returns, and the hairs on your neck rise up as if you are plugged in to the mains.
We all think we deal with stress, that we get over it and that it goes away... It Doesn't!
The stress is always there, dormant at times, just waiting to be triggered!.
Think of stress like a bowl in your kitchen sink, a sink that has had a dripping tap for many years. Now you get good days like a summer day, the water in the bowl evaporates a little and things look promising. But then you get bad days like winter days, the tap forms condensation that also drips into the bowl along with the leak, filling the bowl even quicker. Now it may take many years for the bowl to completely fill, but one day it reaches the top and overflows.
That's what happened to me. The initial constant stress caused by the bullying built and built, it was added to by the intensely stressful jobs I have done in the past, filling my theoretical bowl to the point that it overflowed. This resulted in my body and mind reacting in many unexpected ways, it resurrected my IBS (Irritated Bowel Syndrome) with it's associated sickness. It brought back migraines that I had not suffered with for over 20 years. I began to suffer with Agoraphobia, and also Claustrophobia , both at the same time!. I couldn't go out, yet staying in was also driving me insane.
But it didn't stop there, the stress and high anxiety levels triggered my Brain into having a stroke, several of them!
I bet those Bully's never considered how much effect their actions would have...
So don't take it lightly, don't ever cause it, don't ever suffer it. and make sure you don't put up with it happening to others!