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The long term effects of bullying

Mar 26, 2024

Amanda grew up as a confidently quiet kid; a great observer and very empathic towards others' feelings and experiences.  She had a few close friends she spent time with both in and out of school. In many ways she felt anoymous and invisible to others, just as she liked it,  and was very independent rather than a follower of other kids. She always thought of herself as a peacemaker and friendly person who did no harm to others and got along with everyone.

Whilst bullying was something Amanda was used to seeing at her school, she was never involved in being a victim of bulling or hung around or sided with bullies.  One day however, she recalls how she was about 10 or 11 years old and was walking home from school alone like she had done many times before. She saw another girl ahead of her on the field. This girl lived just a street away from her, but Amanda never really associated with her as she was generally very loud and always seemed to need to be the centre of attention. 

Amanda kept on walking past her but without notice she felt herself being dragged to the floor from behind and was being punched in the face. Amanda was stunned at first but then started to hit back as a crowd of kids had formed around them shouting and encouraging on the violence.  The fight was split up by a parent passing on her way to collect her child from school. She recalls how everyone separated and more bizarely how the incident was never discussed ever again. 

Because there seemed to be no reason for this violence which came completely out of the blue for Amanda, she believed it must have been something she'd said or done to trigger it. For weeks and months afterwards she would anxiously be looking around and taking different routes home or ensuring she walked with a friend, always expecting and anticipating more trouble.

She would pass this girl at school but nothing was ever said. Amanda also never talked about it with anyone. She felt ashamed at being a victim of bullying and frightened that it could happen again. 

Amanda never seemed to get resolve from this early experience and even now as an adult, having encountered several more bullying experiences, and avoided plenty more, this event would spontaneously play in her mind leaving her with lasting mental and emotional scars.

Replaying that incident would bring back feelings of anxiety and fear and affect her future experiences where she may be about to encounter a situation she would perceive could end in conflict. Instead, so as to not upset anyone she would avoid and shy away from conflict even if it meant not getting her needs met, for example in her relationships, and work situations.

Beyond the immediate trauma of experiencing bullying at school, victims like Amanda are at high risk of developing physical and emotional conditions well into their adult years. This is especially so for those who carry the burden of responsibility of seemingly having done something to attract violence towards themselves despite the violence at some level knowingly being irrational, unwarranted, & frivolous.

 

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