What Are The Long Term Effects Of Bullying And How Do You Overcome Them?
Updated February 06, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Fawley
Bullying can happen in a variety of capacities and settings. Contrary to popular belief, bullying is not mutually exclusive to childhood; there are many adults who are regularly subjected to ongoing mistreatment from others. Bullies can exist in families, the workplace, relationships, or other social circles. The dynamics and situations at hand can impact the specifics of bullying, but this doesn't make the practice any less toxic or harmful. Bullying comes with a series of long term effects which can severely diminish someone's quality of life.
Reviewing The Long Term Effects Of Bullying
One of the most important things to understand about bullying is the fact that long term effects are very real. Thankfully, this is something which more and more people are beginning to acknowledge. For far too long, bullying was regarded as something which people should simply get over. However, it's been proven that bullying has very real emotional, psychological and even physical impacts on individuals who are targeted.
The erosion of self-esteem and self-worth can often follow when an individual is ongoingly exposed to bullying. Sometimes, people internalize the messages which are routinely conveyed by bullies. More often than not, this message asserts that the victim simply is worthless, unimportant, or not good enough. Despite how untrue this maybe when someone is constantly fed this misinformation, it still leaves an impact. The impact worsens if a victim of bullying lacks the proper support system or positive influences in their life.
Self-destruction can manifest in a variety of forms, but ultimately, it boils down to making poor life choices. Some common examples include the abuse of alcohol or drugs, engaging in criminal activities, getting involved in the wrong crowds, etc. In many cases, self-destructive individuals are not consciously aware that the bullying they experienced has contributed to their present propensity for bad decision-making.
Trouble With Healthy Interpersonal Relationships
Sometimes, when a person is subjected to bullying, they can begin to build up walls as a means of self-protection. Unfortunately, these walls can be so deeply rooted that they alienate good people who could actually make a positive difference. This effect of bullying truly speaks to the significant emotional wounds which are often inflicted as a result of this mistreatment. On a conscious level, someone may know that not every person is a bully; however, they may also fear that taking the risk of opening up to others simply isn't worth it. This is sad, but trust issues and challenges with maintaining healthy friendships and relationships are linked to bullying.
Many bullied individuals feel trapped and unable to escape the terror of their bullies. If there are power dynamics at play, then this feeling often worsens. Each situation is different and feeling trapped in a terrible situation with no apparent way out can truly send someone spiraling into depression. Depressed persons are likelier to withdraw from others, deal with internal complexes, and experience thoughts of suicide. Depression is something that must be taken seriously and is characterized by a persistent low mood with negative thinking that has lasted for longer than two weeks. A person's behavior is likely to change as well as it becomes difficult for them to function normally.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD happens as an aftereffect of exposure to something which is traumatic and shocking. Now, when many individuals think of PTSD triggers, they think of kidnappings, natural disasters, or other events which may be viewed as more "extreme" than bullying. However, if the bullying behavior was severe enough for the victim to feel a total loss of control or that their lives were in danger, PTSD can sometimes result.
Overcoming The Long Term Effects Of Bullying
Reading about some of the many ways in which bullying can adversely impact someone can be challenging. Of course, each person's experiences are unique and certain effects may manifest in different ways than others. However, there is no denying the existence of long term bullying effects. Ultimately, it is important for everyone to understand ways to overcome bullying and the aftermath which generally follows.
Don't Beat Yourself Up for Feeling Badly
Allowing yourself to process the emotions that come along with experiencing bullying is one of the best things you can do to overcome or even counteract long term effects. In many cases, people are told to "get over" certain feelings, but it's healthy to process your emotions. Anger, sadness, frustration, etc are normal. Nobody enjoys being denigrated, picked on, or otherwise mistreated by other people. The extent of the bullying, the environment, and other factors can also impact how you feel. Take as much time as you need to feel what you need to feel and don't let anyone make you question it.
Have The Right Support System
The impact that a great support system can have when bullying is involved is truly remarkable. Having the right people in your corner ensures that you are not alone. A support system can uplift you, encourage you, and give you something positive to focus on. If you are unsure of how to go about dealing with the bully in your life, the people who comprise your support system can provide helpful advice. Different situations demand certain outcomes, but under no circumstances should you put up with bullying of any kind. Tackling an issue of this magnitude is much less scary when you have people that you can count on.
Nip It In The Bud
If you find yourself in a situation with a bully, reporting the incident to the proper high-ups is always advisable. Dealing with bullying immediately is one of the most effective ways to shielding yourself from the long term impacts. Generally, bullying which lasts for longer periods of time is more harmful than less extended periods. Making notes and having documentation may also be a good idea as well. Additionally, if you have witnesses who can vouch for you and support your claims, this may also ensure that the bully is properly dealt with by the right people.
Make Sure You Live Well
The negative effects of bullying can hit ten times harder when the victim is already dealing with other problems in their life. This is why making sure that you're living a healthy life makes a difference. Taking a recreational class, indulging in hobbies, and self-care are significant things which truly add up over time. Having a good lifestyle (eating, sleeping, and exercising well) also ensures that you have a clearer head when you are faced with challenges that you need to overcome. Living a good life does not mean that you will never cross paths with a bully, but it does increase your likelihood of being in a stronger mental and emotional state.
Don't Harbor Anger
As previously stated, feeling a whirlwind of emotions when faced with a bully is natural. However, with that being said, harboring anger is a mistake. It's okay to feel angry, but finding a healthy outlet to release this anger is imperative. Sometimes, this outlet could involve meditating, working out at the gym, or participating in an artistic activity, such as painting or drawing. It's up to you, but healthy outlets make such a big difference. If you don't find constructive ways of processing your anger, it will eventually poison you and sabotage the opportunities in your life.
See if You Can Remove the Source
Depending on the type of bully you are dealing with, simply removing them from your life could very well be an option. If you are in a relationship with someone who is bullying you, ending that relationship is most certainly the best course of action. You deserve to have a significant other who respects you and has your best interests at heart. If someone is bullying you online, blocking their accounts is an option, as well. Granted, there are certain situations where removing the bully from your life is not feasible or simple. However, if this is something you can do, it's another one of the best ways to overcome the long term, negative effects which are linked to bullying.
Seeking Professional Advice
Whether you're dealing with a bully or some other type of unpleasantry, it's no secret that this can be challenging. It's already been established that having the right support system in your corner makes a difference, although you may also find that having a therapist who you can count on is beneficial.
Working with a therapist doesn't mean that you have to uproot your life or drastically alter your schedule. As a matter of fact, signing up for online therapy is an available option and it assures that you're given world-class care regardless of who you are or where you live. Having some general tips on overcoming bullying effects or dealing with other issues is always helpful. However, an online therapist can get to know you as an individual and then provide guidance and advice which is uniquely tailored to your situation.
Online therapy has improved countless lives and it's never too late to get started.