Abuse Answers

Why abuse is bad?

Abuse is an unfortunate experience some people have to deal with that has many different negative implications.  One difficult part about abuse is that they tend to feel trapped in it when someone is abused. This gives way to the abuse continuing and growing and growing, which can be really harmful to those involved.  Abuse victims might be manipulated to feel weak and as though they are not strong enough to reach out for help.  This shines a light on the fact that abuse has several negative implications for mental health.  Abusers likely have a serious mental health issue that contributes to their actions and will likely not seek help for those actions out of fear that they will get into trouble.  Victims of abuse will likely experience serious mental health issues as a consequence of being abused.  Victims of abuse are more likely to develop serious depression, serious anxiety, PTSD, among other serious mental health issues.  If you have been experiencing domestic violence, reach out for help immediately. You can reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Abuse is bad because of the serious mental health consequences, and many physical health consequences can come from abuse.  Victims of abuse can have serious physical health issues that oftentimes will go unseen and untreated out of fear that they will get their abuser caught.  Physical health issues such as cuts, bruises, broken bones, among others, can lead to even further health issues if untreated.  These serious physical health issues will also become a part of why an abuse victim will feel weak and see their abuser as stronger than them.  A really toxic component to abuse is that it oftentimes sets a precedent and a pattern.  Those involved and/or observing the abuse occurring are more likely to exhibit those abusive behaviors themselves.  Once the abuse starts, it is likely to continue and grow as long as it goes untreated.  Some abuse might start with an accidental action, but if that goes untreated and unaddressed, the abuse can grow into something so much more severe.  Abusers are likely to pass along their abusive behaviors to people in their lives that look up to them, and so the abuse can continue for decades and decades. 
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 05/14/2021

Where bullying came from?

The original definition of the word bully is actually “sweetheart,” which is the opposite of what bullying is understood to be in our society. So, where did bullying really come from? It’s hard to believe, but bullying has its roots at the beginning of animals. Numerous decades of research and articles have revealed that certain animal behavior is a type of bullying. Connected to the survival of the fittest, which for animal species and survival makes sense if you think about the strongest surviving so that the species can continue. Bullying is not unique to the United States. Bullying is global. Most of the research surrounds the behavior of monkeys and a variance thereof and how they assume leadership and control. Additionally, other animal species bully and go as far as killing to remain at the forefront. The human manifestation of bullying has become exponentially more complicated. Because of humans’ ability to communicate verbally, bullying has reflected effective communication skills in verbal abuse, manipulation, and bullying. On top of the verbal ability of human beings, adding to that over the last 30 or so years is the technological advances --now bullies can bully from afar. Mastering the art of bullying even distanced from their victim. Physical bullying has been around for some time as well. Still, as pop culture and societal expectations dictate power and control as attractive and effective, bullying has become even more pronounced through physical harm, mental harm, and verbal harm. So, unlike the animal species whose bullying has specific reasons and rationale for survival, human beings do it in a much more manipulative and competitive fashion. It seems that even with the spotlight on bullying and that bullying is bad and not attractive, people continue to do it for various reasons. And looking at people through the lens of counseling, it seems as if nothing can actually prevent bullying. Many people who are not from marginalized backgrounds are victims of bullying, including wealthy and attractive people. Continuing to keep strong family systems and transparency in expressing feelings while developing esteem can help prevent bullying by stopping it right when it begins. More vulnerable populations will tend to let it keep going because they either don’t know how to stop it or think they deserve it. Schools, families, friends, and society can collectively work hard to keep people safe from being bullied.
(M.Ed., MA, LPC)
Answered on 05/05/2021

How does childhood trauma affect mental health?

There are all kinds of events that can be traumatic. Psychology researchers define trauma as any incident that creates the belief in a person that they are in danger of being seriously injured or dying. Childhood trauma can encompass physical or sexual abuse, single events like natural disasters, and ongoing stressors like being bullied. Children who witness distressing events occur to others can also experience trauma. Adverse childhood experiences or ACES can contribute to risk for mental and physical health issues due to prior trauma. ACES include: Sexual abuse Physical abuse Emotional abuse Physical neglect Emotional neglect Witnessing domestic violence Substance abuse within the home Mental illness within the home Parent separation or divorce Incarceration of a family member A problem that many closely related to trauma is posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Children can experience PTSD. These children may also have issues with anger, depression, difficulty with trust, fear, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Children who don’t meet the criteria for PTSD can still face anger issues, difficulty focusing, fear, anxious thinking about safety, sleeping problems, sadness, and even physical symptoms like stomach ache. Left unaddressed, these can contribute to the development of mental health conditions. Childhood trauma is related to attachment style development and later difficulties in adulthood that may impact the ability to have healthy connections in adulthood. Anxiety disorders, depression, and other disorders are more common in people with untreated childhood trauma. Early childhood trauma is a risk factor for adult depression, PTSD, and most other mental health disorders and physical health problems like heart attack, stroke, cancer, and obesity. Behavior changes resulting from trauma like engaging in risky behaviors like drinking or drug use or even overeating for comfort can contribute to mental and physical health issues. When a person experiences something that triggers the body’s stress response and produces more adrenaline and primes itself to react, this causes wear and tear on the body. Chronic stress increases inflammation in the body has been linked with cardiovascular disease and autoimmune issues. If you’ve experienced trauma in the past, talking with a therapist can help address both the past trauma and also the impacts it may be having on your present mental health and behavior.
(MS., CMHC., NCC.)
Answered on 05/03/2021

Will bullying always exist?

Bullying will possibly always exist as several people do not take traditional bullying and or cyberbullying seriously. However, we all know that traditional bullying and/or cyberbullying is a huge matter brushed under the rug for years by students who could be victims, perpetrators who engage in traditional bullying and/or cyberbullying, school teachers, administrators, school staff, and at times parents. Several people feel like traditional bullying was a rite of passage. However, that assumption is quite detrimental to some students or victims who may not fully recover or get past their traumatic experience with traditional bullying and/or cyberbullying. Recently, more research studies are sharing that there has been an outrageous influx in the number of adolescents who are attempting or committing suicide because of traditional bullying and the rise in cases of cyberbullying. Researchers reported that the third leading cause of death for individuals between 10 and 24 was unfortunately due to suicide. Bullying may always exist, but it does not mean that students, parents, teachers, administrators, support staff, and or members of the community need to work hard and diligently to make sure that there are consequences and or disciplinary actions for individuals who choose to engage in traditional bullying and or cyberbullying. The schools are usually the number one place that traditional bullying and cyberbullying occur. Therefore, the school system needs to come up with strict policy and procedures that are put in place and effectively executed if a student engages in traditional bullying and or cyberbullying after proper training and examples are given to the students for them to get a better understanding of what traditional bullying and cyberbullying looks like. Once students are given a clear and precise understanding of what traditional bullying and cyberbullying look like, and they still choose to engage in traditional bullying and or cyberbullying, then the school or local law enforcement should follow up with the designed consequence for the action.  Consequences in the school can include but are limited to the following: disciplinary actions if the traditional bullying and/or cyberbullying occurred on campus, and parents have the right to contact local law enforcement if the traditional bullying and/or cyberbullying happened off-campus. 
(EdS, LPC-S, NCC, BC-TMH)
Answered on 05/03/2021

Why bullying is bad?

According to Ward Therapy Associates, Bullying occurs when one person (or group of people) in a position of power deliberately intimidates, abuses, or coerces an individual intending to hurt that person physically or emotionally. It is a pattern of aggressive behavior that can be physical or verbal.  Bullying has many negative, long-lasting effects, not only on the bullied but also on those who bully others and those who witness bullying. Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes, including mental health, substance use, and suicide.  Bullied kids often experience negative physical, social, and mental health issues.  They are more likely to suffer from depression or anxiety, have increased feelings of loneliness and sadness, and have health complaints. They are also more likely to lose interest in the things they previously loved. Their sleeping patterns and eating patterns can change, and they are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school. According to stopbullying.org, 12 out of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied at school. Social rejection and bullying are common factors among students who become school shooters. Students are reacting to bullying much more violently than in the past.  According to USA Today, there have been 25 fatal school shootings since the infamous Columbine shooting in 1999.   In the last 30 years, the suicide rate among middle-school-age children has increased 50%, as reported by The American Association of Suicidology.  There is a clear increase in violence towards others and oneself as a reaction to social rejection and bullying. According to stopbullying.org, kids who bully others are more likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs while young and as adults. They’re more likely to get into fights or vandalize property. They have higher dropout rates, higher rates of criminal convictions, and traffic citations as adults and can even become abusive to their partners, spouses, or children as adults. Sometimes, those who are bullied become those who bully. According to stopbullying.com, those who both bully and are bullied suffer the most serious effects. They are at greater risk for mental and behavioral problems than those who are victims or bullies alone. Rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide ideation and behaviors are greatest in this group. 
(LMHC, CSAYC)
Answered on 05/03/2021

Where is abuse most likely to occur?

To understand where abuse occurs, it is first important to define “abuse.” Abuse is a term that has stood for many different injustices that occur in the world, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, abuse of power, abuse of drugs and alcohol, etc. In that sense, abuse is most likely to happen anywhere. But like the sewage systems that wind under our cities, abuse is often hidden from sight, and we keep it underground because it is hard to look at and think about, and most people would like to pretend that it does not exist. This has left a vacuum for victims of abuse to feel ashamed or dirty, or even stupid for being in a position where they were abused, and a culture of victim-blaming that points more at the person who has suffered than the broken system. Reporting abuse is often challenging and often re-traumatizing for abuse victims, so many crimes and instances of abuse go unpunished and even unheard.  Unfortunately, this is likely to happen close to home in terms of child abuse, sexual abuse, and domestic abuse. Even though it may seem more widespread in the media and true crime documentaries, violent crime is not as likely to happen randomly or from a stranger. Most abusers are people we know and even trust, which also makes reporting and understanding this kind of abuse even more difficult, as it has the capacity to affect entire families. Sometimes parents and family members are complicit in abuse scenarios or are in denial about what has happened because it is too difficult for them to imagine something happening to their children. In this statistic from https://www.enoughabuse.org/gtf/who-are-the-abusers.html, in 90% of cases, the person who commits child abuse is someone who is known to the child. In terms of sexual abuse, in this statistic from https://www.rainn.org/statistics/perpetrators-sexual-violence, 75% of reported instances involve a sexual perpetrator who a partner or acquaintance. In this statistic about domestic violence from  https://www.thehotline.org/stakeholders/domestic-violence-statistics/,  over 35.6% of women and 28.5% of men in the US have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. The troubling answer to your question is that abuse can happen anywhere, including places where you are supposed to feel safe. It is important to familiarize yourself with recognizing signs of abuse in your own relationships and how to get help if you are experiencing this. If you suspect abuse is happening to someone else, there are also resources you can use to get help for that person, especially if they are a child, person with disabilities, or a person over age 65. If you have experienced abuse in your life, there are also many resources for healing, including attending therapy, joining trauma support groups, and working to feel stronger and more empowered. Some people find doing things like reporting the crime and testifying against their abuser empowering; some might find solace and strength in taking self-defense classes or jujitsu to feel stronger in your body and mind. Meditation and breathing work can be helpful and movement-based therapy and expressive therapies, such as music or art therapy. Some animal-assisted therapists use animals as part of the therapy process, including horses and dogs. EMDR is a type of therapy that has shown good results for overcoming trauma and abuse. Healing is possible for everyone and more effective when you reach out to others for help to get through it. Resources: Domestic Abuse: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/domestic-violence-and-abuse.htm https://www.thehotline.org/ Child Abuse: https://www.childhelp.org/story-resource-center/child-abuse-education-prevention-resources/ https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Resource_Centers/Child_Abuse_Resource_Center/Home.aspx] Sexual Abuse: https://www.rainn.org/ All-Inclusive Resources: https://ncadv.org/resources
(M.Ed, LPC)
Answered on 05/03/2021

Why abuse is wrong

According to the Canadian Department of Justice, abuse is behavior used to intimidate, isolate, dominate or control another person. It may be a pattern of behavior, or it may be a single incident. Abusive behavior might involve acts or words or even neglect. Abuse happens when someone hurts or mistreats you. Abuse can happen to anyone: someone in a family or someone in a dating relationship, a spouse or former spouse, a partner in an intimate relationship or former partner, a child, a young person, or an older person. The abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, or financial. You may experience more than one type of abuse. No one has the right to abuse you because abuse is wrong. According to healhychildren.org, in most cases, children who are abused or neglected suffer both mentally and physically. Emotional and psychological abuse and neglect deny the child the tools needed to cope with stress and learn new skills to become resilient, strong, and successful. So a child who is maltreated or neglected may have a wide range of reactions and may even become depressed or develop suicidal ideation, withdraw, or engage in violent behavior. Abuse or neglect may stunt the physical development of the child’s brain and lead to psychological problems, such as low self-esteem, which could later lead to high-risk behaviors, such as substance use. As the survivor gets older, he may use drugs or alcohol, may try to run away, refuse discipline, or abuse others. As an adult, he may develop marital and sexual difficulties, depression, or suicidal behavior.  These long-term effects are clear reasons why abuse is wrong. According to childwelfare.org, child abuse and neglect also have been associated with certain regions of the brain failing to form, function, or grow properly. For example, a history of maltreatment may be correlated with reduced volume in overall brain size and may affect several brain regions' size and/or functioning.  Some of these affected brain regions include the amygdala, which is key to processing emotions; the hippocampus, which is central to learning and memory, the orbitofrontal cortex, which is responsible for reinforcement-based decision-making and emotion regulation; the cerebellum, which helps coordinate motor behavior and executive functioning, and the corpus callosum, which is responsible for left brain/right brain communication and other processes (e.g., arousal, emotion, higher cognitive abilities). You may be facing special challenges, but you have choices no matter what kind of situation you are in. You are not alone, and help is available. Would you please reach out to a trusted adult, therapist, or law enforcement?
(LMHC, CSAYC)
Answered on 04/30/2021

Where does abuse come from?

All behaviors are learned. Much of what we know comes from what we were exposed to growing up. Older generations pass things down to us all of the time. Some things are genetic, such as eye color or hair texture. Other things are social, like family traditions. These are things that can have positive impacts on our behavior. Unfortunately, it is also possible to inherit negative things from older generations, such as abuse.  Generational abuse is abuse that crosses generational family lines. This occurs when one family member takes the violence they have experienced and passes it to another family member. Often, a parent can pass this abuse on to their child. For example, a child whose abuse is disguised as “discipline” may also “discipline” their children in the same way, or a child who a family member sexually abuses may be told to keep it a secret, and when they have a child themselves, they may teach them to respond the same way when something similar happens to them. A child who grew up in a controlling environment may regain that control by behaving the same way towards their own children. This is generational abuse, and it can be very difficult to break the cycle. Not every victim of abuse goes on to abuse their own children. However, some statistics show a link between being abused and becoming an abuser. According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children, roughly 30% of child abuse victims will continue the cycle of abuse with their own children. This is because we first learn how to interact with people by interacting with our parents. This is the first real relationship that we form. It impacts our behavior for the rest of our lives, whether we like it or not.  While breaking a cycle of anything can be difficult, breaking the cycle of abuse is completely possible. Knowing the signs of child abuse and recognizing them in your own life is a start. It can be difficult to accept that you were abused as a child if you have been conditioned to deny or minimize your trauma. However, recognizing the physical, mental, and emotional signs of abuse in your own life can start the process of breaking the cycle.
(LMHC, CSAYC)
Answered on 04/30/2021

Where Does Abuse Happen the Most?

Content/Trigger Warning: Please be advised that the article below might mention trauma-related topics that include types of abuse & violence that could be triggering. What Abuse is and When it Occurs The Merriam-Webster dictionary demonstrates that the word “abuse” has different meanings. When people think of abuse, they may think of physical and sexual abuse, but a person can also abuse a person verbally (revile someone). Additionally, a person may abuse their power and privilege. Abuse is often a pattern of behavior, and it usually involves a person who is in control taking advantage of another person or an animal who lacks control and power. For example, just as a parent or guardian can abuse a child, so can a person in law enforcement abuse a civilian or a manager who abuses an employee, or a human can abuse a pet. Again, the abuse does not have to be violent in nature, and in some cases, the person abused does not even recognize it. Even more significant is that, after a person experiences abuse, especially when it is prolonged, they may actually make excuses for the abuser, feeling that the abuse is justified. This can be especially dangerous and lead to inaction to escape the abuse or to put themselves in further situations with others where abuse is likely to occur. If you have been experiencing domestic violence, reach out for help immediately. You can reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. What Makes Abuse More Likely to Occur We know that some cultures (and this word is used here in a broad sense and include work cultures, school cultures, home cultures, community cultures, etc.) can make it more likely for abuse to occur or abuse is not recognized as abuse due to power dynamics. Abuse is more likely to occur when the person who is being abused has little outside support to stop the abuse and does not feel that they have a voice. Additionally, when the authorities and resources available do not recognize that what is occurring is abuse or ignore it, the abuse is likely to continue. Reasons that the abuse may be ignored can include society considering the person who is abused is less than (for example, a criminal, being a minority, a person addicted to drugs or alcohol), or the abuser, due to fame or fortune, is worshipped by society and given a sort of clemency to continue whatever behaviors. We also know that blaming the survivor, which is especially likely to occur when the person seems foreign to us and cannot make sense of the person’s decisions, can perpetuate the abuse. For example, some believe that those who stay in an abusive relationship deserve the abuse because they decide to stay without the outside observer appreciating the challenges, including often fear, associated with leaving the relationship and the impact the abuse has had on the survivor’s self-worth.
(MRC, LPCC-S, LICDC)
Answered on 04/30/2021

Will bullying ever end?

Bullying has been a problem for years and generations. The odds of it suddenly coming to an end is highly unlikely. Unfortunately, kids can be cruel, hurt people hurt people, and abuse is a vicious cycle. We all say we want to stop bullying, and we create all these anti-bullying laws to show we are putting forth the effort. However, bullying will never end because we struggle to acknowledge it is happening in our backyard. We do not get the bully and bully the help they need. We don’t hold all parties responsible for the role they played.  BULLYING IS HAPPENING Too many schools, administrators, teachers, and parents will not accept that bullying is happening in their academic institutions. The anti-bullying laws and programs have unintentionally given a false sense of protection against bullying in these institutions. These laws and programs only provided an outline and plan for what to do in a bullying situation and some tools to be proactive. However, bullying is still happening. Since we have been given the tools needed to handle it, we should be more vigilant in catching it, punishing it, and offering rehabilitation for all parties. We can’t fix something that we don’t admit exists.  THERAPY & REHABILITATION Bullying is a behavior that needs to have consequences. However, it can’t stop there. The person committing the bullying act is exhibiting these behaviors for a reason. There is something else going on for this person to feel that this behavior is warranted or allowed. The bully needs to sit down with a counselor to explore why they thought they needed to bully another person. The bullied party also needs time with a counselor to explore how they handle the trauma and why they did not reach out for help if that’s the case. If we can take the time to counsel and rehabilitate the individuals currently in prison, then let's counsel and rehabilitate current bullies, which could prevent them from going to prison in the future.   ALL PARTIES ACCOUNTABLE There have been numerous cases where the person being bullied reported the trauma and was told to ignore it or stand up for themselves. The majority of those cases end up getting worse. Anyone and everyone who is aware of a bullying situation and does not take steps to end it should be held accountable and suffer the consequences. Bystanders to bullying are almost as bad as the actual bully, and they should be considered an accomplice to the trauma. The expectation should be that adults stop the bullying immediately once aware, and students get help immediately. Plus, any retaliation towards the upstander (bystander who intervenes) also has consequences, therapy, and rehabilitation. If everyone is held accountable for their role in bullying, more people will think twice about allowing it to continue. The only way to ever come close to ending bullying is for everyone to come together to stop it consistently. 
(LPC, LMHC, NCC)
Answered on 04/28/2021

Why bullying should stop?

Bullying is a very toxic behavior that can impact people in a variety of serious ways.  The number one reason bullying should stop is for safety reasons.  There are a number of unsafe consequences bullying can cause.  There are physical safety consequences, such as someone getting physically assaulted.  There are mental safety consequences as well, such as emotional abuse.  Both of these can lead to further issues, which is more reason why bullying should stop.  For example, when someone is emotionally bullied, that can lead to serious mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.  Those consequences of bullying can last for much longer than the initial bullying.  Someone could get physically hurt, and it could take a long time to heal.  Someone could have mental health issues that last them their entire life because of the bullying they experienced in their earlier years of life.  When our minds are developing in younger years of life, the messages we receive can last a lifetime.  Therefore, if you are bullied in those years of life, the scars could stay with you into adulthood.  If bullying can stop quickly after it starts, that can hopefully prevent the scarring from happening.  The severity of the bullying will impact if it will leave a lasting scar or not.  For example, if someone is called a hurtful name once and never again, they will likely heal from that and not have any lasting scarring.  Whether someone is bullied or the person bullying, they could be subject to issues that last throughout their lives.  For example, if a bully gets used to bullying, that person could continue to bully in more serious ways as time goes on and could even lead to them being in jail at some point.  Bullying also can have a lasting negative impact on the environment in which the bullying is occurring.  For example, if someone is bullying in the workplace, that will likely change the dynamics at work and lead others to be uncomfortable at the workplace, even if they are not bullied. 
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 04/28/2021

Why bullying is a problem?

            Bullying is something that is often associated with school-age years, but it is actually something that can occur at any age in life.  Bullying can differ in severity and thus have differing impacts, but it is definitely a problem regardless of the severity.  Bullying signals problems within the bully and also causes problems for the target of the bully.              When someone bullies others, there is typically something wrong in their own life that they are trying to distract from.  Some bullies have issues occurring at home and find that bullying others gives them a distraction. They also find that they can avoid their own pain by bullying others and somewhat put it onto others.  Doing so can sometimes be quite addictive for bullies because, at the moment, it feels better than facing the issues in their life.  However, it can repress these emotions in the long term, which can cause them to explode someday.  Also, if a bully does get in the habit of not addressing their issues and taking things out on others, it can lead to great difficulties in their lives.  For example, loss of jobs, loss of relationships, and even abusive tendencies could form if a bully does not address their bullying behaviors.              When someone is bullied, they can easily take on the negative feelings caused by the bullying.  When bullied, people often struggle with low self-esteem, body image issues, anxiety, depression, and many other negative symptoms.  If someone is bullied often enough, it can lead to severe mental health issues that can be difficult to live with.  When bullied, it can be helpful to recognize why someone bullies rather than take on what the bully is saying and/or doing.  For example, if a bully is insulting their target, it can be helpful to think about why the bully needs to do that rather than to believe what the insult is.              Bullying is something that should always be addressed, no matter the severity.  When it is not addressed, it can lead to many bigger issues that could be avoided if it is quickly addressed.  Addressing bullying can be a great way to stop hate in the world and help those that need help. 
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 04/28/2021

Where does bullying happen?

Bullying can happen anywhere. It can happen in various areas of a building, in several situations, and many environments. Bullying is using power and force to control or harm another person. This abusive behavior will sometimes be done privately to keep from getting caught or in public to add the pain of humiliation to the victim. Regardless, if the goal is for privacy or publicity, the bully will always find the right venue.  SCHOOL BUILDING In the school building, there are specific locations that have a higher likelihood of bullying behaviors. The easiest area is the school playground since the adults can’t cover or watch the entire playground at all times. The hallways/stairwells are the most common areas for bullying since they are either too crowded or empty; either way, the risk of getting caught is low. Other sites for bullying are the classroom, cafeteria, bathroom, and even the school bus. Each of these areas offers isolation or publicity.  CYBERSPACE Cyberspace is the virtual world that exists within the internet. Some bullies do not dare to attack someone in person, so they hide behind their computers. This keeps them hidden from the person they are hurting and everyone else. Often, the bully will create a fake online profile or use an alias when cyberbullying to ensure they remain anonymous. It is falsely believed that the internet is a safe place to do and say whatever, so bullies use it as their playground to hurt others.  ANYWHERE The truth is bullying can happen anywhere. Kids are not the only ones bullied; adults are victims of bullying too. Since anyone can be the victim of bullying, it can occur at work, at the gym, and even in the home. Regardless of age, a bully will do whatever it takes to make themselves feel powerful, strong, and better about themselves. The venue will not stop bullying from happening.  Where bullying happens is a small piece of the puzzle. The focus needs to be on the signs and symptoms that someone is suffering from being bullied. This will provide the awareness to observe who is being bullied and trigger an investigation to lead to where the bullying is happening. 
(LPC, LMHC, NCC)
Answered on 04/28/2021

Where Does Bullying Come From?

Content/Trigger Warning: Please be advised that the article below might mention trauma-related topics that include types of abuse that could be triggering. Bullying, like most behaviors, is largely learned. People learn behaviors, such as bullying, by seeing others exhibit these same behaviors and/or receiving rewards by doing them themselves. Bullying comes from an imbalance in power, whether associated with a difference in a person’s size, reputation, rank, wealth, or social status. People tend to keep doing things that give them favorable results, so if they feel that they benefit from bullying and do not experience negative consequences, they will likely continue to bully. Many people who bully have experienced a sense of low power and control in their lives, whether that is a result of being bullied themselves, having been abused, having been neglected, or feeling unappreciated. Many bully people have low self-esteem and attempt to feel better about themselves by putting another person down. Some bullies hold onto a great deal of anger, and because of difficulty expressing that anger, they find satisfaction in bringing displeasure to others. Others bully to try to impress their friends, and others bully to try to improve their self-esteem. Consequently, while it is important that the person bullied receives support, it is also important for the person to inflicting the bullying to receive help. Until the underlying issues that contribute to bullying are addressed and the bully learns new methods for coping with challenging feelings, they may continue to result in bullying as a strategy for coping with internal pain. Unfortunately, a bully may have multiple victims at once or bully one person and then another. The bullying is not motivated by the person being bullied but rather by the bully’s own struggles. Some underlying mental health disorders may be associated with bullying. These could include Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder, to name a few. Again, many children who bully come from unhappy home environments where they may witness and/or experienced abuse within the family or feel neglected or unwanted. However, since bullying is a learned behavior, new behaviors can also be learned. A person who bullies can work on expressing their feelings appropriately and developing empathy for others.
(MRC, LPCC-S, LICDC)
Answered on 04/28/2021

When does bullying go wrong?

Overall, in the U.S. and all over the world, bullying is taking place at epidemic levels. Many of us have experienced bullying or been complicit in bullying, whether consciously or unconsciously. Perhaps, we don’t say anything while hearing gossip to avoid being targeted or join in to feel like a part of the group. It has almost become an expected part of different areas of life—home, school, work, sports, leisure activities, and social activities. Social dynamics often involve individuals competing for dominance or attention, which may start friendly or without malicious intent. Unfortunately, the impact of bullying can have long-lasting and severe impacts on victims, who may struggle with the impact for the rest of their lives. Survivors of bullying may suffer from low self-esteem, deep-seated feelings of insecurity or inferiority, social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, depression, or PTSD. Bullying can also contribute to health problems as stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline, are released with the activation of the primitive fight, flight, or freeze response to the continued perceived threats to safety.  Bullying can impact a survivor’s ability to trust, learn, take social risks to form friendships and connections, and stifle their confidence and ability to pursue their dreams. In some cases, bullying can lead to suicide, increasing sharply among teens and young adults. Cyberbullying and the increased use of social media magnify the negative impact of bullying, often leading the victims to feel like they cannot escape its influence. Furthermore, private photos might be circulated among peers, which can have a devastating and long-lasting impact. Research has indicated that there is a link between bullying and suicide attempts. Recent statistics by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that suicide rates among young people ages 10 to 24 have risen 57% between 2007 and 2018. The documentary Audrie & Daisy tells the story of two young girls who died by suicide after bullying to raise awareness about the potentially lethal impact of bullying. If you are struggling with bullying, the professional support of counselors can help. If you have been experiencing any suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  
(MA, LPC)
Answered on 04/28/2021

When does bullying become harassment?

Bullying and harassment are concepts that sometimes occur simultaneously. Bullying can lead to harassment under special circumstances. However, people tend to think of them as interchangeable or synonyms for one another. This is not the case.  Bullying is defined as being the use of aggressive behaviors (making threats, spreading lies/isolating someone from others, using verbal or physical violence, etc.) to intentionally harm or cause fear and distress in another person. These actions/behaviors happen over and over again (rather than just once) and the bully often perceives their victim as being “less than” or more vulnerable. Meanwhile, harassment refers to the use of aggressive behaviors against a person that is solely based on a “protected” class or identity. Both bullying and harassment involve a perceived (or actual) power imbalance and a perception, on the part of the bully, that a person is less than. However, while anyone can be bullied, not everyone will experience harassment. Furthermore, harassment can be defined based on the person's location or where the harassment took place (i.e. a school/university, the workplace, etc.). The “protected classes” that have been defined by the federal government are race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, and nationality. However, individual schools, counties, states, and workplaces might add additional classes in order to protect different groups from harassment or discrimination. For example, the federal government does not include protections for gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. However, a college or university might take it upon themselves to include LGBTQIA+ people within their nondiscrimination policies. So, if a student is facing repeated aggressive behaviors that are solely based on their sexual orientation, then a college will be able to define this as harassment. At the end of the day, both harassment and bullying are actions that are meant to perpetuate fear and violence against someone. Both of them have underlying themes around power and abuse. However, bullying can literally happen to anyone in any setting at any point in their life. While this is terrible and can leave a lasting impact on a person, it is not the same as harassment. Harassment uses the inequalities that have been established within society to cause further harm to already vulnerable populations.
(Masters, of, Social, Work)
Answered on 04/28/2021

What to do when bullying goes high tech?

The impact of bullying can have a long-lasting and adverse impact on an individual’s physical health, mental health, relationships, ability to trust, and educational and career opportunities. In the U.S., the rates of bullying have increased self-harming behaviors and suicide attempts. If you have been experiencing any suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Cyberbullying uses technology, such as text messaging, communication apps, social media, forums, email, to send, share, or post negative, harmful, or threatening content. Cyberbullying is repetitive and can involve making threats, verbal or emotional abuse, and public shaming and humiliation. Cyberbullying is different from bullying in that the victim may have a hard time escaping from the abuse, which might otherwise be confined to school or public settings. In addition, cyberbullying can involve not just a handful of observers, but thousands or even millions of observers, which can magnify the negative impact.  Different forms of cyberbullying, according to Accredited School Online, include impersonation or fraping, which involves someone gaining access to a victim’s social media account, impersonating the person and posting harmful or inappropriate content; cyberstalking, which is using technology to harass or threaten someone; flaming, which is posting harmful or derogatory comments on someone’s social media; outing, which is sharing someone’s private information online;  harassment, which is sending constant abusive messages online privately or publicly; trolling, which is trying to provoke someone or trying to incite anger; trickery, which typically involves befriending someone to gain and reveal private information; catfishing, which involves pretending to be someone else and using another person’s identity; denigration, which is posting rumors and gossip to ruin someone’s reputation; and excluding, which is taking someone out of online events, conversations, or groups. Several powerful stories in Big Tech Tyrants illustrate the real-world impact of cyberbullying. A young teenager hung herself after nine teenagers stalked and harassed her for months, bullying her at school and on social media. The online bullies faced criminal charges. Another university student jumped off a bridge after a private moment of him kissing another man is posted online in a taunting and harmful way. In another instance, a young girl sent a nude photo to her boyfriend, who then shared the photo after breaking up, leading to bullying and public humiliation. She attempted to end her life and then appeared on TV to share her story to try and help others. There are many more stories like these. If you have been experiencing any suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Learning about and raising awareness about the dangers of cyberbullying and its impact is important for youth, educators, and parents alike. Talking to children about cyberbullying, educating them about safe practices online, using online privacy and security measures, building trust, and creating a safe environment can help address cyberbullying.  Other ways for youth to cope with bullying are to ignore negative comments, let a teacher or parent know, or if it rises to a level of threat, abuse, or sexually explicit material, contact police. Blocking individuals who are bullying, deleting social media or other communication apps, or taking breaks from technology can also help. Parents, teachers, mentors, and friends can also look for warning signs, such as withdrawing from friends, sudden changes in behavior, being easily startled or jumpy, changes in mood, or poor grades.
(MA, LPC)
Answered on 04/28/2021

What bullying means?

Bullying is unwanted and aggressive behavior that repeatedly occurs in situations or relationships with a real or perceived imbalance of power. This definition has several parts which are important in differentiating bullying from other types of aggressive behavior. An imbalance of power can exist where there is an imbalance of physical strength, access to information about a person that one person has and attempts to use over them, or when the bullying party is more powerful due to social position. The ability of the behavior to repeat or a history of it repeating is a facet of bullying, which differentiates it from a one-time assault.  There are multiple types of bullying—verbal bullyings like name-calling, insults, threats, and sexual comments. Relational bullying differs because it focuses on ruining someone’s relationships with others or their reputation. This kind of bullying can look like leaving someone out or excluding them intentionally, lying or spreading rumors about someone, or intentionally publicly embarrassing someone. Physical bullying is just like it sounds and involves hurting someone else’s body or their belongings. It may involve physical acts like the destruction of property, stealing, spitting, hitting, or pushing. Bullying can take place in a variety of settings but commonly occurs in schools. It may also occur outside of school at school-sanctioned activities, buses to and from school, or in the neighborhood where a child lives. Some bullying takes place online and is called cyberbullying. This form of bullying is common and utilizes social media, chat forums, and other online spaces to bully others. Bullying can have impacts on all those involved in it, from the perpetrators to victims to bystanders. Kids bullied are more prone to depression and anxiety, health complaints, and trouble with academics. Kids who bully others are more likely to misuse substances, experience criminal convictions as adults, and become abusive toward later romantic partners or their children. Those who are witnesses of bullying are more likely to use substances, have an increased likelihood of mental health problems, and miss or skip school more often. If you’re concerned that your child may be experiencing bullying, you can watch for these signs: Unexplainable injuries Missing or damaged personal items Complaints of physical pain or pretending to be sick Running away from home Decreased self-esteem Sudden lack of interest in once enjoyed activities Sudden withdrawal from social activities There may not always be signs, though. Talking with your child is important to understand what is going home. Talking with a therapist about supporting your child and offering therapy as a resource to your child can be very beneficial.
(MS., CMHC., NCC.)
Answered on 04/28/2021

What Bullying Looks Like?

What is Bullying Bullying may seem like a simple concept to understand. The word often conjures up images of a much larger person pushing another person down on a playground or taunting that person. However, bullying is actually far more complex and can occur in any social setting. Bullying is intimidation, harassment, or aggression of another person through the use of force or threat of force, or manipulation.  Bullying does not have to be physical, but it does involve a power imbalance, whether that be regarding a person’s size, social status, reputation, age, etc. This may take the form of teasing, taking someone’s belongings, or physical violence at school. It can take the form of over-delegating work in the workplace, constantly putting someone down, disrespecting a person’s workspace, and causing a person to work at unanticipated times or for unfair compensation. Bullying is a pattern of behavior, and the person deemed as “weak” (in whatever way this is perceived) is the person who is bullied. Still, ironically, many people who bully others have been bullied themselves. Most bullies have experienced a low level of control themselves and may have experienced humiliation, abuse, or neglect. What is Cyberbullying Cyberbullying is a relatively new concept that has emerged as more and more people spend an increasing amount of time on the Internet, including chat rooms, messaging, and social media. The anonymity allowed by the Internet, coupled with the sense of invisibility that people may feel when in their own home on their private computer, makes some people who may otherwise not bully choose to do so. Again, many bullies have experienced bullying in some fashion themselves. Spreading true or untrue rumors, making insulting comments about a person’s uploaded picture, name-calling, threatening, and harassing can occur online. How to Identify Who is Bullied Typically, when bullying occurs, multiple people will be aware that it is happening. Even if someone does not witness the bullying itself, there are signs that a person is being bullied, such as the person appearing depressed, avoiding school or other places where the behaviors are occurring, becoming aggressive themselves, withdrawing and isolating, avoiding social events, having difficulty expressing feelings, neglecting their appearance or becoming preoccupied with their appearance, etc. You must let a person in authority know if you or someone you know is being bullied.  
(MRC, LPCC-S, LICDC)
Answered on 04/28/2021

What bullying isn’t?

This is such a great inquiry because as bullying and bullying are becoming more mainstream, people are misinterpreting and misusing the terminology. Bullying, by definition, is utilizing intimidation and force, making someone do something they don’t necessarily want to do as if they feel they do not have any choice. A perfect example is seen via mafia members. Another example much more commonplace would be a child bullying another child into giving them their lunch each day at school. Actual bullying is a crisis among schools and neighborhoods. Name-calling and emotional and verbal abuse When a person tears down another through the use of name-calling and verbal aggression, many people describe this as bullying, and while a bully can use it in the form of tearing someone down, it is not bullying per se. However, the treatment is just as concerning and serious and is often practiced by someone considered a bully. Many people misinterpret innocent teasing or sarcasm as bullying as well. While some people do not want to engage in any of this kind of back-and-forth with people, it is not technically bullying. It is, however, annoying into a more sensitive human being, can be construed as upsetting and affect esteem that is trying to be developed. Norms Concerning communication, teasing, sarcasm, bullying, aggressive language, emotional and verbal abuse, there doesn’t seem to be a need for much of this between people who love and care for each other. Innocent play and teasing between friends who have a very strong connection and bond which can manage it psychologically seem OK. But a rule of thumb to follow would be to manage relationships without these things, especially those considered abusive. If there is a desire to tease, ensure that both sides are on the same playing field with respect to how each person feels about this! Unfortunately, this society connects being able to handle teasing (and in some cases) even bullying as a form of strength, but this is not true.
(M.Ed., MA, LPC)
Answered on 04/28/2021