Somewhere, deep inside a psychological tome, resides a scholarly, yet explanatory text on the after effects suffered by victims of bullying. It is likely fraught with sanitized medical terms and chock full of citations rooted in clinical research and countless ‘patient’ interviews. The collected data and derived conclusions have a sterilizing effect that obscures the truly personal toll bullying exacts from its victims.
Bullying often leaves stubborn (and sometimes indelible) scars on the lives of its victims and their perpetrators. Arguably, there may be life lessons to learn from bullying behavior. For example, bullying may strengthen a victim’s character or an intervention may ultimately inspire altruism in an offender. However, learning life lessons from bullying situations is like learning about traffic safety while walking alongside a freeway during rush hour.
Following are a few observations on the impact of bullying behavior on a ‘victim’. Unfortunately, it is based on first-hand experience.
My bully made me ‘The Funny Guy.’
Bullies never pick on the strong, strapping kid who’s charming and outgoing. Thus, victims harness their Darwinian instincts to survive by leveraging traits they DO possess. In this case study, the trait was wit. Bullies can’t do more than two things at one time. Walking and talking is challenging enough for a bully. Doing them together is just too taxing. Therefore, victims can use their wit to ‘entertain’ and distract their bully. A bully can’t swing or slap if he’s busy guffawing. And if your bully is endowed with their own entourage of sycophants, collectively, they are able to reason that while victims are a dime a dozen, jesters are a rare and valuable find. Many stand-up comedians owe their careers to a bully in their past.
My bully ruined my sales career.
There is absolutely no doubt that the inventive mind which dreamed up and actualized the waterboarding interrogation technique belonged to a bully. Only a bully could rationalize that alternating doses of terror and deliverance would demolish barriers, encourage compliance, and eventually inspire honest cooperation. But, such spastic bouts of fear only incite a smoldering magma that consumes a victim’s self-confidence, causing them to withdraw and become introverted. Unfortunately for victims, this ruins sales careers. The upside: Engineering and other technical careers tend to pay better.
My bully was my best personal trainer
The ongoing battle of the bulge has never met a more formidable foe than the bully. Nothing inspires a workout like the adrenaline-seeped anticipation of a victim’s next encounter with their bully. Tragically, victims rarely reap the benefits of self-defense because bullies possess an uncanny, yet universal ability to adopt an effective Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) strategy. If a victim bulks up, a bully recruits a minion. If a victim enlists the allegiance of a gym buddy, his bully employs a posse. And so on, and so forth. In the end (and barring destruction), a victim gains an appreciation for healthy living.