This is something people say about victims of bullying ever since bullying was first started. That somehow it is the victim’s fault he or she is bullied because they don’t stand up for themselves. My mother’s favourite line when I complained about having been picked on at school was “I would have gone up to the kid and socked him.” Some misinformed persons even go onto say that bullying actually toughens the victim, trust me, it doesn’t.
So why doesn’t the victim fight back? In many cases, it’s just not possible. The victim is faced with impossible odds that should they fight back, the outcome would not be good. Often times, the bully is not on his own, surrounded by friends who may or may not come to his aid, but whose presence is enough to make the victim feel they would. Then there is the myth that bullies are cowards who if you stand up to them will back down. No! Bullies are not cowards. They bully because of their feeling of power and because they can. Often times they are bigger and stronger than their victim and in many cases, already have a reputation for fighting. Psychologically, this gives the victim a feeling that if they do fight back, they’re going to get beat up so it’s best to take it.
Drawing from my own experiences, there are other reasons as well and I’m sure that other victims of bullying have experienced this too. That is what happens when you do fight back. On a good number of occasions, I did fight back and as a result, it was me who ended up in the most trouble. The bullies, with their friends as witnesses, made out to teachers that I had started all the trouble and the teacher normally believed them. Often times because of their standing in the school but other times because instances of previous bullying incidents had bottled up inside me, my response to the particular instance overmatched the amount of bullying I was being subjected to. The teacher, who had no previous knowledge of other events, simply saw me flipping out and drew conclusions from that. A few times of this happening and you do end up feeling that if you stand up for yourself or fight back, you are the one that’s going to be in trouble and give everybody in the school the excuse to brand you as a “troublemaker.”
Feelings of helplessness are the main preventers of bullying victims fighting back. They often feel that if they do, the outcome for them will be far worse. Of course, this is what the bully wants so they increase the onslaught on the victim to the point where life can become unbearable. We all know what the final consequences of this can lead: self harming, suicide and even school shootings. In “He Was Weird” Mark faces the same dilemma. Once it is understood that bullying is not the fault of the victim, then we will be one step closer to eradicating it.
Next post: It’s Only Teasing