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THE BULLY AND THE BULLIED
"A sobering look at bullies and their victims."
As a survivor of bullying, I'm here to tell you that the affects of the intimidation and the trauma that comes with being bullied are no joke, especially to the victims. Due to the recent intensity of media coverage on bullying as well as seeing and hearing the victims on TV has turned something up inside of me that I cannot seem to shake off. My heart is gripped with pain and my stomach is filled with a sick heavy feeling at the inhumane actions that children and young adults are committing against each other.
As if by osmosis my physical reactions are turned into an anger that is steeped in righteous indignation. To witness how out of control bullying has become, especially in public schools, through cell phone texting and cyber bullying is horrifying at best. In my case thirty plus years later the lingering memories of the bullying I endured still makes my eyes well up with tears.
It doesn't matter what kind of bully you are, a student, parent, peer, or professional, someone needs to ask you, "What it is that fuels your need to intimidate and abuse another human-being?"
I say to those doing the bullying, "Do you realize that for the child/young adult that you are intimidating it is confusing and difficult to understand why the abuse is happening? Not to mention the kind of pain and traumatic scars that it can leave on the soul of the victim! Who is or has intimidated and hurt you so badly that you feel the need to pass on such intimidation and pain? Is someone or something hurting you? How does it make you feel? Do you think it feels any better to the person or persons that you are passing it on to?
Whatever your answer, encourage you to take a careful look at the deepest and most humane part of yourself and ask, "What or who do I really care about? Would I want someone I love hurt this way?" Maybe you don't love anyone or anything.(Maybe your own pain is so great that bullying has become the only way to have a sense of control in your own life.) If so, than you need to know that you are not alone and that you need to get help before you continue to destroy other people's lives as well as your own.
Regardless of what's going on inside of you I strongly encourage you to reach out and get the support you need to change your behavior. Whether it is a pastor of a church, a youth or adult learning center, a counselor at school, a true and trusted friend (not one who is participating in abusive behaviors with you) or mentor through a public program. I'm here to tell you, that someone will reach back!" Victims are not the only recipients of these programs, nor should they be. We As a society we need to remember there is a firm and indisputable lesson in life that we all need to learn and adhere to - that our rights end where another person's begins.
Many years ago I made a promise to myself, that I would never bully or intentionally abuse another human being, and by the grace of God, I never have. When children or adults are at the mercy of an abuser or a bully they are not only robbed of their safety, but the right to choose their fate. Bullying is unkind, unfair and cruel, period. Whenever someone is unevenly yoked and at the mercy of a bully, especially one who is lacking a decent sense of right and wrong, and empathy towards other human beings, those around them are at the risk of becoming victims.
I remember having gum and lolly pops stuck in my hair and being shoved down three to seven stairs at a time between classes in grammar and high school. Almost every day in high school my lunch was stolen and eaten in front of me by some roughneck boys that made hateful gestures at me while they savagely tore my lunch apart and ate it between them. One day I dared to speak out only to find myself lying on my back with a cracked elbow in the middle of the gym floor. The innocent students standing by did not get involved for fear of their own safety.
For me it was the degrading name calling that helped destroy what little self-worth I had left, from the abusive home in which I grew up. This adds another burden and angle to the unfortunate position of the victim. Many children who are bullied also have a less than desirable home life. I remember thinking that, I must have a "victim odor" that the bullies could smell about me, and that I must deserve this treatment."
I've always wanted to question the parents or guardians whom raised these bullies, "What is going on in your home? What kind of examples of fair treatment are you teaching and showing your children? Are they learning the lessons of accountability, right and wrong, and that there are consequences for their behavior?
To the victims I say, 'We will not always get the restitution that we feel we deserve, especially from our abusers. Soul wounds can linger for a lifetime and don't usually heal like the scrapped knees of childhood. But believing that you are less than or deserving of abuse is the erroneous thinking of the often distorted world system in which we live. It does not come from a loving God.
Several years after my life of hell as victim had ended, I was out for a walk with my new baby, when an unfamiliar truck pulled up beside me. It was one of my grade school and high school bullies. Immediately I was filled with panic. He rolled down the window and in a humiliated and uncertain voice asked if I could ever forgive him for the horrible way he had treated me? His hatefulness had caught up with his conscience.
The last thought I had about this boy, now a man, was contempt. In a trembling voice I said, "Sure." Was I sure? Not really, but I couldn't help but have empathy for him, that I know today was God-given.
When I got home and told my husband what had just happened, I cried like a baby. At last a small piece of my self-worth that had been so recklessly taken from me in my youth was given back to me.
No man or woman is an island, no, not one of us! Our actions will forever affect the lives of those around us. faith hope
Dr. Aphrodite Matsakis has authored over twelve books on an array of psychological topics, Including post-traumatic stress, depression, and women’s issues, grieving, survivors of sexual and physical assault, suicide, family violence, vehicular accidents, combat trauma and natural disasters.
By; Aphrodite Matsakis Ph.D.
For centuries child abuse and other forms of family violence were shrouded in denial. Even in our own country, laws against animal cruelty existed before laws against child abuse. In the 1960’s the silence began to be broken and today the problem of child abuse is widely recognized. However, to date, the emphasis has been primarily on child sexual abuse and, after that, on physical abuse. Yet the effects of other forms of abuse, such as emotional abuse and neglect, which are just as devastating to the human psyche, are often minimized, if not overlooked.
Hence the importance of this book, written by a woman who experienced almost every form of child abuse, from abandonment and physical abuse, to extreme forms of emotional abuse. Indeed, the verbal degradation she endured assumed almost gigantic proportions because it occurred in the context of a multigenerational chain of family violence and addiction, as well as in the context of a small town. Hence her family’s problems became the object of vicious gossip and Ms. Miller was subject to ridicule and bullying, not only at home, but at school, the village store and almost everywhere she went in her community.
In this compelling account, Ms. Miller describes how she, a motherless child abandoned by her father, subsequently became subject to multiple forms of mistreatment, not only from her primary caretaker, but other relatives, some of whom were also abused as children or who suffered from an addiction or mental illness. She touches on areas of child abuse, such as emotional manipulation and exposure to adult sexuality and sexual depravity, which need to be recognized.
Ms. Miller does not spare the reader some of the heartbreaking details of her experiences, yet there is not a shred of self-pity in her book. Instead she describes her abusers in their full human complexity, their good sides as well as their bad sides, often showing compassion and understanding as to why these people, like her unforgettable Nana and adulterous Aunt Charlotte, sought to cope with life by taking advantage of and disregarding the basic needs of an innocent child.
Yet, despite Ms. Miller’s insights into the origins of her perpetrators’ abusiveness and self-destructiveness, she is more than honest about how these individual’s damaged almost every aspect of her being, thus propelling her into years of addiction and other self-destructive behavior.
This book is humbly and clearly written. There are no long psychological complicated explanations, just the facts as she remembers them and her reflections as an adult on a childhood that can only be described as pure torment.
It’s amazing that she survived her past, not only in the sense that she didn’t die physically, but in the sense that she overcame her addiction and the emotional blindness caused by years of trauma to the point where she could tell her story. Given the continuous nature of the traumas she endured and the fact she had to contend with not just one, but many, perpetrators, this is a monumental achievement. It’s also noteworthy that she’s grateful for what she did receive from some of her abusers, which has enabled her to survive.
Although there are scores of adult survivors of child abuse, there are few first person accounts of child abuse like this unique book. Many survivors remain in denial, addiction or other forms of escape, and are hence incapable of remembering their past, much less putting their past on paper in a coherent manner that can serve to enlighten others. But Ms. Miller has done so and her book, the result of decades of hard work and therapy and her own ongoing self-scrutiny, is a gift to us all.
*Some of Dr. Matsakis’ books include; “I Can’t Get Over It, Survivor Guilt, In Harm’s Way, Vietnam Wives, Trust after Trauma, Emotional Claustrophobia, Back from the Front and Rape Recovery Handbook. New Harbinger Publications, Inc. www.matsakis.com
To purchase the book go to: www.barnesnoble.com, & AMAZON or click the Find Out More Button
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