BULLYING IN ADULTHOOD

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Many people often associate bullying with physical abuse. However, in actual fact, bullying takes many forms. We usually link it to children and young adolescents in the schoolyard, but it actually occurs all around us between colleagues, spouses, friends, parents, siblings, neighbours and so on. Bullying can be psychological, sexual, physical and mental. In adults especially, it can go undetected because victims are too apprehensive to speak up, and in some cases, they don’t even realise that they’re being bullied, as they’ll assume that this type of behaviour towards them is what they should expect from the relationship.

Bullying at work is the least noticeable, as the victim could be under the impression that, as the subordinate, they must endure any type of behaviour, especially from higher authority. This is far from the truth. Cordiality, respect and understanding should always be practised, whatever your position may be. It’s not okay to be pushed around, yelled at and ignored. Any working demands placed on an employee should be done with decorum and professionalism.

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Now, as most married or cohabiting couples can confirm, compromise and leeway are an important factor for any successful marriage, but a spouse must never accept any form of bullying from the other just to keep the peace. There will always be a more dominant partner in every relationship, but guiding, coaxing and discussing are a healthy dynamic to any relationship. But being forced to do things or take decisions against one’s will is an entirely different matter. A relationship between two people who are committed to each other should be symbiotic; each partner gives and takes equally. It’s not okay to boss your family about to do your bidding, however you want, whenever you want. If they don’t comply, you’ve no right to make their life a living hell; that’s exactly what bullying is. It’s not okay to be the only voice being heard and to make all the decisions, while all others are ignored or overridden. That is bullying.

Do you know that bullying can also take place during consensual sex? The victim can be forced to participate in a sexual act that they’re not comfortable with, and if the victim doesn’t submit, the perpetrator will exert repercussions of some sort. Bullying of this sort will eventually lead to the dominant partner becoming more controlling during intimate moments, which could eventually lead to rape. Very few victims come forward about this because of the blurred lines and shame that surrounds the topic.

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Undetected bullying can also happen during social gatherings between friends and acquaintances. Merciless teasing, rough jokes and unreasonable dares can be directed towards the people who are timid, quiet and malleable. They’re the perfect pushovers for their peers to turn into victims, maybe even unknowingly. In cases such as this, the bullies will be covering their acts under the guise of integration and friendship. The victim will try to ignore the hurt, humiliation and the feeling of helplessness as they try to convince themselves that what’s being done to them is normal, and must be accepted and endured so that they can fit in and be accepted by the group.

Bullying, in all shapes and forms, will definitely lead to more horrendous things, such as physical or psychological abuse. Depression, suicide tendencies and substance abuse could be a direct result of this if victims aren’t detected and given help and support. It’s really important that if you think any form of bullying is taking place or if you’re at the receiving end of this bullying, please speak up and have the courage to bring it out in the open, so that it can be tackled and resolved before things get out of hand. Don’t be afraid to confide in a trusted person. There is help out there, both personal and professional. All you have to do is reach out and free yourself from your prison. Take control of the situation before it takes control of you.

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