When I was a kid, one of my aunts lived with us to help my mum with domestic chores. Unfortunately, this aunt bullied me constantly. I am sure she didn’t mean to bully me, but it happened in the smallest ways. If I did something wrong, no matter how big/little, she would beat me and take away my food as punishment. If something happened in the house, and I tried to explain my stance she would shut me up.
That shutting up also happened in school, my teachers wouldn’t let me talk or defend myself in certain situations. While I wasn’t physically harmed, the effect of this constant intimidation followed me into adulthood. I could never speak up for myself, and I became a people pleaser. What made me remember my childhood bullying is because a friend of mine is currently being bullied, and when she told me I was quick to say, “you are not helpless, you can stop this.”
My friend’s issue reminded me of all the times I didn’t and couldn’t speak up for myself in my adult years, intimated by the little things of life. It reminded me of being in office meetings, where even though I had good ideas I was always afraid of speaking up. I would rather give my idea to someone to present than say it myself.
There are so many women who are being bullied in personal and professional spaces. There are people (men and women) that once they smell a flicker of fear and intimidation in you, they wouldn’t stop until you crumble. So, how do you push back on bullies?
The first step is to recognise when someone is bullying you. It happens in little ways, but once you feel intimated in a regular situation, you feel fear with that person, that’s your sign.
Speak to a trusted friend
Because bullying can happen in everyday life, sometimes you think you are crazy/overreacting. Share your experiences with a friend. It was one of my friends who made me realize how intimidated I am and helped me through the process of speaking up for myself. Find a trusted person to speak with.
Plug the hole immediately
Bullies are empowered when you allow them to get away with it. They grow on your silence and fear. Ask yourself why you are afraid of speaking up, what will be the repercussions for you? Is that worth you tolerating the situation?
You are not helpless
That is one of the mantras I used to recite to myself when I am being bullied. There are a ton of people out there to help you. Because once you believe you are not helpless you do not crumble under the bullying, you find the strength to fight back
P.S: Aren’t we all being bullied by the coronavirus? Please stay safe everyone!