Article by: Beverly Crane on MAY 27, 2016
There has been much discussion of bullying lately, even before it began to erupt on the news every day. But now it is a public spectacle that only the most committed ostrich can avoid. Perhaps our culture is finally waking up to the tremendous damage bullies inflict on their targets, and to a society that has not yet figured out quite what to do about it. People still feel the effects of childhood bullying even after 50 or 60 years, and being bullied as an adult can be equally as devastating.
Society recognizes the danger of physical abuse. We have laws that will send people to prison for agressive physical acts directed at other people. However, we are only beginning to recognize emotional abuse as equally damaging if not more so. Demeaning people, calling them names, especially names with deeply negative connotations (such as whore, pervert, stupid, incompetent, crooked, lazy, crazy), or threatening them with bodily harm, can have long lasting psychological consequences, especially in children. If this abuse is done in public, as in bullying, the damage is even greater.
Bullying is about power. Power is about energy. Bullying is emotional abuse specifically designed to steal energy from the abused in order to increase personal power.
The purpose of all abuse is to make people feel guilty, unworthy and/or powerless, thus shaking loose their self-esteem, self-respect and self-confidence. Once this vital self-defining energy is called into question, the abuser can seize and claim it for his/her own. Consequently, physical, emotional and energetic abuse are all forms of energy stealing.
One of the most effective ways to steal energy is to make others afraid. Someone who is afraid is always paying attention to the source of the fear, since one must always be alert and attentive in hopes of preventing further harm.
Making fun of people, exposing their weaknesses or private information, calling them names and ridiculing them in public are all strategies to elicit fear and garner attention. Where you put your attention is where your energy is directed. When we are afraid it is easy to give energy away in the hope that then we will be left alone. Unfortunately, when we do this, we are playing right into the hands of the bully.
Unlike many other forms of energy stealing, bullying is an overt aggressive act that first throws the victim off balance and loosens personal energy so that it is easier to grab. Think of a purse snatcher bumping a victim in order to loosen her grasp and make the purse easier to take.
In bullying the aggressive acts are name calling, swearing, taunting, threatening dire consequences or insulting or disrespectful behavior towards the victim. These behaviors are designed to pry away a person’s self-respect and sense of worth by generating negative feelings of guilt, shame and/or self-loathing. This loosened energy is then appropriated by the abuser, giving him or her additional confidence and power. This added energy and the bully’s ability to acquire it whenever needed can lead to an almost addictive high which then causes increasing use of these tactics to overcome feelings of inadequacy, fear, depression or powerlessness whenever they arise.
If one bullies in front of large audiences, the bully draws attention of many others besides the person being bullied. These overtly aggressive acts create tension and drama that draw people in much like a soap opera or a public execution. You know its horrible but it’s hard to look away. The bully can then feed on the extra attention of the crowd as well as that of the victim.
Why do bullies need so much energy? People who steal energy are never satisfied because energy acquired from stealing can always be stolen away again. Energy gained this way is never secure. Under these conditions they can never have too much because their hold on it seems so fragile.
Energy stealing can become addictive, and abuse is the most addictive form of energy stealing. When a victim is thrown off balance by an aggressive act, the amount of potential energy available for capture is much greater than in non-aggressive energy stealing. This unusually large intake of energy supplies a much greater jolt than other kinds of energy stealing, and produces feelings of euphoria and self-importance. It can be very difficult for someone to voluntarily get off this horse once he/she has gotten on.
Unlike other kinds of abuse where abusers often do not premeditate harm, (physical abuse from anger or alcohol), or are not usually conscious of the effect of their actions (energetic abuse), the bully knows exactly what he is doing and consciously intends to be as hurtful as possible.
Abuse of all kinds says far more about the abuser than about the abused. By engaging in bullying the abuser is advertising his or her own deep emotional needs and insecurity. Do not allow the bully to shake your confidence and sense of self. Instead regard the bully with compassion and understanding while at the same time taking whatever measures necessary to avoid injury to yourself and any others that might also be at risk, even if it involves legal proceedings. We don’t yet have concrete laws to address bullying, but we will soon.
The only way to deal with a bully is to refuse to be afraid, refuse to pay attention and refuse to watch the show. We can also do our part to educate people as to the damaging nature of bullying. We need to create a clear understanding of what bullying is, specific guidelines for what is or is not abuse, and concrete laws that treat emotional abuse the same as physical abuse.