It may shock you to learn that I am the most dangerous person you know. (I am guessing that if you have ever met me in real life you are now looking at that sentence and thinking "but you are kind, gentle, you care for and about your friends??? Thank worst thing you do is argue people into the ground when you don't agree with them. Oh - and you can be extremely stubborn". This is true. But I am still dangerous.)
Have you ever asked yourself why I am so kind and caring??? No - it isn't because I am trying to get on your good side and gain your trust before I commit some terrible crime against you. In fact - the exact opposite is genuinely the case. I am extremely protective of my friends. Anyone upsets any of my friends they also end up with an upset Ineke. An upset Ineke is not very friendly - especially when dealing with someone who has upset her friends.
Don't worry - I am not physically violent (although I think I could give some of my friends who are into Martial Arts a run for their money if I put my mind to it) nor am I verbally abusive. The Lifeform who has upset my friend will be made aware of their error as they are spoken to in a calm manner. Failure to heed the warning will result in them being ignored completely.
So - why did I say I am dangerous??? Well, if I treated people who I don't like or agree with in the same way I have been treated by people at school and in my last job I would be looking at a potential prison sentence.
I am not going to tell you exactly what form the physical bullying I was subjected to at school took (let's just say - if it had happened anywhere else I think the bullies in question would have been looking at a charge of Attempted Murder in one instance). What I want to talk about is the effects bullying still has on me today.
Well, you already know about one of them. If I consider you a friend you are cared for and about (including worried about).
Another (not so nice) effect is the time it takes me to trust someone. I am not joking when I say it has been known to take literally years for me to trust people
A slightly odd effect is - the more threatening you look when I first meet you the more chance you have of me talking to you uninvited. However, the more friendly you look (unless we are in the same room as an existing friend of mine) the less chance you have of me speaking to you uninvited. (Of course, if I know you from Social Media before we meet in real life your ears may be talked off anyway.)
Bullying can happen directly and intentionally (as my experience at school testify) as well as indirectly and unintentionally (as some of my experiences at my last job testify).
Allow me to attempt to explain what I mean by "indirectly and unintentionally". On several occasions in my last job I was actually what could euphemistically be called "Collateral Damage" - as in - I wasn't the intended target of the bullying but I was still hit by the resulting "shrapnel" when the actual target couldn't get hold of my boss. In a couple of instances I was actually in the same position as the intended target but I couldn't say anything to them because that would have meant me losing my job.
(By the way - the "unintentional indirect bullying" doled out to me by my last boss was concurrent with the direct intentional bullying.)
Two extremely vivid examples of the "unintentional indirect bullying" were as follows (and they put me off the idea of ever working in an office again);
The less serious of the two was being informed that "if you work for a liar and a thief that makes you one as well". What the person who said that to me didn't know was he and I were both waiting to be paid (similar timescale vastly different sums of money).
The second (and much more serious) one was when a very serious allegation was made about my then employer which had the incident occured in this country - would have resulted in me going to the nearest Police station to report my employer.
Bullying comes in many forms and has long lasting consequences for the survivors. These consequences can range from death (either as a result of being killed by someone else or suicide), to hating yourself, to not trusting anyone, to (and - yes - I have done this) making someone you met years after you left the situation where you were bullied pay for something one of the bullies did to you as a result of the "new" person triggering the same feelings without realising what they did.
Well-meaning people give all sorts of advise on what to do when you are being bullied. Some of it works - some of it is actually downright dangerous. (Unfortunately for me - telling a teacher wasn't exactly an option for me. Partly because I felt that some of my teachers were also bullying me in one way or another - also partly because the one teacher who I can categorically state was never involved in the bullying was not only the form tutor of one of the "attempted murder" bullies but he was also friends (and - as far as I know - still is) with the teacher who I considered to be my second biggest tormentor on the staff of that school - after the Maths Teacher from Hell.
I did end up with a rather strange (and a certain Clinical Psychologist friend of mine might also call it "unhealthy") coping mechanism to deal with the bullying. I ended up pretending it wasn't happening to me. That took me quite some time to master (both at school and in my last job). However, the ironic thing is - that is exactly what is helping me cope with the chemo. Of course I know it is happening to me - having a cannula almost drilled into a vein in your hand every week isn't exactly painless after all. But convincing myself that I am actually at a concert involving some of my favourite singers and musicians whilst the chemo is going in actually helps me to enjoy the experience. All I need is my mobile phone and my earphones. (The only thing which would be better is if my favourite female singer was in the Chemo Suite with me giving me a personal concert!!! Oh well - I can daydream, can't I???)
Ironically, the one piece of advice which nobody gave me but actually works for me is - get creative. In my case, Creative Writing has helped me a lot. I can daydream about different scenarios. One from my schooldays involves a Science Lab full of Bunsen Burners on full blast and a window-opening pole used as a skewer (I will leave it to your imagination as to what I would use the skewer to cook. A clue - a couple of them have already been mentioned.). Please note - I did not live out that particular daydream.
Bullying and other forms of abuse and terrorism are serious crimes with longlasting consequences for the victims. We need to look at making the laws on such crimes much tougher. I am not usually in favour of Capital Punishment but if you make someone's life so miserable they no longer think it is in their interest to continue living - you should be subjected to the exact same treatment. And if you kill someone as a direct result of bullying them you should be given the same treatment.
I know that is in direct contradiction to my Christian beliefs but - when your life has been made as miserable as mine has (to the point where I seriously considered suicide on at least two occasions) the idea of "turn the other cheek" just sounds like an invitation for the bullies to finish the job off for you once and for all.
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