Wednesday, May 1, 2013

When You are Bullied as an Adult

Recently I became involved in an incident where I was accused of doing something much worse than what I actually did. I realized that a certain person, who has a vendetta against me already, had set me up to look like I was guilty of doing things I didn't do. Since I was guilty of making one mistake, it didn't take much for people to believe I had committed all of those other things too. This person has been after me since I first met them, for reasons only they know, and has been unrelenting since that point. 
When they had their chance to take me down, they did, with speed and devastation, that is honestly, a little impressive. I was impressed at the depths to which this person went to, to try and hurt me. And it really did hurt. It hurt me deeply. I had a meeting with two people of staff, who reprimanded me, condemned me, called me a liar, entitled, an exaggerator, and a bully. This continued for over an hour, mentioning my actual mistake only in passing. I even choked up in the middle of the meeting but they did not stop their attack. It was devastating to me, and took several days to recover from. But after some time I began to think, less about me and my hurt feelings and more about what had been committed. These people had railed against me, unjustifiably, on the word of someone who has been on a campaign to ruin my reputation for a whole year. 
And this wasn't fair. 
I apologized, took my punishment, quit my job, and promised to never come back to that place. 
But this isn't fair. 
This person is going to get away with what they've put me through for about a year and will continue to do this to people for probably their entire life. Or, maybe not. I have scheduled an appointment with my dean, their boss, and the vice president of the school and also an ombudsman to talk about my options and the next course of action, of which there will be one. 
In situations like this it can be hard to navigate. When we are children we are taught not to bully and now a days there are so many anti-bullying messages going on the internet and television. But it doesn't stop after you turn 18, there are bullies in the workplace, in college, you could even be dating or even married to a bully. Being pushed around is not okay, being manipulated is not okay, being intimidated is not okay and no one should have that power over you. 
As adults we don't cry, we stuff things down or try to rationalize about what we are experiencing, or convince ourselves that we have to go through this to not cause waves (like I did), but it's more than that. This person is taking away your dignity, your sense of self, and your power and no one NO ONE should have that power over you. 
Stand up for yourself. You've got to. There's no way around it. But adults, unlike children, are capable of hurting you in ways that are much more detrimental so you have to be smart. What are your resources? Who has authority over this person? Who could you report to that will not make it back to them? How could you make sure that you won't be caught up in their vindictive drama? Do you have a record of their treatment? Document incidents that you could use in your favor. 
If you are constantly doing something for this person because you are intimidated by them, stop, you've got to stop. Avoid them, tell them you have other things to do, or better yet, tell them you are done being used and break it off. Don't apologize, don't make up an excuse, you don't owe that to them, and stand tall with your chin high and stare right into their eyes. You don't owe them anything, it's your decision to change your mind and they should respect that. But they probably won't, because bullies are people who lack respect.
Be consistent, you can't be firm with them once and never again. Like a child or a dog, bullies won't respect you if you don't stand your ground every time. Don't let them get away with things no matter how small, call them out on their bullshit and don't just take their shit. You don't need to stoop to their level but call them out on it, point out the flaws they wish so eagerly to bring out in you. 
This asshole should not have control over you, your life and your decisions. It's not your fault, people have their own fucked up reasons to do the things they do especially when they are cruel and senseless. People are cruel to people who have something in them they either want or don't like in themselves. Perhaps this person doesn't like your strength and wants you to be beneath them like everyone else or they won't feel important. You shouldn't have to devote any more energy to them and they need to be put in their place.
I wish you luck.

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