- to frighten, hurt, or threaten (a smaller or weaker person); to act like a bully towards someone.
- to cause (someone) to do something by making threats or insults or by using force.
This is how the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “bully.” While certainly an accurate definition, the dictionary lacks one key component required to truly drive home the concept (and serious consequences) of bullying: the human aspect. To define “bully” on paper is one thing, but to witness or experience it in real life is something else entirely.
As a licensed online therapist, I have had the opportunity to work with several clients who have been victimized by bullying. The consequences and challenges these victims face range from depression to suicide and everything in between. In honor of Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, I wanted to bring some attention to the subject. It’s time that persecutors were made aware of the incredible harm their actions cause, and it’s time that those who have been victims of bullying realize that they are not alone.
Bullying: A Real-Life Example
Some of you know that I am an alumna (and die-hard fan) of the University of Michigan. I recently returned to campus to watch the game between my alma mater and Michigan State. As many of you are probably aware, Michigan lost the game as a result of a simple, innocent mistake made by their punter, Blake O’Neill. What you may not be aware of, however, is the bullying that Blake O’Neill immediately became subjected to as a result of his mistake.
Angry fans let loose on social media. Tweets directed to Blake O’Neill contained one awful message after another. “How does it feel to have a brick for hands????” asked one. “Time to play GTA and pretend every person I hit with a car is Blake O’Neill,” said another (Source: Inquisitr). Some individuals even conveyed death threats or encouraged O’Neill to commit suicide.
This young man became the subject of intense, awful bullying – all because of a simple mistake. What these angry fans failed to acknowledge is that O’Neill is a young man – a human being – and we all make mistakes sometimes. Not only that, but he has survived cancer and multiple other challenges in his life so far. The fact that he should be subjected to such hateful messages all because of a simple mistake absolutely sickens me.
You Don’t Have To Face These Challenges Alone
Unfortunately, O’Neill only provides one public example of a phenomenon that occurs over and over again, every single day. Children, teens, and adults alike are constantly subjected to bullying. To any of you who have been (or are currently being) victimized by bullies, I encourage you to seek help from a trusted friend, guardian, or licensed online counselor. I would be honored to help you overcome these challenges. Together, I believe we can work towards a happier, more confident future free from this type of harassment. If you think I may be a good fit, please contact me to schedule your private online therapy session. I truly look forward to talking with you.
Samantha M. Ruth, Transformational Psychologist
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