I’ve been thinking about the topic of bullying for a while now since it came to a head in my life this past month. I hadn’t actually thought about the bullying I had been experiencing until I began reading more articles and realized that I had been a textbook case victim of bullies since I was child. As a young child, I didn’t have the comprehension to understand what was happening, I just knew it hurt and made me cry. But if I had learned some basic principles as a teenager or young adult, been told of my worth and that I deserved respect, I may have been spared from a lot of grief.

My experience with bullies has been lifelong, and it stops NOW. I’ve always been “the nice girl”, the “quiet shy one”, and rarely spoke up for myself. If you are going through what feels like an uncomfortable situation and think you may be being bullied – whether at school, work or home, I want to encourage you to break the cycle and speak out. No one deserves to be a victim-and you’re not a doormat!

Typical or Aggressive Bullying:
*Repeated aggressive physical behavior (Pushing, kicking, slapping, shoving, punching, pinching, etc.) directed at another to take away one’s power and gain control over another.

Verbal Bullying:
*Using negative words as insults, unwanted teasing, putdowns, name-calling, and belittling others for the way they look, act, or behave to take away their power. This unfortunately happens to many special needs children.

Relational or Emotional Bullying:
*This type tends to begin slowly and begins to escalate as a type of manipulation over another person, and increases over time to a controlling and aggressive type of behavior, or can go the opposite direction and the victim may be suddenly ignored, excluded and intimidated by a person(s) or group. This happens in every area of life; home, school, relationships and the workplace, and may be harder to identify.

Sexual Bullying:
*This type of behavior may start with small things like winks or gestures, and then advance to name calling (hottie, slut, tramp, whore etc.), vulgar and crude gestures, unwanted touching, coarse comments on a girl’s looks or sexual development, and even sexting. Children who are victims of pedophiles may be subjected to the their sick manipulation and control as they are being abused. Kids at school can be brutally cruel, and name calling can destroy reputations and push young people over the edge.

Cyber Bullying:
*The age of the internet and cell phones have given bullies a whole new platform for attacking their victims without even having to look at them. Cell phones can receive threats or vulgar photos, images may be posted online for the world to see, and more people are being affected by the different tactics of bullies in this realm, and it can happen to anyone at anytime.

I became a nurse in my late 30’s, and I have loved being a nurse since the beginning. I tend to have a quiet voice, a calm and easygoing spirit, and I was able to connect with my patient population on a wonderfully intimate and helpful level…because they knew that I REALLY cared about them and wanted to help them in anyway I could. What I didn’t know back then was that quiet, nice people get shafted a lot, typically because we don’t like to make waves or like confrontation. Big mistake.

After being at the hospital I’d worked at for 14 wonderful years, a new nurse manager was hired in from another hospital, and she was a newer kind of bully, the kind who plasters a mask over their real face, and leads you to believe that you can trust them and confide in them. Then when your back is turned and you least expect it, the knife is plunged in – and you don’t know what hit you until you turn around to face a stranger you didn’t actually know. This was the beginning of a difficult life lesson for me about human nature and manipulative and evil people, and was the end of my trust in people.

My last experience in dealing with bullies transpired while working for a group of surgeons. It started out not long after I was hired, but I didn’t realize the real damage it had done until I left. No how positive or kind I was, it was like walking around landmines everyday. I have actually found that I have many symptoms similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, stemming from nearly 3 years of dealing with dishonest, evil people and toxic work environments and the craziness in my personal life. I drew the short straw, and was assigned to work with the meanest surgeon in the practice. He had this look of something like constipation on his face all the time, and he could never make his mind up-and when he did he would change it 3 more times. His insults and harsh attitude were expected, and he was a cruel and nasty person when I had to call critical test results or requests from patients to him that he didn’t like. He made me so uncomfortable with his behavior that I began to feel physically ill daily and as though I would hurl before I walked in the door each day at work, and headaches began coming daily. My blood pressure was through the roof at the end of a day. I knew I could no longer deal with him after a phone conversation with him one Friday afternoon. After the brief conversation with him where he had yelled at me again…I stated that I wanted to castrate him and forcefully place his crowned jewels down his throat with no sedation. I was done in.

If I had it to do again, I realize now that if I had kept a work journal and documented every single thing that had happened at my jobs, all the things that were said to me, lies that were told to or about me, insults and names hurled at me, and if I’d had a complete and thorough collection of documentation with dates, times, and examples that painted a vivid picture of what had been occurring, both outcomes would have been much better and most likely resolved in my favor. But I had a misguided sense of trust, and I now I’m wise enough to have little to no trust in people.

If you are dealing with anything like what I’ve described, you may want to begin documenting about each work day when something occurs that you suspect is a form of bullying (including sexual harassment or any type of abuse), including what was said and by who, any actions that took place, date and times, and anyone who may have been present. After awhile you may be surprised at the collection of documentation you will have. If you choose to take action, your odds of winning a case against your bully will multiply greatly with excellent documentation. Think WORD PICTURES. Begin your quest to stop the bullying by speaking with your immediate manager (unless they are the bully), and if you don’t get satisfaction with them, go up the chain of command until you do get it.

When you continually are living or working in a toxic environment, it will eventually begin to affect you emotionally, physically and mentally. You could be at risk of developing depression or anxiety issues, or even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder if it’s severe enough. Some symptoms of PTSD include: anxiety, nightmares, avoidance of others, loss of memory, feelings of detachment or numbness, insomnia, anger and/or outbursts, irritability, difficulty concentrating, depression, and even drug or alcohol addiction. PTSD usually manifests after a traumatic event such as negative war experience, being raped, being mugged or robbed, severe physical harm (including domestic violence), or any traumatic event that triggers the above symptoms, and may be suspected if symptoms lasted longer than a few months. It is imperative that you get treatment right away and moved into a more positive and stable environment where you can heal. Nothing is worth losing yourself or dying for.

When all is said and done, at the end of the day you must be happy with your decisions, your job (or lack of one), and have peace with the outcome. You may not win every battle, but you may win the war. I’m telling you from experience, DON’T LIVE A LIFE OF REGRETS! If things go your way – celebrate! You’ve achieved a victory that will help pave a more positive path for the next generation that comes along! If you don’t prevail, then you have an experience that will give you the knowledge that you did what was right, you stood up for your integrity as a human being – and that’s something to be proud about. Never be a doormat for anyone.

Above all, live your life in a way that you will have no regrets, and in such a way that when you look back at your life at the end – you will be filled with the peace that passes understanding that you made a difference in the world and gave it your all. I challenge you to examine your life, if you’re happy, and ask yourself if there are things going on that need to stop. Never have to regret letting someone bully you or take your power away. Stand up for yourself, respectfully tell them you don’t appreciate their actions, nor will no longer accept those actions, and if they refuse to change and the system supports them, move on; if they support you-stay and work it out. Your inner beauty, your soul, and your heart are not worth the damage that evil people can cause. Be true to yourself, and live with no regrets!