I spent a good deal of time working on a project before I wrote this post, because I was too red-hot mad to even write about it. It’s funny that Gifted Homeschoolers Forum just linked a post about adult bullying on their Facebook page – perfect timing!
So what is adult bullying? It’s bullying – by adults who should know better, directed towards other adults. School bullying brings to mind the kid stuffed into a locker or something equally hazardous: adult bullying can be much more subtle. Sometimes it’s even admired or encouraged, especially in an industry like sales where making a sale can be more important than anything else.
Today I experienced a particularly subtle form of adult bullying and I wanted to share it. Because I am not a quiet victim – and I refuse to be one.
What is a quiet victim? According to Psychology Today, victims of adult bullying often keep quiet. They lay low and hope the bully will pick another victim or leave them alone, and they don’t talk about their experiences. It’s a natural instinct to not provoke the beast, but it’s emotionally unhealthy. Better to talk about it and get support, even if the person you discuss it with has no power to change anything.
I find it interesting in a clinical and academic way when dealing with bullies – they’ve had years and years to perfect their techniques. Stuffing kids into a locker might have been the start, but they’re extremely accomplished now at making people doubt themselves or look foolish just by using words. The more accomplished bullies are adept at flaying: peeling the skin off of a person. Bullies use words instead of knives, but they hurt just as much or more.
Today, I expressed how I felt uncomfortable at our subdivision’s fall festival because a local mega-church staffed and ran the event. To clarify, our community has an HOA (lucky us!) that collects dues to pay for a myriad of things, including events. We even have an Activities Committee of volunteers who plan and staff the events. So when the younger two and I went to the festival, I was not expecting it to be run by this church. They handed out goodie bags for the kids, complete with church flyers and a few odds and ends, and they staffed the games and bounce house that our event usually has. It was uncomfortable for me, and I can’t image what it felt like for those of different faiths.
Let me emphasize this: a private, subdivision-only event, run by this church and their volunteer staff.
I spoke up on our local neighborhood Facebook group. It didn’t go well: my comments were deleted after a short discussion with one of the committee folks. Then it snowballed. And it ended with me being sporadically put on mute in the group so that my comments/replies/posts didn’t always post, while the admins subtly replied to things that didn’t make it through their filter so that I would know they read it. Boy does that sound complicated!
In essence, the admins and their tools quietly worked behind the scenes of the group to discredit me and make me look stupid, paranoid, and overly sensitive. Of course, I’m not privy to what the admins said or did, nor do I know exactly how they accomplished what they did. I do know they did it on purpose to mock me.
I have no patience for that kind of crap. I’m no longer in the group. I left, and it felt an awful lot like running.
I’ve known for a long time that our neighborhood was infested with a mean girl clique. I didn’t realize that it would manifest in active bullying, but I probably should have expected it. For whatever reason it seems like worse behavior than random internet bullying because these people know me – they recognize me. They know I’ll see them at community events, walking the trail, and at the pool. We’re neighbors! And that didn’t matter to them: they didn’t care.
I’ll admit, I’m fairly naive. I want to expect the best out of people, even if I cynically know I won’t get it. It took me a little longer than it should have to pick up on the bullying because we’re NEIGHBORS! I didn’t expect that.
Now that I’m in full cynical mode, I know that we’ll probably see some form of retribution from the HOA. Some minor violation about weeds or water guns (that one happened to another neighbor, makes more sense now!) Oh well. I can hope that the politics die out, and the bullies have more important things on their minds like regulating roof colors (happened to us!) We were already getting rusty razor blades and nails carefully placed on our front steps so it should be business as usual.
Why am I sharing this drama? It’s minor, right? It’s a droplet of irritation in a sea of more important pain. But, it’s also a reminder. A message. If we all stand up against the bullies, they’ll back down. If we all stand firm for what we know is right, the world would be a better place.
I am not a quiet victim. You shouldn’t be either.