What Is Bullying And How To Deal With The Long-Term Consequences

Last updated on : November 11 2020

Young kid wrapped in fragile tape


In this article, we take a critical look at what bullying is, the long term consequences for the victim, and what you can do today to deal with any symptoms you may have carried into adult life. 

In the resources section, we provide links to reputable articles on what to do if you or your child is currently a victim of bullying. 

Bullying Defined

Bullying involves social domination and power-plays through unwanted and repeated aggressive behavior by the bully. 

A bully uses physical strength, access to information, or popularity to control or harm their victims by making threats, spreading rumors, attacking physically or verbally, or excluding the victim from a group or activity. Often this behavior is repeated more than once. 

Today, bullying occurs both in-person and online through cyberbullying. 

Bullying usually occurs between school-aged children. However, the consequences can last for many years. It can increase feelings of loneliness, shame, powerlessness, and low self-esteem

Types Of Bullying

From the above, we can see that a bully can choose to say or write harmful things (usually online through cyberbullying) or attack physically. These types are verbal and physical bullying.

A third type of bullying, social or relational bullying, involves hurting the victim's relationships or reputation. This type of bullying involves spreading rumors, leaving someone out of a group on purpose, or embarrassing them in public.  

What Is Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying takes place over digital devices like mobile phones or computers. 

Bullies carry out their attacks through email, text messages, social media, gaming, chat forums, blog post comments, or any other places online interaction occurs. 

It usually involves posting malicious or harmful content designed to cause humiliation or embarrassment for others and includes internet trolling.

What Are The Effects Of Bullying On The Victim

Victims of bullies often experience negative physical, social, emotional, academic, and mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. 

These symptoms include feeling sad and lonely, self-isolation, loss of interest in healthy activities, and adverse changes in sleep and eating habits. They can also lead to health complaints and decreased academic performance, truancy, or dropping out of school entirely.

Unfortunately, these effects can persist into adulthood. 

What To Do If You Are Suffering The Long-Term Consequences Of Bullying

If you were a victim of bullying as a child, you might battle with depression, anxiety, heightened stress, and withdrawal, today. 

You need to learn to love yourself again, and this can take time. The principles of self-love will help you to learn how to celebrate what makes you different.

But, more specifically, try the following ten self-care steps to help you recover from the long term effects of bullying. 

1. Acknowledge The Bullying

Many victims of bullying tend to minimize it, dismiss it, or pretend it never happened. They may have feelings of guilt and think that the bullying would never have happened if they had acted differently.

Children may be told not to be so sensitive by parents when bullied during childhood, making them feel the bullying is their fault. 

The only way to start healing is to acknowledge what happened and accept that it was not your fault, and you shouldn't be beating yourself up for it. 

The psychology writer at best essay writing service suggests to be kind and gentle with yourself and understand that you might still be experiencing the consequences of bullying if you never acknowledged it.

2. Find A Way To Express Your Emotions

Bullying does not just affect you mentally but physically too. Bottling up emotions can often result in health issues.

Victims of bullying may suffer from various health issues, including headaches, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, and anxiety issues. 

Remind yourself that what you're feeling is not who you are.

Cry, tackle a punching bag, push weights, and allow your body to do whatever it needs to express the feelings of anger, shame, or despair. 

Journaling and practices like meditation can help process your feelings, but there is something cathartic about physically expressing them. 

Don't think that you can physically expel your emotions once. You will probably need to keep expressing them as your subconscious mind brings issues to the surface.

3. Learn To Control What You Can

If you are a victim of bullying, you probably live with feelings of powerlessness. 

When you don't stand up to a bully, your self-confidence takes a severe knock. You run the risk of perpetually feeling and living like a victim. And you will battle with every aspect of your life because you think you have no control. 

You need to realize that while you had no control over what happened to you in the past, you do have control over your reactions today. And this means you can leave your victim's mentality behind by adopting a more positive attitude.  

You can live as a victim all your life, or you can choose to break out of a victim mentality and regain control. 

In your life today, you do have control if you choose to use it, and you can exercise this control to bring about positive change - some of this effort involves living in the present and recognizing your worth.

4. Live In The Present

If you obsess about what happened to you in the past, dwell on it frequently, then you won't move on. 

It is better to remind yourself that the bullying is in the past and that you are now safe and no longer have to experience the pain. You can't allow the past to consume all your time and energy. 

Instead of focusing on the past and your pain, you have to learn to live in the present. A way to do this is through mindfulness. 

Mindfulness is a practice designed to help you live in the present. This therapeutic technique is a mental state you achieve by focusing on the present moment while calmly accepting your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. 

5. Recognize Your Worth

Bullying makes people lose their confidence and believe they have no value. They have difficulty separating what they know to be right about themselves from the lies. 

When you are a victim of bullying, you tend to become insecure about parts of yourself. Repetitive bullying can damage your ability to view yourself as a capable and useful human being. 

Focusing on your strengths and the positive aspects of you can help you to reject the lies. Think about what you are good at, what people like about you, and what you like about yourself. 

Letting go of the lies involves changing your thought processes. It can be hard to believe that you are worthy of love. But if you choose to love yourself, you will discover new depths of strength and courage. 

6. Find Others To Help You

If you have experienced bullying, you may have difficulty with relationships and battle to trust others. However, withdrawing and isolating yourself means you have to deal with the consequences of being bullied all on your own.  

A large part of your recovery is likely to depend on having the loving support of family and friends. So, try finding someone close to you that you trust to talk about your experiences.

Try to find a support group in your area if you don't have anyone you feel you can talk to about the issue. If you can't find a local one, you may benefit from joining an online support group. 

When you speak out about being bullied, you are likely to find that many others have been affected by bullying. And you can help one another to heal. 

7. Focus On Personal Growth

Victims of bullying often make "safe" choices because of their fears and insecurities. When you only make choices that do not cause discomfort, you limit your potential and restrict your growth. 

Identify areas where you need to grow and decide that you will move outside of your comfort zones

Do you need to become more assertive? Do you need to deal with your anger? Is there anything you want to do but have avoided because you're afraid? 

Perhaps you decide to funnel your anger into competing in the field of business, sports, gaming, or education. Maybe you decide you want to express yourself creatively. 

Take all actions that will help you regain your lost confidence and trust in yourself and your abilities.

8. Give Yourself A Little Extra Care

When you're a victim of bullying, your self-esteem is low. Low self-esteem can make you neglect your physical appearance because you don't think you're worth the effort.

Physical exercise can help to restore your energy and enthusiasm for life. Walking, dancing, cycling, or any other activity can strengthen you, improve your health, and build your confidence. 

If you have resorted to unhealthy habits as a way of coping, part of the healing process will be to let go of them. To let go of unhealthy habits, you may need to change how you eat, drink, sleep, and more. 

Your outward appearance is likely to start reflecting your mental and emotional healing. When you're living a healthy lifestyle and caring properly for yourself, it will be easier to leave your past behind and feel enthusiastic about the future.  

9. Find Closure

The bullying you experienced does not define you, but it can leave some profound scars. You need to be able to acknowledge it, put it in the past, and move forward. 

Some victims find that writing a letter to the bully (but not sending it) can help. They put on paper all the anguish they experienced so they can get closure. 

Recovery is not a quick process, especially for those still suffering long after the bullying occurred. You may have several wrong perceptions and bad habits to break.  

Remember to celebrate your progress no matter how small the changes may be and give yourself the time and space you need to heal. One day you will look in the mirror and realize that you have changed and ready to move on. 

10. Lastly, Seek Out Trauma Support

If bullying you experienced as a child is still affecting you as an adult, and you're unable to deal with it alone, then talking to a counselor can help.

A counselor can help you process and make sense of what happened to you - by helping you learn how to feel good about yourself and regain your self-confidence. And to help you deal with any unhealthy coping mechanisms you may have developed. 

In these therapy sessions, a counselor may use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and role-playing to help with depression, anger, and other emotions due to being bullied. 

For example, you may have the opportunity to practice and improve how you interact in social situations through role-playing with the therapist. 


My Child Is Being Bullied - What Should I Do? 

I Am The Victim Of A Bully - What Should I do?

I'm In A Toxic Relationship - What Should I Do?


kid pointing a finger like a bully

If you're struggling with bullying, realize that you can thrive and be prosperous and healthy again through hard work and determination. 

You can prevent a victim's mentality from determining how you live your life if you do the internal work to foster your self-love. Starting to love yourself again after bullying can give you the courage to live more boldly than before and reclaim your power.

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