You don’t have to throw a punch or slap a person to be considered a bully.
You know that little “invisibility game” wherein children deliberately ignore and pretend to not notice the other kid/s that they do not like?
That could hurt more than the bruises and the wounds.
In a world where we need each other in order to survive, to choose to deliberately disregard or not acknowledge the presence of another is a demonstration of an intent to negate his/her being. By ignoring someone, you are giving him/her the message that he/she doesn’t matter and that he/she is not worthy of your time. Unheard and unseen, his/her existence loses its importance, he/she becomes a “non-entity” 1.
For the bullied who is unseen, the toll of his/her being a non-entity could be just as grave than the physical injuries, sometimes even more so. He/she might start to see his/her existence as entirely separate from the world. For how can you truly live when noone can see and acknowledge that you are really living?
The dangers of this lack or refusal to give attention to the unseen bullied child doesn’t only apply to the bully but also for the bystanders as well. For the unseen child who have sought help but may not have been taken seriously, he/she might question his/her perception of the situation. For when you are in pain and nobody seems to pay attention, how can you be sure that you really are suffering? That the pain that you are feeling is indeed a justifiable response to what you’re going through? How can you be sure that you indeed did nothing wrong? That sometimes, people can just hurt you for reasons that are beyond your control or your doing. With nobody to tell the child otherwise, he/she might start to believe these misconceptions and see him/herself as unworthy, unimportant for the world to listen to, and deserving of the way he/she was treated.
It is not easy to stand up to a bully and it’s okay to be afraid. We all know the difference of what is right from wrong and are capable of making our own decisions, but often, due to our own fears, we opt to choose the easy way out. Our desire for self-preservation is understandable although it doesn’t make things right. However, if you find yourself too afraid to speak up, then maybe, you can listen and take the time to see the unseen child/person.
1 Carandang, M.L., Aguilar, M.T., & De Asis, M.B. (2014). Back to Basics: The Seven Basic Psychological Needs