Barack Obama said and I quote. “Each of us deserves the freedom to pursue our own version of happiness. No one deserves to be bullied”. Our greatest assets as human beings lies in the strength of our self-belief and in the unyielding power of our human dignity. That unequivocal belief in our rights to live in life’s full pursuit of happiness and in the freedom to be who we want to be. These sacred values are under attack from those who seek to make us less than who we are born to be. These attackers are bullies! Often when we think of bullying, we imagine a freckled stubborn kid picking on a simple kid in a school but it’s way more than that. Bullies exist everywhere; at school, at home and even at work. They are everywhere!

Bullying is the repeated and habitual use of threats, force or coercion to intimidate, abuse or dominate others. While the issue of bullying in schools among students & cyber bullying are prevalent and much talked about, it is not often discussed in terms of bullying from friends, spouses and in the work place. The effect on the mindset of the victim is deep, crippling and sometimes lasting. Imagine the pain of victims of bullying in the Workplace or in the home environment. Office superiors who should serve as role models or mentors, aggressively attacking and denigrating co-workers or staff in the name of giving appraisals. The fear of loss of income by the victims in the workplace and the ‘silence’ of the bystanders, further empowers the bully to continue to perpetuate the callous acts of denigration and emboldens a culture of cruelty, malice and strife!

Stories have been shared of performance reviews sessions where bullying and the dignity and self-esteem of the worker is consistently attacked in the name of giving feedback. Learned helplessness takes over as members of staff expect the cruel and harsh treatment as a norm and status quo. Imagine that constant assault on the mind and on the will every day, every week, every month! It is most definitely a recipe for mental illness! The effects of bullying which include depression, low self-esteem, anxiety attacks, and even suicide have far reaching effects on the victims and the entire community. WHO estimates that globally, there are 800,000 suicides every year being the second leading cause of death amongst 15 to 29 year olds. In the UK alone, half of all suicides by young people is as a result of bullying. Can you just imagine that! In relationships and marriages, bullying from both genders exists and is a leading cause of mental illness in relationships. While men may be physical, women are more verbal in bullying and emotional abuse. Some signs that you are engaged to a bully include; name calling (often vulgar), taunting, verbal and physical aggression, controlling behaviors and putting down in front of others.

The truth about the bullies themselves is that while some are narcissist and low in emotional Intelligence, many others have very low self-esteem and feel the need to dominate others to be able to feel better about themselves. If only they can acknowledge their limitations and seek help, they can actually live in harmony with others. For victims, we can prevent and end bullying by understanding the pattern of the bully and devising counter measures. Being firm and assertive in a consistent manner ensures that the bully backs down from the acts. In addition, bystanders speaking out against bullying while it is happening as well as creating schools and workplace policies against bullying will definitely go a long way to help curtail such occurrences. So today and every day, stand up to bullies and against bullying wherever they are; at home, at school and even in the work place. No one has the right to demean you or make you less than who you are created to be because you are exceptional!

Be Free!!

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