How to Recognize Bullying and Get Help

Bullying can be incredibly painful, and its negative impact can last for years to come. But you don’t have to remain trapped by a bully, and there are things you can do to stop their painful cycle of controlling and harmful behavior.

If you recognize you’re being bullied, there are always people who care that want to help you grow and heal after bullying.

What Is Bullying?

Bullying is more than anger. People can be angry without being cruel or deliberately harming others. Bullying isn’t fighting with a friend, although unkind things may be said during a particularly tense disagreement. If talking through a disagreement ended the tension between you, then you weren’t being bullied.

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior.

Think about the people in your life.

  • Is anyone aggressive with you? Do you feel forced to do anything you don’t want to do, or to put up with them causing you pain and discomfort?
  • Do you feel like they are stronger, more powerful, or more influential than you in a way that disappointing or saying no to them scares you?
  • Do they seem to enjoy being cruel to you?
  • Does their unkind behavior persist, even after you’ve told them you were hurt and wanted it to stop?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, you are being bullied. But things are not hopeless. There is always hope to break free from painful relationship dynamics, including bullying.

If someone you care about has told you they are being treated this way, then you are witnessing bullying.

Can Bullying Stop?

Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do to stop someone from bullying someone else. What I can do, though, is intervene when I know someone is being bullied to make sure they’re safe and getting any emotional, physical, or spiritual wounds addressed by people who are trained and ready to help. If you or someone you care about is being bullied:

  • Ask someone for help. This can be a teacher or professor, a pastor, or a parent.
  • Stay calm. Don’t challenge the person bullying you or escalate the situation.
  • Distance yourself from the bully as much as possible. The people you’ve asked for help can also help you make a plan to maintain a safe distance.

Don’t feel any pressure to talk things out or try to make things right with the bully if they frighten or threaten you or your friend. Make safety and well-being your top priorities.

How to Heal After Bullying

Healing after bullying is not an overnight thing. It may take a long time for you to uncover all the ways that a bully’s painful treatment has hurt you. Try taking these steps if you have been repeatedly hurt by someone’s bullying:

  • Allow time. Don’t rush the healing or “getting over it” process.
  • Care for your needs. Be sure you or your friend who is being bullied are seeing a doctor, a therapist, and a trusted spiritual guide to take care of immediate hurts and needs that arise as a result of being bullied.
  • Center yourself. Finding faith is hard when we’ve been hurt. But spend a few minutes every day reminding yourself you were created and given this life to live it fully. There may not always be something big to celebrate. But try finding little ways every day to be reminded of God’s love.

Healing in any way is a journey, and it can be tough. You can talk to a HopeCoach at TheHopeLine if you’re not sure where to turn after bullying. We are here to listen and help you find the support you need to help you or your friend after bullying,

For more help with bullying, watch this video by my friend, Brooks Gibbs, on what to do when you see bullying

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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