In this example, we meet Lilly, a teen who experienced bullying in high school. In the sections below, Lilly explains how she used the above strategies to cope with the bullying.
“When I was in high school, I had a lot of trouble with bullying. I was being bullied continuously by a few of my classmates. When they first started bullying me, I thought it was just harmless teasing. I kind of thought, oh well they are just making fun of me, it’s not that bad.
However, with time I realized that it’s not a joke, it was more than that. They kept getting more and more aggressive. They took my lunch, destroyed my books and spread bad rumours about me on social media.
Things started to get really bad. My grades suddenly started dropping, I suffered from low self-esteem and anxiety, and I avoided school as much as I could. I would pretend I had headaches and flu symptoms just to get out of going. I realized I couldn’t go on like this, that’s when I thought of doing something about my situation.”
Although it didn’t solve the problem, Lilly had some success by asking the bullies to stop.
“Asking them to stop was the first action I took. It was kind of difficult for me to do that at first because I had never stood up to any of them before. It didn’t stop the bullying completely, but some bullies in the group did gradually let me go. Others, of course, did not stop, but it took some of the pressure off.”
When Lilly walked away and/or avoided the bullies, this is what she noticed.
“I noticed that when I avoided them and showed them that I was unbothered by their comments and actions, they left me alone and turned their attention to a more rewarding target. I strongly believe it was because I didn’t give them the reaction they wanted or were expecting from me.”
Similarly, when she acted confidently around the bullies, she noticed a change.
“Unfortunately, there were times that I couldn’t avoid them. After a while, I worked out that they could see my vulnerability in my body language and behaviour. I felt and acted small and this made me an easy target. After that, whenever I felt vulnerable, I made sure to act the opposite. I held my head high, stood up tall and looked them in the eye. This oddly made me feel more confident about myself.”
Like most teens, Lilly was scared to tell others about her experience.
“When I was being bullied, I felt like I was all alone. I felt like no one was there to help me and that no one could understand my situation. I was scared to reach out and I thought I needed to deal with this myself. But, it was too hard for me and I couldn’t cope. I was emotionally exhausted. That’s when I thought of telling my mother about what had been going on.”
Lilly noticed the most change when she took the plunge and reached out for help.
“Surprisingly, she was really supportive. She was really kind towards me and wished I’d told her earlier. I felt really comfortable around her and ended up telling her more than I had planned. She helped me tell adults at my school. It turns out there was an anti-bullying policy at the school, which got the bullying under control. This felt really empowering for me and I grew a lot as a result.”
“Most teens are pretty strong. However, every one of us will come to a point where we can not handle something alone. One of the most important things a victim should know is that there are people who will help you.”
Lilly learned a lot as a result of her experience.
“When I look back at the situation now, I can see that it was not my fault. I was vulnerable. Now, I can see that it was not about me. However, it ended up being my responsibility to address this mistreatment.”