Bullying – What can the ‘victim’ do?
We ask counsellor and Counselling Directory member, Jennie Cummings-Knight to share her thoughts on bullying and what can be done.
“Bullying, whether cyberbullying or the more traditional form and whether from a friend, a family member or work colleague, is always distressing.
While it is good that measures should be put in place to counteract the more severe impact of bullying on individuals and making these bullies accountable for their behaviour, it is also important to think about the position of the victim and what they can do, if anything, to help prevent the bullying from happening.
The ‘pack’ mentality that we see so much of in human behaviour means we like to elevate individuals to high positions – such as celebrities – to then pull them down again if we feel let down in any way.
Similarly, a pack will ‘smell out’ a vulnerable person and focus bullying behaviour on that one person. If a person seems to be timid or more easy to push around, bullying may be more likely to occur. This means that helping the victim to become more assertive, can be a crucial part of perhaps reducing the bullying process.
There is often a co-dependency between two individuals locked into an abusive relationship and this is something that needs to be gently explored within a safe counselling relationship. It can often be easier to stay in an abusive relationship (and this includes the work environment) than to leave it, as change can be a frightening thing for many people.
The counsellor needs to help the client and explore the victim’s responses to other stressful situations in their life. This way common patterns can be identified and worked with. It may be that the victim has passive/aggressive tendencies, but they may not be aware of acting this way.
Both parties need to have attention focused on them – both the bullied and the bully – so that they are empowered to make the necessary changes.
With regards to an abusive work environment, the hierarchical system needs to be used according to the rules of the organisation, in order to help combat bullying.”
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