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The Connection Between Bullying and Hate Crime
The Weapons of Bullies
My Bullying Story
In reading stories about bullying and hate crimes, it hit me that there is often a connection between the two. In my own experiences with being bullied, the bully often hid behind some handicap or protection. From behind their safe shield, they hammered away at me, launching wave after wave of personal attacks. The attacks intensified over time. The bully tried finding out what my buttons where. They attacked my competence, my intelligence, and my choices. There were frequent comments about how stupid I was when I did not agree with them.
Although I, like many was taught the rhyme, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. Although hearing it and saying it gave me some brief moments of comfort, in the long run, I realize that some words do hurt. When the bully is a member of your own family or a close friend, the hurtful words leave emotional wounds. It took me several years to overcome the damage from comments about how stupid I was and how I would never accomplish anything. I realize now that this is part of the bully’s agenda. When they can’t beat you physically, they beat you mentally and emotionally.
When the bully’s personal attacks on my competence and intelligence did not work, they began attacking my friends, activities and associates. The bully began attacking me in these areas. When the attacks did not achieve the results they wanted, the bully resorted to saying things to my friends and associates. They were trying to isolate me from any support. I suspected that sooner or later, the bully would attack my religion, since it gave me some support. My suspicions proved true. The attacks on my beliefs came after the attacks in other areas proved fruitless.
The bully’s attacks my friends and associates were particularly hard for me. Besides lies and slanderous stories, when my friends came over, the bully made racist comments under their breath along with their typical put downs directed at me. I knew what the bully was up to. By whispering the comments, they were trying to have some deniability. It was a sick game, where if I confronted the bully, they would play like an innocent victim and I would look bad in front of my friends. Bullies often play games like this where if you say something to them, it makes you look bad.
In my case, the bully had a history of provoking physical altercations. They often mouthed off with insults and attacks until an attack was made on them When they were attacked, they hid behind their disability and claimed that the attack was some sort of hate crime. In dealing with my bully, I wondered how many reports of ‘hate crime’ are actually people that grew tired of the bullying that was going on and took action to stop it. I suspect that that it happens more times than is reported. When the bully does their thing, I was supposed to take it, yet if I struck back, it became some kind of criminal act.
When I did stand up to the bully, they began playing the ‘come on, you think your tough, hit me’ routine. Knowing their history, I chose not to hit or give any signal of aggression. I did raise my voice to let them know that bullying was no longer going to be tolerated. I knew that there would be repercussions. Bullies often have others that they use to intimidate you when you stand up to them. Since they often do not fight their own battles, they back down when it is one on one. I suspect that bullies are often cowards at heart who do not have social skills and instead resort to tormenting others as a way to feel like they are in control.
The bully true to form threatened me with legal action when I stood up to them. They made all kinds of outrageous lies. Bullies often react with lies to when you stand up to them and their intimidation. My bully hid behind their ‘protected’ status and continued with their attacks on my intelligence, choices and competence. I had to be careful what I said in response, knowing how they tend to twist your words around into something that you never intended. The twisted minds of bullies turn attackers into victims and truth into lies along with lies being presented as the ‘truth’. If that sounds confusing, that is a small sample of the bully brain. They often feel entitled to attack you and if you do not allow them to, you are being mean or what in modern terms is called ‘a hater’. Disagreement with them is viewed as ‘hate’.
Bullies know that if you take things to court, it would be expensive to disprove the lies they are saying. They want to have freedom of speech, but I was not allowed to have the same freedoms. In their mind, I did not deserve those freedoms.
Bullies often know that it is expensive to stand up to them in court (or wherever they attack you) and when you choose not to fight with them, they claim you are a coward. The bully hid behind their lawyer and continued launching attacks on me. The attacks did not end with verbal slander. Instead they grew progressively worse. It went from attacks and slander to stalking. The stalking was both a physical type and by telephone and mail. The attempts at getting the postmaster to stop the harassing mail were fruitless. I had to be careful in approaching the bully. If I gave them what they gave me, they would play the victim card with all the claims of me ‘hating them’ and being the attacker. It did not matter how many attacks I went through.
When I did take legal action on the bullying, the bully found a like minded bully lawyer. Claims were made that the recordings of the harassing phone messages were not the bully and that the letters they sent were not in their handwriting. The courts were useless in stopping the bullying.
In my case, it was considered a crime to stand up to the bully in the bullies mind. They even enlisted some family members and associates who sided with them to keep me ‘in line’. They used threats and religious intimidation to ‘prove’ that standing up to them was wrong and a crime. I was able to deal with them by remembering that they were just being the mouthpiece of the bully. My problem was not with them, they were just pawns in the bully’s terrorizing of me.
I wish I could say that the bullying ended. In many cases bullying does not ever fully stop. I found ways to stop the attacks and put distance between me and the bully. I learned that I had to do it myself. The courts, medical community, psychiatric community, law enforcement, fire departments and legal profession could do nothing to stop what was happening. These agencies can help at times when the bully crosses the line of finally attacking, yet when they have skills at brinkmanship and stay just inside of the law, hiding behind their protected status, the best choice is choosing not to fight, since fights are what they thrive on. Any fighting back is seen as an opportunity to take the bullying to a new level.
My heart goes out to those of you who have been bullied. You know what it is like. You also know how the bully often hides behind their protection. It is more like that snipe at you the whole time. You are expected to be vulnerable and take it. A friend gave me some good advice when I was in the throws of being bullied. They reminded me that “just because they have a ball does not mean that they play by the same rules that you do.” That helped me understand how to deal with the bully. They played by different rules than I did. They do not play fair, and they for sure do not fight fair. Expecting them to play fair was my mistake.