Friends Stop Bullies by C.M. McCoy

Friends Stop Bullies by C.M. McCoy

Bullies have been the bane of my existence since the sixth grade, and when I saw Brenda Drake was doing a blog series dedicated to anti-bullying, I knew I wanted to contribute. This cause is close to my heart.

Before I go into my experience with bullies, I wanted to share some things I’ve learned over the years. There are a lot of myths about bullying—that bullies just have low self-esteem, that bullying is harmless and builds character, that victims should just ignore bullies because they’ll eventually go away.

None of those things are true. According to a UCLA study, most bullies have ridiculously high self-esteem. Sure victims of bullies grow in character, but some also commit suicide. While a bully will eventually go away, that may not happen for years or even decades.

So what to do?

Let’s take a look at what a bully is and then we’ll tackle strategy.

Bullies emerge when two things happen. First, there’s a tumultuous environment (a change from grade school to middle school, a new boss in the office, a sudden shift in media exposure, a change in success of a member of a household, etc.), and then a social hierarchy forms. When that hierarchy forms, a leader naturally emerges, and if that leader has any insecurity, he may attack someone he sees as submissive. And then we have a bully.

This is cave-man brain at its best, and to combat a bully, you have to think like one, like a cave-man.

3 WAYS TO STOP A BULLY

1. Find a friend. Having just one friend may be enough to deter a bully. There’s safety in numbers.
2. Avoid submissive behavior. Hold your head high, look a bully in the eye, and say out loud, “STOP.”
3. I usually don’t advocate violence, but if a bully escalates his attacks from teasing and shoving to throwing punches, you don’t have to sit there and take it. Fight back. Learn to throw a punch. Bullies have killed kids.

 

What can you do if you see a bully? The number one thing you can do is speak up. Be a friend. Don’t succumb to the by-stander effect. Tell the bully to “STOP,” and then befriend the victim. Sometimes it takes just one friend—just one—to end a cycle of bullying.

Bullying doesn’t just hurt physically and socially. It hurts emotionally, mostly because victims tend to blame themselves. That makes them even more submissive and even more susceptible to bullying, which can last for years and take a huge toll.

It’s important for victims to know 1) it’s not their fault, and 2) they’re not alone. You, as a friend, can help by telling them and showing them.

I’ve been bullied a bit: I was teased mercilessly in grade school for my pointy ear (yes, for real, I have a pointy ear and I LOVE IT…now…), for my big nose, and pimples. One high schooler threaten to rape me if he ever found me waiting for the bus alone. I couldn’t WAIT for him to graduate, because I was too shocked and scared to tell anyone. Fast forward a couple decades and enter some unexpected media exposure. When a high-profile woman was arrested for attempted first degree murder, and I was her victim, the online bullies came out in full force. Especially after my oh-so-beautiful face, pointy ear and gigantic nose landed on the cover of PEOPLE magazine. At least my pimples had cleared up. Still, the derogatory online comments and open threats showed me the absolute worst of humanity. Those bullies are still around. They still send me hate mail, and I delete it. I have no idea if an online bully who’s threatened to kill me will show up in real life, so I carry a gun. Always. And I’m a marksman.

 

At the beginning of April of 2016, PEOPLE Magazine published a 3-page interview with me, and of course the bullies came back. It’s easy for me to delete hateful emails without reading them, but some bullies like to post online anonymously. I’ll never engage them, because that’s what they want. They want the thrill of the attention. Instead, I write about bullying and victims of bullies.

Bullying is an underlying theme in my YA Paranormal novel, Eerie. Two of the main characters have suffered bullying their entire lives and each developed a way to cope. One—Giselle—withdrew almost completely from her social environment and became mean, pushing everyone away as a defense mechanism. The other, Eerie’s protagonist Hailey, also withdrew socially. She, however, adopted a shy but sunny outlook, becoming so kind to everyone that she became somewhat of a push-over. It was her “kill them with kindness” defense. Until these two characters meet, they’re alone and on a fast downward spiral. But once they become a friend for each other, things turn around. It’s my favorite book relationship ever, because it rings true: friends stop bullies.

Thank you, Brenda Drake for opening up a discussion on bullying and for letting me guest post. My heart broke with your heart, and I hope A knows how many of us love and support her!

 

C.M. McCoy is an Irish dancer and former military officer living in the Great White North. Though B.S.’d in chemical engineering and German from Penn State University, she’s far happier writing stories involving monsters and Alaska (with an awkward kiss in the mix.) While working 911 dispatch for Alaska State Troopers, she learned to speak in 10-codes, which she still does…but only to annoy her family.

website | twitter | facebook

 

To find out more about bullying and to learn the warning signs of bullying, go to http://childsafetyblog.org/.

 

 

 

8 comments to Friends Stop Bullies by C.M. McCoy

  • Bravo to this post. Speaking out is how it stops. Making it unacceptable behavior in our society is the only way to take the power from the bullies. Writing it off, ignoring it, and turning the cheek — those methods have proven ineffective. It’s good that society finally sees it and is doing something about it.

  • This is SO important. I can remember being so ALONE and dealing with bullying. My best friend chose her boyfriend and his friends over me in 7th grade. I suffered for years. I married a bully. Thank God that part of my life is over. Bullies don’t go away, they just get more intimate if you “ignore them” as everyone tells you to do. I hope these posts help those going through this and help them to overcome!!

    • So sorry you were alone and bullied, Traci! But I’m so glad to hear that part of your life is in the past. It is no fun living with a bully or bullies. Check out my post on how I handle online bullies for a (hopefully) cathartic giggle: http://www.cmmccoy.com/blog/online-bullies/

      You’re right about physical bullies–they won’t go away until the social hierarchy changes or until you leave (if it’s a marriage), which could be decades. The thing that hurts sometimes the most is that “the bully” is a temporary social role, so that someone who is a bully toward you may not be a bully to someone else. It makes it hard to come to terms with without blaming yourself (which you should NEVER do).

      I love that you commented here Traci, and I hope you’ll keep in touch! I’m Colleen, and it’s very, very nice to e-meet you <3

  • Love this post. I agree that online bullying has spread like the common cold. Yuck. And school bullying…yes. Let’s speak up for others, especially as adults. My daughter, along with two other kids, was bullied in kindergarten and the principal refused to act. So as moms we volunteered at recess for a while and caught the kid bullying others. When I told the kid to knock it off, the principal was upset with me. He even lied to the kid’s mom about the situation. For two years she hated me until she brought it up in a group. One of the moms had been present that day and told her what had really happened–that we’d caught her son shoving kids to the ground. She was appalled at the principal for lying, at the fact that she hadn’t been given a chance to correct her son, and at how she’d acted toward me. If the principal had acted then think of how much angst could have been saved. I love the schools we are in now. Bullying is not tolerated. It still happens, but when the culture of the school is anti bullying it gives more people the courage to speak up, like you said. We as adults still need to be speaking up too.

  • Thanks for sharing! I hope this helps people being bullied. If they reach out and tell someone, find friends that will stand by their side, they can grow in numbers and stop the bullying, hopefully before it escalates to where the victim becomes frozen with fear and unable to live life as they were intended–happy and fulfilling. And, oh my gosh, I love the “I am Holly” video!

  • Julie Stafford

    Comments like these are so sad to hear that someone as nice and kind as C. M. McCoy was and is being bullied. I agres with all of you. She is one of the best people I have met on line. She was so helpful to me when I first found this group of indie authors. She was the first one there to help and offer suggestions. I’ve never met someone, especially online, who does so much good. What is this world coming too when someone like her is bullied. She is handling it in the right way, but I’m sure that doesn’t take all the hurt away. Know that you have a lot of people behind you to help you. Even your newest on-line friends. I hope to meet you in real life some day. You will always be in my thoughts!!😘

  • Thank you, everyone, for the comments! And thank you C.M. McCoy for contributing to this series!!

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