Bully or Victim? Is There a Difference?

…And Why Your Answer May Have You Rethinking Your Position


Fact: Every 7 minutes someone in America is being bullied_89299729_bullied_girl

  • Adults intervene in only 4% of those cases
  • Peers intervene in another 11% of cases
  • Leaving 85% of instances unchecked

Much is made of this epidemic as it should. We’ve taken every step to curtail these senseless acts. The enormous amount of legislation proves it.

49 States have implemented some anti-bullying legislation.

Bullying is a hot button issue for media, legislatures, educators, parents and the community as a whole. We sympathize with the bullied…our hearts go out to their plight. Graciously we accept for face value that the bullied are of the utmost character. Our first sentiment is always “they didn’t deserve that”.

Lengthy studies have been done on the long-term effect of bully related trauma.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) bullying victims are 9 times more likely to commit suicide than non-victims.download (11)

Add to that, suicide being the 3rd leading cause of death among young people and you can make the correlation that suicide or contemplating suicide is a long-term effect of bully related trauma.

The CDC further concluded:

Many teens who commit suicide experienced at least some bullying. Bullying by itself does not cause suicide…. But researchers found that youth who are bullied are more likely to be depressed, think about suicide and actually attempt suicide.

The point is…the long term effects of bully related trauma are real.

Millions are spent in research, studies and experiments to properly diagnose and treat the lasting post-traumatic stress associated with being bullied.

There’s only one problem…

We are only paying attention to half of the story.

brain loveWhy is nobody talking about the psyche of the bully?

As a society we automatically condemn the bully as a miserable person who enjoys seeing others weaker than him suffer. We shape them as a person just innately evil and should be stoned then trampled upon. Never mind the research proving the majority of bullies have endured extensive trauma themselves.

Results of a BBC Annual Bullying Survey bare this out.

People who have been bullied are twice as likely to become bullies

A similar notion is shared by Norwegian psychologist Thormod Idsoe who found a symbiosis between victim and victimizer when talking about post-traumatic symptoms.download (5)

“We also found that those with the worst symptoms were a small group of pupils who, in addition to being victims of bullying, frequently bullied fellow pupils themselves.”


You are not born a bully…you learn it.

Cause and effect! Remember Lionel Penrose and his Balloon Theory?download (4)

If enough pressure is applied to a specific point on an object, it will release an equal amount of energy in another direction to help balance itself. Same applies to the bully.

The pressure enacted upon them is exacted on another by their hand in an effort to balance the emotional self. I am in no way attempting to minimize the egregious and heinous acts being perpetrated. Truth be told, my wish is to shed more light on it by pointing out the victimizer was first a victim .

Bullies are not born they are shaped and molded by the trauma they’ve experienced.

  • 1/3 of the people who bully said they don’t spend much time with their parents or guardians
  • A similar number of bullies said there were arguments at home everyday
  • Many said stresses of family fallout like divorce or death caused them to act out
  • A large number of bullies point to either experiencing neglect or physical abuse as their reason
  • Bullies also point to the fact they are just seeking attention as a reason to bully

images (33)Everyone processes stress differently. Some of us push back. Some of us crumble. Some of us channel that pressure into productive endeavors. And some of us take that pressure and press other people.

The bully should not be ignored or cast aside because of their actions. They should be embraced. Research has proven that a bully was placed on his particular course of action by some external traumatic experience.

So by all means let’s continue to talk about the PTSD associated with being bullied. As long as we begin recognizing this also applies to the bully.

In 100% of cases bullying is a coping mechanism for someone who has themselves been bullied, or neglected, witnessed horrific things or endured varying degrees of trauma themselves.


Fix the Bully, End the Cycleimages (30)

In all cases where we want to learn more about the effects of bullying we shouldn’t start with the bullied. We should start with the bully.

Because we can easily quantify what happens because of bullying by pointing to youth suicide rates and school shootings where 86% of students said “other kids picking on them, making fun of them or bullying the” causes teens to turn to lethal violence in schools.

If we decide to be less reactionary and more proactive by looking at the psyche of the bully chances are high we get a view of someone much further down the path. Someone who is readily showing the effects of trauma at a much sooner clip than the person they are bullying.

So today in relation to the bully we have to coin a new term. Gone are the:

  • “oh just ignore the bully”
  • “all you have to do is walk away from the bully”
  • “fight the bully back and they will stop being bullying you”

Today, we get rid of those. They don’t work.

Because as we too often see; when the effects of bullying become too great; the bullied do fight back. They call it Columbine!

We are leaving all that behind.

Today we start anew….

…”embrace the bully” is the new mantra.

Embracing the bully means dedicating resources to the study and treatment of the bully mindset.images (1)

Let’s find out exactly what has caused this coping mechanism.  A coping strategy just as dangerous as self-harm.

Because if we dedicate some time to studying the bully we will see that there is no real bully at all. There is only an individual screaming out for acceptance and attention.

One bullies because they themselves are suffering.

No one is listening to the language they speak so they speak it louder and louder until they victimize someone else.

The victim becomes the victimizer but all we see is the relationship between the bullies and bullied…When the truer relationship is between victim and victim.

Yet it’s the bullied who gets all of our attention and gains our sympathy; While the bully gets criminalized.

Bully is simply a term we use to ignore one side of the issue.

And we have ignored it in droves.

That’s my take…do with it what you wish.

As usual, I invite you to leave a comment below. I would love to hear your take on this issue. If you like News You Can Use, you wish to be A Community of One and you realize that Stigma won’t eradicate itself then subscribe to the Lighthouse News and blog. Stay apart of the conversation! Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter. Let us know what you like or don’t like about the position taken on any of these issues. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Until next time,





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