Handling a Bully

Regardless of whether you're being bullied, or witnessing another person being bullied; it is something which we may come across in one way or another. Some may see it end when they leave school, some may see it persisting into adulthood and even at the workplace. The effects of it may vary: some might simply shrug it off, some may confront it, and sadly, some may be deeply affected by it and have their mental health affected, maybe even considering self-harm or suicide. Bullying may come from the people around us: in school, at work, in the community, online, and at home. 

What is bullying? 

A bully is someone who uses strength or influence to deliberately threaten or intimidate another individual or group of people, who my be perceived to be weaker or different. Bullying can take on the following forms and variances, and may include homophobic, biphobic and transphobic elements:

  • Actual physical abuse and attack, the threat of it, or unwanted physical contact.
  • Verbal abuse involving crude and suggestive remarks and rumors, jokes and name-calling.
  • Non-verbal abuse, with the display of offensive gestures and body language, or imitating one with the intent to ridicule.
  • Online abuse through social media, blogs and forums.

What is the risk of being bullied if you identify as LGBTQ+?  International research shows that LGBTQ+ youth who are bullied are up to three or four times at risk of poor mental health, including depression, self-harm and suicide, compared to their non-LGBTQ peers.  

If you are a young person experiencing being bullied, there are several things you can do:

  • Always remember that you are not alone, and do not need to manage this alone.
  • Seek LGBTQ-affirming help and support to understand your own sexuality.
  • Seek out a trustworthy counsellor or adult who will listen to you.
  • Seek out other LGBTQ friends who may be facing the same struggles as you and share experiences.
  • Acknowledge that the feelings you may experience -  shame, embarrassment, guilt and fear - are all normal emotional reactions.
  • Stand up for yourself. You do not necessarily need to fight back physically, but clearly state your displeasure over the bully's actions. 
  • Keep a record of the bullying words, actions and other relevant evidence. 
  • Approach a trusted person with the evidence you have collected.
  • If you are threatened with physical abuse or experience bodily harm, consider making a report to the authorities.

How can you help? 

If someone who has been bullied confides in you, consider doing the following:

  • Be sincere, supportive and assist the person in seeking appropriate help and support.
  • Accept the person's feelings and take them seriously. And if the person shows warning signs of feeling suicide, do express your concern and get additional support. 
  • Connect the person to resources, such as a counselling service, or a trusted and supportive person who can help.
  • Empower the person to get help, by providing information about Oogachaga Hotline, Whatsapp and Email Counselling services.
  • Remember that you are not the only person who can help, and that you are not solely responsible for the victim or the bully.