Forum: Advice / Secrets PG-13

Group bullying and how to cope
By Anonymousmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat May 28, 2016 05:39 AM

Dear all,

This is going to sound extremely stupid, but will you give me some advice on how to deal with bullying in graduate school?

There is a colleague of mine who is very, very eccentric. He tries to be very cute in his mannerisms, is coy and acts like a little girl on purpose. In addition, he is ill-suited to this department and does not study very hard, though he has excellent skills in another field. His colleagues are ganging up to bully him.

I'm a mentor to this colleague. And recently I made a horrible mistake and just want to take it back: some of the bullies have been talking behind my back because I talk in the wrong accent; I don't talk like someone from my country, and there's gossip about that. Also I just ran away from an abusive situation, had a trauma right after that, probably have to change my name, and now have severe PTSD with strong dissociative episodes. Sometimes I go psychotic and try to drown myself. Now, I still write whenever I can, still meet up with professors to discuss papers and various projects, and on the rare day that I'm able to work, I stay up late to write as much as I can. The department knows this and is very supportive, willing to suspend deadlines, move my defence to the middle of summer break, and in general, make things easier for me because they know how hard I work.

As usual, people complain about deadlines, and some of those younger students gossip about why I get special treatment. It gets ugly, so a few days ago I confronted them on this issue. That was the mistake; now they are ganging up against that cute mannerisms student and making his life miserable. They think he's the one who told on them.

The thing is, sometimes I explain parts of lessons to him in his language, and of course the bullies make fun of us speaking our language. And the other junior colleagues who don't bully him don't particularly like him either. He's a very good person, but they just don't have anything to talk about. They're from different countries, the Russians speak Russian together and just sort of ignore him, or people are weirded out because he's so "feminine" and "fragile" and pretends to be dumb.

In short, he's an easy target. And the bullies were making his life miserable enough before I gave them the excuse to make his life even worse. I'd like to tell him how to be more confident and assertive, but the thing is, he's not suited to the field and studies so little that the teachers do not particularly like him either. He has many friends, though, but his housemates also bully him.

Can any of you tell me what to do about this? Should I speak to a professor or a senior colleague, or post something in our Facebook group or just ignore the bullies?

Thanks for reading, and I apologise for bringing up such a stupid topic. I mean, if it's primary school then I can understand, but it's graduate school, and we're all in our twenties.

1 Replies to Group bullying and how to cope

re: Group bullying and how to cope
By ShadowLunaCatPremium member
On Sat May 28, 2016 11:33 PM
In answer to your question about what to do, I can try to offer some ideas.

Bullies need people to pick on. They need someone who is somehow different from the "norm", visually, verbally, etc., who does not "match up" with how they feel people "should" behave. And, because they, as primary school students, do not have the flexibility to accept those differences, they feel entitled to criticize.

Please do NOT take this personally. This is not your fault. This is not your burden. These.. "people" are scapegoating someone who they feel is probably defenseless, who is not "changing" to match their norm, and they see you squirm, and they think "We'll harass so 'n so, and give her a hard time, and watch her lose control, and we'll have fun doing it."

And so they are bullying this poor creature, who is probably aware, but who probably doesn't see anything wrong with his behaviors, and they see you being able to communicate with this soul, and they're probably thinking, "Okay, two in a pod, we can have fun with both." Okay. That's THEIR perspective.

Here is MY perspective and my angle. Bullying unfortunately doesn't stop in elementary school. It doesn't stop when one has graduated high school. It persists through college AND it can persevere into the work force. What can change is how you react and respond to it.

The first thing is that those "bullies" will probably give you a wide berth if you encounter them singly. Individually they probably do not have the guts to approach you; they need the strength of the group to carry out their harassing behavior. So, that should tell you that it takes FIVE, SIX or more for their "mob-like" mentality to carry out this idiocy. So, that means you are stronger than they are. They NEED those five or six to make the bullying work.

Additionally, They are looking/preying for a reaction. They WANT to see you spazz, sweat, squirm. Then THEY have the power, and IF YOU LET THEM, THEY can push their feelings of "why does S/HE get to have such leniency with deadlines" onto you, and thus have some "revenge."

So you speak differently. Whoopie dee doo da. So you can speak a different language. Hey! Good on you! Not ONLY are you mentoring this person, but you can do it in a different language! Awesome! In contrast they probably DO NOT speak this language, and, if they are really following through with the bully mentality, they probably would think you two are talking about THEM. Yeah, primary school personality.

Hey, I'm from Boston, and I don't speak with the accent. I KNOW what "R's" sound like. I can speak "Boston" if I have to. I can relate simply because when I was in high school, and I spoke the way I do, which is because my father insisted on my having good diction, and he had me reading aloud after supper, I try to speak slowly and carefully. Well, I was harassed mercifully. Also, add my nearsightedness, my weight problem, um, yeah. So, I IGNORED the chumps. Looked at them as if they were crazy. Shook my head in disbelief. Found out the above, singly, they would cower away, not meet my eyes. When they would stomp hard on the floor, in rhythm with my steps, I took the beat they were offering, and DANCED to it, half beats, quarter beats, syncopateds, etc.

but, I digress. My bottom line is that these idiots need someone to give a hard time to. And they have found YOU. YOU need to take yourself off the bullseye. Ignore them. when one of them does something really crazy and outlandish, say something like "Here is ____ with a sterling representation of what college life!" Gee, I'm sure her husband-to-be would love to see this!" Don't give these one-dimensional people the joy of getting to you.

In the meantime, document everything. In the meantime, if they've sent you emails, texts, voice mail messages, save them, make a file, so that if you need to prove anything, it's there.

Do your work. Focus and concentrate on getting your work done. DON'T LOSE THAT GREAT PERSONALITY of yours on idiot turkeys like these. Surviving experiences like this will help develop an exterior shell in case you need it.

IF THEY GET PHYSICAL. If they hurt you, trip you, lay a hand on you, it's time to go to campus police, to go to the Dean of Students, to speak to your Prof. When behavior like that crosses to the physical, to either you or your charge, or, when they go to what you feel is too much of an extreme, THEN of course you need to take action.

In the meantime, consider them to be unworthy of your attention. They aren't going to get one IOTA OF ATTENTION from you. Pretend they don't exist. Don't give them the pleasure of even an eye blink. Don't let them have the power.

Think of Potter and Malfoy. Malfoy only felt powerful when he was sandwiched between his cronies Crabbe and Goyle.

You might, at some point, if one of them gets too snooty and full of themself, say, "we were complimenting you on your sweater, blouse, skirt, etc., but you are so full of bullying us, we felt as if the compliment was not worth the effort. Oops."

Try it. Take three deep breaths. See them as balloons full of hot air.

I'm rooting for you. I know you can do this. I applaud your language skills. Don't give up.

some resources for you: . . . . . .

Oh! You could ask your professor to enact a "bully-free zone." Something left over from Junior High school.

here is a .pdf for your interest: . . .

Hope this helps! ~~Shadow.~~


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