Anxiety, depression, panic attacks and even sometimes suicide are some of the long term effects of bullying. Bullying can cause life long struggles with self esteem and lingering feelings of low self worth.
Victims Internalize The Cruelty
People who have been bullied tend to internalize the cruel taunts and actions of others and ask themselves "What is wrong with me?" "Why do people treat me so badly? It must be because this is the sort of treatment I deserve."
Even years after the bullying incidents have stopped, a person who has been bullied often continues to be extremely self critical and insecure. They may even repeat the words and phrases of the bully back to themselves over and over again.
Immediate & Short Term Effects of Bullying
Most bullying incidence cause extreme emotional pain in the victim who feels humiliated, hurt, scorned and rejected. The following are some of the immediate and short term effects of being bullied.
Feelings of helplessness
Feelings of hopelessness
Alcohol or drug abuse
Feelings of worthlessness
Lower grades in school
Low self esteem
Self harming activities including eating disorders
Refusal or reluctance to attend school
Withdrawal from or lack of interest in social events
Greater incidence of illness
Suicidal thoughts and feelings
Most people feel that there is a logical reason why they are being singled out for cruel treatment. Because bullying is often an event involving a group of people, or one bully and several onlookers, the victim slowly comes to believe that perhaps there really is something wrong with them, if so many other people seem to be in approval of it.
They begin to develop a sense of dislike of themselves or even self hatred, and are understandably hesitant to approach or trust others socially.
These feelings are often expressed by reluctance to go out, lack of interest in or fear of going to school and avoidance of social activities.
Some begin to try to soothe themselves using alcohol or drugs to numb the pain. Others try to punish themselves with self harm activities.
It is a sad, lonely , helpless feeling situation.
Long Term Effects Of Bullying - Scars Last A Lifetime
The long term effects of bullying are heartbreaking. People who have been bullied are at higher risk for social anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug addiction and suicide. Without help, they can carry the hurt around with them for the rest of their lives.
Many people who have been bullied report that they have mental and emotional scars that seem to never go away.
Studies of the long term effects of bullying show that people who were bullied as children have higher risk of:
alcohol or drug addiction
unemployment or underemployment
dropping out of school
feelings of intense anger and bitterness, fascination with revenge
issues with trusting others
low self esteem
The damage to the victim is huge, while to the bully there may be no realization of the long term pain they are inflicting.
Victims Remember, Bullies Often Forget
Sadly, the bullies themselves are not always aware of the impact of their behavior. Have you ever seen talk shows where the host will bring in victims of bullying and their bullies 10 years later. Quite often the person who was bullied can never forget the incidents, whereas the bully may not even remember their victims names or remember the incident - they were just "letting off steam" or "were frustrated by my life" or "had some anger issues".
Zero Tolerance For Bullying
Schools, clubs, and parents must create environments where there is zero tolerance for bullying. The consequences of bullying need to be so strong that they deter these acts.
Cultural Change Needed
While zero tolerance for bullying is important it is so important to focus our energy on building a culture in our schools and workplaces that rewards diversity and is inclusive.
We as a society need to learn how to actively reward kind respectful interaction, rather than turning a blind eye, or excusing cruel behavior.
In order to eliminate the long term effects of bullying, schools need to create an environment where the culture is supportive of all kinds of people, and where diversity is recognized and valued, where treating others nicely is actively rewarded.
Let's all do our part to create a culture where it is cool to be positive, helpful, inclusive and supportive to others.
Are You Being Bullied?
It might seem like you are alone and that there is no hope - but there is hope and people care about you!
The fact that you are being bullied is not your fault nor is it a reflection on you, your character or your worth as a person.
Bullies attack others physically or verbally in an attempt to make themselves feel better by releasing anger or by putting others down. It is a reflection of a problem with them - not you!
Please don't start believing what they say or do. You are an awesome person and do not deserve to be treated like that.
Get help. Tell an adult you trust. Or call a helpline to get support and advice.
Please do not give up. Keep believing in yourself.
Here are the links to various helplines you can call for help.
If you are currently being bullied or recently got out of a bullying situation, please know that as you get older and become an adult things will get better!
You may be reading about the long term effects of bullying and thinking "Oh no, my life is miserable now and just look at the grim future I have to look forward to. I will probably be an unemployed loser with anxiety and depression and addiction issues."
You are in control. The only way you will become one of the people who are plagued by the long term effects of bullying is if you allow your self esteem and your sense of self worth to be eroded by believing the things the bullies said.
Throw the nasty things they said and did right out the window and know that you are an awesome person. Bullies are misguided abusers with lots of personal problems. Do not believe what they say.
People who were bullied but become successful, happy people get help in maintaining or repairing their self esteem and move on to achieve great things.
You can too!
Suffering from Long Term Effects Of Bullying ?
If you were once bullied and are still suffering from the long term effects of bullying, please know that there is help. You do not need to continue to feel this way.
With help, you can learn to free yourself from the impact of the past and move on to become a strong confident happy person.
The actions of bullies are abuse. They are not a reflection of anything about you but are due to the bully's own issues.