Bullying is a singular or repetitive act of physical and or psychological abuse designed to dominate, intimidate, coerce, and hurt others. It has evolved to encompass the cyber-bully who has at his fingertips the tools to target at will whomever, wherever.
Below we have collected anecdotes that reflect various types of bullying
Due to a childhood illness, Bert, as a boy, was quite thin and frail. Consequently, at school he was often beaten up, his lunch and/or bus fare money extorted. Determined to halt this, Bert embarked on a long-term, strenuous exercise regimen. Thus, as a young man, his physique was Adonis-like. In his own words, “People don't want to mess with me.” Unfortunately, Bert began finding his adrenalin and zeal for vengeance against his former tormentors almost overwhelming. More and more frequently he would remark, “Man, would I like to find an excuse for a run-in with someone”. All too often he did so.
Tickling can constitute bullying in that it forces the victim not only to laugh, but to move in ways they cannot control. Carried on long enough, it can impact upon breathing and cause great pain. (Indeed, in medieval times, it was used as a form of torture.) One woman’s husband often tickled her ribs and feet until she became hysterical. One evening, he continued so long she was forced to urinate. Enraged, she spent the night on the settee, leaving him to deal with the stained, sodden sheets. This ended all tickling.
A hospital worker, in charge of weighing patients, said to a sight impaired woman, while on the scale, “I can tell you you’re whatever weight I want, and you won't know the difference”. Then, guiding this same patient into the doctor’s office, she said, “I like walking with you because it gives me such a great sense of power.” The patient reported her; the worker was given a six-month suspension.
Actress Mariette Hartley and film director Patrick Boyriven were married for sixteen years and had three children together. Although their marriage seems to have been harmonious overall Ms Hartley found Boyriven to have a cruel and controlling aspect. This manifested itself during protracted road trips when he was driving.
Despite requests and pleas, increasing in urgency, from his wife and children, Boyriven refused to halt at rest stops in order to allow them to relieve themselves. This often caused a good deal of pain. Boyriven’s rationale was that it was vital, in cases of crisis or emergency, to develop, to the ultimate degree, mastery of bodily needs. Source: Breaking the Silence by Mariette Hartley.
A biographer of Salvador Dali recounts that, during his schooldays: “Bullied and bewildered, Dali escaped. As he would so often during his life, he began to invent what he would later call his false memories. … One of his prominent fears was that of grasshoppers, which never left him. His classmates tortured him with the insects, and he threw fits of such violent hysteria that the teachers forbade grasshoppers ever to be mentioned. Drawings of them were also banned, as they disturbed him equally. Source: Dali: A Biography by Meredith Etherington-Smith
Sometimes what results in bullying behavior begins with an intention to help. As an example, a leader of a therapy group became frustrated by one member’s seeming inability to assert himself at the most basic levels. The leader tried, through a number of methods, to facilitate his understanding of the likely consequences of this compliance. At last, in one final, frantic effort to jar him into seeing the depths of his passivity, she ordered him to “Stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down” a dozen times.
When finished, she asked him, “Now, tell me and the rest of the group, why on earth you let me treat you that way?” The man did not answer, but sat, silenced by tears of shame. Still, he continued attending the group, his demeanor even meeker than before, due to the humiliation brought about by this ridicule. Source: Nancy Cornell.
As medical science expands longevity, it has yet to find ways of matching physical life with mental acuity. Thus, with a growing number of people outliving their cognitive abilities, elder abuse is becoming an increasing issue, both in social and legal terms. By way of example, renowned painter Georgia O'Keeffe living until to age ninety-eight, became dependent upon household assistance.
Living in Mexico, her ranch was approached by a young man, Juan Hamilton, an itinerant potter. Hamilton seems to have hoped to persuade Ms. O'Keeffe to sponsor and promote his work. In order to find an opening, he offered his services, at low cost. By degrees, he made himself vital to Ms. O'Keeffe As her sight was degenerating, he helped her to learn methods of shaping objects from Clay. In time, he became her confidant, even convincing her, by an influx of flowers brought into her home on a given day, that they had been married. Ms. O'Keeffe accepted this deception, despite their large age difference and the fact that he brought his actual wife into the painter’s home, in the guise of an additional helper.
In time, Juan’s control evolved into petty brutalities. It reached a point where he would not allow Ms. O'Keeffe to have an apple when she requested one. If When Ms. O'Keeffe other helpers implored, “Please, Mr. Hamilton, let Ms. O'Keeffe have an apple if she wants one”, his resolve remained adamant. Source: Georgia O'Keeffe by Beverly Gherman.
Adam was a bully. He excelled at preying on the vulnerable. When he discovered I was a vegetarian it rocked his world. I was sitting in the empty cafeteria doing homework when Adam and his two minions, J. R. and Gabe, approached. While Adam stood by holding a heaping stack of cold cuts, Gabe and J. R. held me down on a cafeteria table, arms pinned and outstretched, and he clamped my nose shut with his free hand. Then they waited for my body’s breathing instinct to force my mouth open, at which point Adam stuffed the cold cuts inside. I gagged at the taste and smell, simultaneously gasping for air through the blockade of dead animal flesh.” Source: The Bed wetter by Sarah Silverman
A further example of elder abuse occurred in the case, eventually brought to trial, concerning a group of Romany workers focused upon isolated senior citizens. By offering home repairs at low cost, romance, friendship and pre-prepared meals, they were able to become essential to their targeted prey. At least one victim later said he found the food tasted odd, leaving him feeling unwell after having ingested it. Still, the loneliness of these seniors was such as to allow them to continue to trust these seeming care-givers.
In fact, drugs were embedded into each meal, speeding up heart rates. One financial manoeuvre consisted of persuading their prey to sign documents making this “Friend” a joint tenant. They explained this as a convenience, allowing the friend to occupy part of the owner’s home without legal barriers. In truth, legally, this meant that the carer would become a co-owner. The house could not then be sold without his consent. Even worse, upon the death of the owner, the house would pass, by right of survivorship, to this joint tenant. Source: Hastened to the Grave by Jack Olsen.
Author Oliver Postgate, an adolescent schoolboy, noticed that his Auntie Nelly, who in her own day had been firmly placed at the bottom of the pile by her own family, found a means of avenging herself. Her victim, the author, had been far too young to have had any influence on the familial pecking order. Still, as he recounts: “We would all be at table talking together.
If during a lull in the conversation, I should start to say something, she would recognize this as a signal that the floor was clear, and cut straight into the middle of my first sentence. She did this every single bloody time, and as far as I knew, nobody but me ever noticed. But I had been, and still was, too half-baked to object. Source: Seeing Things: An Autobiography by Oliver Postgate.
Christina Onassis resented her father’s marriage to the former Jacqueline Kennedy. One means of voicing this rage was to ask Jacqueline to repeat everything she said, far beyond the exceeding of the needs caused by linguistic differences. Source: The Life of Christina Onassis by William Wright.
In times gone by, some children, even before kindergarten age, became the major source of family income. One of these children, a little girl, became able to laugh or cry at her father’s command. During one evening, tired of performing as his perpetual puppet, she failed to obey his order to cry. Faced with her refusal, he dragged her across his knee where he whacked her hard several times. Then releasing her, he ordered her to laugh. With both skin and heart stinging, she did laugh and laugh, with verve, zest and gusto. Source: Hollywood’s Children by Diana Serra Cary.
Eminent visually impaired BBC broadcaster Peter White recounts in his autobiography (See It My Way) an evening of drinks and laughter with his father. Assuming his dad was matching him drink for drink, Peter White continued to imbibe each drink set before him. When his mother returned from some errands, she seemed abashed by her son’s state of inebriation compared with the mild flush and glow of her husband’s. White himself says that his jaws had begun to feel odd, his conversation pointless.
His parents loaded him into a taxicab. Next day, his dad phoned to find out how the previous drinking bout had impacted upon him. A still hung-over Peter then realized his dad had exploited his disability by refilling his glass far more often then he did his own. Source: See It My Way by Peter White.
Actress Debbie Reynolds was asked to appear in a film, the director of which was a notorious tyrant. Ms. Reynolds felt ambiguous. While the role was desirable, she was not willing to be bullied. Thus, when approached by the director, she accepted the part, but warned him that she always fainted when shouted at by anyone. Inferentially, any shouting on his part would result in drawn-out rehearsal time, delaying production. During the making of this film, whenever the director’s decibel level rose in regard to Ms. Reynolds, she was quick to remind him of the consequences if this were to continue. It always succeeded. Debbie: My Life by Debbie Reynolds
During the stage play based on The Diary of Anne Frank, the part of Anne was played by a young Susan Strasberg, her stage father actor Joseph Schildkraut. Their father-daughter bond was meant to be one of warmth and understanding. Thus, Ms. Strasberg was puzzled and hurt when at every rehearsal, during one seemingly gentle embrace; Schildkraut invariably gave her a savage pinch.
When she mentioned this to her real father, Lee Strasberg, director of the renowned Actors’ Studio, he advised her to appear not to notice. Then, next time it happened, she should cry out in pain, “Oh, Mr. Schildkraut!” This she did, putting a permanent end to such pinches. Source: Bittersweet by Susan Strasberg
Gloria Vanderbilt, as a child, became the center of a major custody battle. Due to this scandal, and perhaps envy of her extreme wealth, she became taunted and tormented by a group at her girls’ boarding school. She decided, rather than return the scorn, to give the leader of this bullying a nickname so preposterous that whenever she voiced it, her foe would be overwhelmed with laughter. Soon the two became such good friends that Gloria frequently invited her former enemy to her home for holidays. Once Upon a Time by Gloria Vanderbilt
In her autobiography, singer Edith Piaf admits to having a cruel streak. This manifested itself during dinners in restaurants. Piaf would choose, at random, a fellow diner, then begin to stare at that person. As this stranger’s discomfort grew, Piaf would increase the intensity of her staring. Inevitably, the other diner left the restaurant filled with humiliation. Source: The Wheel of Fortune by Edith Piaf.
Similarly, writer Dorothy Parker, during parties, enjoyed seeking out a stranger in order to begin a seemingly friendly interchange. She would ask her target about his views, ideas and beliefs in some depth. Then, having gleaned enough information, Parker, beckoning one of her cohorts, would recount whatever the person had said, with derision and mockery. Source: You Might as Well Live by Marion Meade
Shortly after graduating from university, a new friend and co-worker invited me to join her at a meeting of her fundamentalist religious group. Having done so, I found everyone so open and welcoming that I returned; soon I became a member. There were a number of meetings each week which all members were expected to attend.
Although these absorbed a good deal of my time, over-all I was willing. My first doubts began to arise when, explaining to the leader my need to miss one meeting due to a concert rehearsal with my local orchestra, he scowled, demanding, “Do you want to wind up in hell?” Trying to smile, I replied, “I do, if there’s music.” Some few weeks later, a vacancy arose in an apartment in which four church members lived in crowded conditions. I was first asked, then urged, later almost commanded to give up my flat and move into the empty room. Enjoying my flat and my time alone there, I refused. This caused contention which soon grew into thinly veiled friction. It grew.
Finally, I was summoned to a special “prayer and discussion” meeting. When I voiced reluctance to go, I was promised I would be in no way pressurized. Nothing could have proved less true. From the moment I sat down, I was browbeaten, told my refusal would send me to hell. Furthermore, I would be expelled from their fellowship. Fleeing in tears, I felt, in a sense, relieved. Seeing I had been drawn into a cult, I was glad to be freed from its suffocation. Source: Sheila Miles
Actress Amanda Barry was dyslexic during a time before this learning disability was understood. Her home life in turmoil, she was also forced by her mother to dress differently from the other girls at her boarding-school. In hindsight, she realizes that much of her truculent behaviour was caused by deep emotional distress.
In her memoir, she recounts: “I had always had a tendency to be aggressive when anyone or anything I cared about came under threat. Before even reaching school age, I virtually beat to a pulp a far bigger boy who had thrown stones at our family dog. At boarding-school, my aggression went out of control and invariably manifested itself in much the same way. I would launch myself at people, knock them over, grab their hair and bang their heads on the floor; I wouldn't stop until someone came and pulled me off. … In school, I was teased mercilessly, but it stopped short of actual bullying because I knew how to handle bullies; I beat them up.” Source: Not a Rehearsal by Amanda Barry.
Patti Smith’s album, Horses, coupling music and poetry in a unique form, has been acclaimed as among the 100 finest albums recorded to date. Undoubtedly, much of the struggle and pain of her years as a young woman is reflected in her creative work. In 1966, at age nineteen, finding herself pregnant by a boy around her own age, she recounts in her memoir: (Just Kids by Patti Smith) “Due to my unwed status, the nurses were very cruel and uncaring, and left me on a table for several hours before informing the doctor that I had gone into labor.
They ridiculed me for my beatnik appearance and immoral behaviour, calling me “Dracula’s daughter” and threatening to cut off my long black hair. When my doctor arrived, he was very angry. I could hear him yelling at the nurses that I was having a breech birth and should not have been left alone.
When Edward “Ted” Kennedy first ran for Senator of Massachusetts, his opponent, Edward McCormack demanded two televised debates. The first of these backfired in a way McCormack could not have imagined. He sought to undermine young Kennedy on every front, from referring to a boyish peccadillo while watching a bull-fight, to the fact that Mr. Kennedy had never worked for a living. Deeper jibes included, “We need a senator with experience, not arrogance.”, and “The office of American senator should be merited and not inherited”.
Ted Kennedy refused to respond in kind. Instead, although his voice shook, he defended himself against each verbal assault with no trace of hostility. Instead, he chose to emphasize the strength of his belief in his ability to assist the people of Massachusetts. Thus, McCormack became labelled a bully and mud-slinger. Conversely, Kennedy gained public support for having remained a gentleman throughout his attack. Source: True Compass by Ted Kennedy.
During the era when they were allowed to do so, countless teachers bullied students to the extent that, according to actor Jimmy Nail, they dispensed “the kind of beatings that “today would merit a long jail sentence”. Nail continues: “On one occasion, a teacher gave me such a hiding I was reduced to tears. I closed my eyes in class, and my German teacher decided I was asleep and told me to report to a senior colleague. … I knocked on the door.
Through the little glass panel, I could see him as he prowled around the room. After a moment, he waved me in. … He walked up and down the room, not saying anything as the class sat in abject terror. After an age, he said to me, “Why are you here, boy?” After Nail explained, the man asked, “Were you sleeping, boy?” “No, sir,” I said. He made his way towards me by first walking down one aisle, then another, even more slowly, dragging it out. Then, all of a sudden, bang! His open palm smacked into my face. I’d never had a smack as hard as that in my life. My eyes watered; I could feel my skin going all warm and red. . … That was just the start of it. He took a handful of my hair, yanked my head backwards, then asked me again, “Were you asleep, boy?” “No, sir.” I repeated. Wrong answer.
He dragged me to the door, then opened it with the hand which was still clutching my hair. Then it was out into the corridor, and we were heading for the stairwell. He banged my head against the panel with such force that the glass broke. … Downstairs, we stopped outside my classroom and he continued questioning me, while he smacked me square in the face. After about six blows, I gave up, and admitted to something I had not done. I lied, which I suppose I should have done earlier, but I had told the truth; that’s what you get for being honest. Source Jimmy Nail: A northern Soul
It was clear to the other children at my school that I was slightly different from them. When they played outside on their bikes, I just wanted to play with the animals. … Inevitably, things came to a head, though it happened in a strange way. I had been playing with a girl I’d thought I was good friends with when, without warning, she turned on me. … She was the natural leader of our group of friends, so the others just followed her. She gave me a nasty, spiteful nickname which the other girls picked on to, leaving me feeling hurt and alone. I was bullied from the moment of entering the school gates in the morning to walking home at the end of the day. … There was nothing I could do to stop this girl and her friends bullying me. … My parents and teachers became increasingly desperate as they tried to work out how to solve a crisis that was becoming more serious day by day.… Eventually it was determined that I should move schools. … I was relieved and scared at the same time, but excited to start afresh. Joanne Hull
When I was in elementary school, there was a nasty bully there named Frank Weber who loved to curse at me. … Whenever I walked passed him on the way to school, he’d try to shove me into traffic. … Whenever my class rolled back the moveable walls to make individual classrooms, I’d try to make sure Weber wasn't around because if he saw me, he would walk by, slap me on the back of the head and keep walking. … One day things changed in a way that would effect me for the rest of my life. That morning, Frank Weber had screamed at me in front of everyone. … I’d never even considered raising my hands to him, but suddenly I found myself filled with a fury I couldn't control.
Weber turned away from me, and when he did, I ran over and leapt on him, grabbing him around the neck with my left arm and punching him in the head with my right fist. He struggled and we fell down. As he started to get up, I kicked him in the ribs, really got him good. In that moment when I was punching Frank Weber and realized he had no appetite for fighting back, I found a joy that I can’t adequately describe. Weber never came near me again. From then on, I learned how to defend myself, and became an excellent boxer and wrestler. Tony Curtis
Freddy was the bully of our block and the bane of my existence. As I was the only kid on our block who had so far escaped Freddy’s ministrations, I held a special place in his malignant heart.The tar-paper roof of our apartment house was my private park. Unbeknownst to me, Freddy had studied my movements over the course of a typical week, the better to plan my eventual capture.
Deeply engrossed, I failed to hear Freddy creeping up on me. Leaping to my feet, I threw my book at his head. Slowly but surely, Freddy herded me into a corner; I was trapped. The next thing I knew, I was dangling from the roof. Now, I thought, if Freddy were to let me go, I would bounce off a clothes-line. I could visualize the look on my neighbor’s face, as she unsuspectingly reeled me in along with the rest of her washing. The image so amused me that I burst into laughter.
This laugh was to be my salvation. Thereafter, Freddy never bothered me again. He had done his worst and I had laughed in his face; I was the envy of every kid on the block. Source: Hands of my father, a hearing boy, his deaf parents, and the language of love by Myron Uhlberg