Bullied out of life

February 14th, 2014  |  Published in Bullying & Power abuse, Guest posts

Guest post by Michael John Dennis

I can only tell you of my own experience, over most of my life, at the sharp end of bullying – group bullying, family bullying, religious bullying, social bullying, workplace bullying, bullying within the LGBTI community, and within the commercial gay scene in Dublin.

I now live in the UK but was raised an only child in rural Ireland during the 1970s and 80s, where the Catholic Church had a long history of being very powerful and exercising a stranglehold on all aspects of society.

I grew up being silenced, and for a very long time turned sharply inward.

Bullying has diminished my life

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Bullying diminishes life

Bullying has diminished my life, my opportunities for education, my mental health, self-confidence, and self-esteem.

I have had more than twenty years of workplace bullying in supermarkets – for being gay; for wanting to get out of supermarkets; for wanting to be a flight attendant. This was on top of being bullied at school for wanting to join the Irish Air Corps and become a pilot. I was openly mocked and seen to have mental health issues for wanting things that were not what “everyone else” wanted for me.

I am not allowed to be a person in my own right. Everything I am, or say, or do, in every way, on every level, and every issue, is judged as wrong. I have learned to be compliant to keep the peace, and dare not think for myself any more, lest it attracts disapproval and creates conflict. It is far easier to “know my place” – below everyone else, never equal.

Given all I have suffered at the hands of bullies, I make no apologies for coming across as “a bitter and twisted old queen” towards everyone who failed to protect me and joined in the feeding frenzy, not even bothering to see what was going on.

Bullies always win

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Bullies always win

I might have succeeded in things I have tried to do if it had been on merits alone, but the bullies were determined. It seems that bullies always win and get away with it because bullying is socially accepted. It can be a stepping stone to personal gain and success. The victim is blamed, and continues to suffer on a daily basis, which is morally unacceptable.

In some ways I admire the part played by Joan Collins as Alexis in Dynasty; the nasty and evil super-bitch, determined to trample on everyone to have wealth and power and protect her children’s inheritance.

It is not currently possible to get justice, even in cases of sustained and proven bullying. In many countries – the US, Canada, Ireland, UK, Australia, New Zealand – the law tacitly favours bullies, and political leaders do not have the courage to tackle this issue, and never will unless one of their loved ones loses their life to bullycide.

Tipping the balance towards justice

Even though many things have now been closed to me because of bullying, I do not want future generations to have to endure the living hell I have. I also want to live out the rest of my life in relative security and peace of mind.

One possible solution could be to make bullying a criminal offence, with provision against false or unfounded allegations. I think the police must be involved from the outset and should treat bullying in the same way as rape or first degree murder, because it is of vital importance for a person’s future potential.

In the meantime

I hate having to say this but I think that until we, as a society, find better ways to tackle bullying we have to help victims learn to accept it, and put up with it, to toughen up, be pragmatic, because nothing can be done about this problem in the short term. I have heard stories about gay teens being bullied in schools in the UK and Ireland, which is heartbreaking, and also shocking, given all the anti-bullying laws which clearly are not working

We have to bully-proof individuals until we can radically alter society.

By Michael John Dennis, Guest Blogger

Michael2Michael grew up in Ireland and currently lives in the UK. Despite his personal experience of bullying within the Catholic Church (among other contexts) he is a devout Catholic. He wants to encourage discussion of bullying within the Church and is committed to standing up for his LGBTI community wherever he is. Being silenced as a child has motivated him to speak out, and perhaps start his own blog or write his memoirs. His employment goal is to work with an airline, even though he was bullied out of his dream of being a pilot as a young boy.

balance

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11 comments on “Bullied out of life”

  1. Bullies are also victims of self-loathing, lack of self-respect etc,, but they must be held accountable. I held my former USA Veteran Affairs managers accountable in court. I settled with the Veteran Affairs in March 2014 and today, I am an anti-bullying speaker, coach, author, and HR consultant. Bullies try to win, but only if we let them.

    • Congratulations, Dawn, on constructive outcomes from bad experiences, and best wishes for ongoing anti-bullying work…Joan Beckwith.

  2. Bill Gove says:

    Michael, there is strength within you. You can have life of your dreams with airline industry. I encourage you to start a blog. Promote it in these types of webpages. It may take some time but writing, getting credible information out will make a difference. The global anti bullying community is listening and taking action. It may be slow, but any social revolution takes time and perseverance.

    Any changes in society has always been through the commitments and perseverance of a small number people. We are seeing the evidence of this, people are becoming aware of the pervasive, toxic result of bullying.

    Bill Gove

    • Michael John Dennis says:

      Bill, thank you for your response. Obviously, bullies and their supporters, who are aware of the power of social media to effect positive social change, will attempt to fight rearguard action. This is a dirty war and no doubt they will hedge their bets to ensure they do not lose, nor any of the battles involved.
      In view of this, if I attempted to start a blog or any of the other things you suggest (as someone like me, a target of bullying, who is meant to remain silent) then some actions in response could be to confiscate my computer and subject me to internet access ban for trumped up charges, for which I would not be permitted to make any legal defence and as a result, certain other of my living and home arrangements (such as living alone as I currently do) could be changed by court order (using such avenues as the Court of Protection and the mental health treatment acts). This is how really petty and small-minded bullies are and the dynamics in place in support of bullying seem to be getting worse.
      I have already given up on my dreams. Of course there should be such things in place as bullies being held criminally liable for bullying, but the fact is that bullies will then become even more paranoid and in denial, while bullying and victimising their targets even more.
      There is some hope for the younger generation, who are not prepared to be seen as negative for being bullied and who will not endure bullying like our generation had to, but nonetheless, I do not see any progress being made in my lifetime when some employers seem to think that in order to make their workers more productive they have to make them unhappy and they have to bully in order to achieve the desired results for their own promotion.
      One of the key things that has to happen is that those who bully and/or allow those who bully to achieve success have to be social and business “persona non-grata” in a wider circle even if there is no hard evidence in a legal sense to prove such bullying. Not only should targets be able to report in a confidential manner and receive support that they deserve, the bullies should also be properly held to account in a court of law and must not be allowed to use mental health of themselves or others as a means to escape justice.

  3. Researchers and therapists have been working on developing a treatment framework for those who have suffered bullying trauma. Many of us suffer lifetime affects of anxiety, self esteem, depression and more. It is imperative that we seek recovery with or without justice.

    We must come first.

    Now, in 2015, we are developing that treatment framework. Perhaps policies, legislations, and all the other horrid gaps in our world wide systems will take many more decades to resolve….that does not mean that we do not heal. We can live fulfilling lives without the their evolution. I encourage you to encourage others, to seek professional support. Those who are officially trained. Contact me if you need more information. http://www.abrc.ca

  4. Facebook ‘Like’ button removed on this post because Facebook glitch wiped the record prior to mid-May 2014 (at that stage, for my records, and with apologies for the problem to Michael John Dennis, guest blogger, n=88)…Joan Beckwith.

  5. Michael John Dennis says:

    Sometimes I wonder if I have somehow attracted the bullying to myself by my own actions, reactions and behaviour in failing to accept or respect others’God-given athority and having a problem with same – and especially with the (abuse of) athority, especially where Catholic religious issues did feature a lot in my bullying experiences – there was also the issues around both my parents issues and problems in thier own lives and as a result, should I have been adopted and/or taken into care, but with me there is certainly a lot of guilt and regret and the belief that somehow I deserved what I got, as God’s Punishment for being a disobedient child and not being obedient enough (God’s Mercy, Love & Compassion did not exist in our family and were, at the very least, highly conditional on being a worthy enough Catholic), issues which no amount of counselling could ever resolve – and the idea that bullying and taking that bullying is just a natural and normal part of life, as a person’s destiny

  6. Michael John Dennis says:

    I’m not sure that martial arts training as a form of “bully-proofing” would work, except in cases of physical bullying, although I do think that it would give a “don’t mess with me” (physical) barrier. In my case, it has been everything else except the physical, which is why it is never “simple and easy” to “just get over it” as so many people think, believe or assume. The role of PTSD in cases of sustained bullying has never been researched to my knowledge, and it is difficult to get data on bullying in general, except from those few brave victims who have refused out-of-court settlements and refused to let themselves be further bullied by legal teams into signing legal gagging clauses. For every such brave soul there are many many more suffering in silence from all forms of bullying, because the objective with most bullies is to silence their victims and to use the mental health card against them. There needs to be some way of anonymous reporting, including online, without having to go through a whole investigation procedure, ruining the victim’s chances of employment in the future (when it is the bully or bullies who should be getting sacked). I have long held that there are many similarities between bullying and rape/sexual assault as it is an abuse of power over the victim, onto whom the bully has projected/dumped their emotional baggage with no consequences for the bully, who is constantly rewarded for thier bullying behaviour.

  7. Andrew KeShawn says:

    Micheal great article. It’s never late to break out of the whole cycle. Just break loose from it all.

  8. Miranda says:

    The best form of bullyproofing I know, when/where it is available, is martial arts training. I’d recommend it to anyone, male or female.

    • joanbeckwith says:

      Thanks for this comment, Miranda. I’m making this initial response as the overall author of the website, and you will quite possibly also get a response from Michael as the author of the article as well. Your suggestion of martial arts training is a good option for a range of reasons that include and extend beyond bullyproofing. One of my ongoing issues in this area, however, is that the onus is so often on the targets of bullying, and what they can do to protect themselves, as distinct from the perpetrators and how their behaviour needs to change. I would like to see this emphasis shift. Although, perhaps there is an argument for martial arts training for everyone, including perpetrators?…Joan Beckwith.

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