Despite my dual masters and my White House internship, I am at the core a bullying survivor. No matter how many years pass, I still on occasion cringe when I see scenes of bullying in movies and TV shows. Flashbacks come to me, and the same words and fears as if I'm back there return to my head and heart.
With technology, being a bullying survivor is almost at the same level as being a war veteran. Facebook, Twitter, and so many other technological advances have literally given the bullies not only stronger weapons, but more importantly, more permanent bullets that can now be reused by whomever decides to do so.
While the life of a bullying survivor during the bullying is never ever easy, there are three things that I urge anybody connected to a bullying survivor to either assist or provide their friend with:
A Support Team
Alongside family members, especially my paternal grandmother, I found ways to at times alleviate the pain or even attempt to ignore it. My paternal grandmother took on the responsibility of a "best friend" and allowed me to call her on a daily basis when I came home and spend weekends with her there that were always surrounded by love, thrift stores, and activities that I enjoyed and grew self-esteem through. When you have a bullying survivor alongside you, they need the same army and battalion that their bully has outside and if possible inside the walls of the school.
A Safe Place to Vent
The scariest and most threatening feeling a human being could have is the feeling of being alone or believing that they are alone. From walking into the school bus to walking home after, they are faced with their own battles and wars, many they cannot win. When they return please give them as much time as possible to screen and cry and punch pillows only to get the anger out. This obviously needs to happen in a safe place and should at times happen with professional help. But if it does not happen, tragedy can and will ensue. My venting happened at my grandmother's and occurred through writing and drawing and sculpture. It also occurred through some tears of course as well.
The Searching and Strengthening of a Talent or Talents
When one is at school and is being bullied, it is very challenging for them to find their voice let alone their talents. As a result, there is a reverting like many schools that don't have extracurricular activities to dangerous decisions and actions. Therefore, when your survivor gets off the bus, allow them to realize that the door on their battle day has closed and the door to their own world has opened. Allow them somehow to search for things that they enjoy. Once they find one to two things try to make those part of their daily life after school. I can still remember personally days where I would write in my diary or journals or I would draw. I even went to after-school activities like a drama club class which allowed me to enjoy being me. Something that is very challenging when you're being bullied.
The bottom line to keeping a bullying survivor safe and allowing them to be happy and successful within themselves is to surround them with positivism. A spiritually driven and possibly ridiculous as that sounds, it is the truth of what really makes a bullying survivor a survivor and not a victim. Until the schools and federal administrations catch up to the reality of the bully and the reality of the bullying survivor, it is up to us outside of the classroom and school halls to end the tragedies that are occurring as a result of both online and offline bullying.