You may associate bullying with playground taunts and middle school snickers, but this is an issue that can persist well into your adult years. Bullying is alive and well on many college campuses. Though there’s often little you can do to avoid the bully’s gaze, there are ways to stop the aggression in its tracks and prevent it from taking over your life.
Step Back and Don’t Engage
Bullies are usually looking for a reaction. Your distress gives them a feeling of power. Many bullies were themselves the victim of bullying in another situation. These individuals then go on to bully others as a way of reasserting themselves and regaining the sense of superiority that they lost before. This makes bullying a vicious cycle.
Break out of the cycle by refusing to fight back or by accepting any sense of blame, hurt, or inferiority. Recognize that bullies are only expressing their insecurities. Express nothing to the bully. Walk away quietly and confidently, and the bully will often lose interest.
Document the Problem
Though this may seem unnecessary, it’s always best to document any form of bullying that you experience on campus. Save text messages, emails, and social media communications for future evidence. If the bullying doesn’t stop when you ignore the instigator, this record will come in handy. It can help you prove to counselors, professors, or even law enforcement that there’s a serious issue going on.
Reach Out for the Right Kind of Help
You should never feel like you have to suffer bullying alone. However, your fellow classmates aren’t the best resource for handling a serious issue with a bully. Recruiting friends to help you fight back will only cause the issue to escalate. You should turn instead to a more impartial party who’s in a position of authority.
Someone like your school counselor, assistant dean, or RA is well-placed not only to council you on the issue, but to help you take action. These individuals may help you change your course schedule or living arrangements as needed to remove yourself from a hostile situation. If the bullying makes you feel unsafe or seriously disrupts your day-to-day activities, you may even want to ask campus law enforcement if they can help.
Find Your Circle
Bullies will often try to isolate their victims. In high school, you always had the safe haven of your home to return to, but the situation is trickier in college. Find a circle of friends well away from the bully’s sphere of influence so you have another kind of retreat here. Try joining a club, volunteering with a charity, or even getting a job so you’ll have plenty of chances to connect with new people. These friends can give you the support and validation you need to brush off the harsh opinions of the bully.
If you’re being bullied, keep your cool at all costs. Wait until you’re in a safe space to vent your anger, and turn to the right people for help. These actions can help you avoid a larger issue.