Many people think of bullying as physical abuse, however, in actual fact, bullying takes many forms and ways. Here in Malta,we usually link bullying to children and young adolescents but it really happening all around us between colleagues, spouses, friends, parents, siblings and so on. Bullying can be psychological, sexual, physical and mental. In adults, especially, due to Maltese culture and upbringing it can go undetected because victims are too apprehensive to speak up, especially if they are male. In some cases, victims do not even realize that they are being bullied as they will believe that this type of behaviour toward them is what they should expect.
Bullying at the place of work is the least noticeable, but shockingly 18% of employees are being victimized, and the victim is under the impression that being the subordinate he or she must accept any type of behaviour, especially from higher management. This is not so- cordiality,respect and understanding should always be present ,even between colleagues who are occupying higher grades. It is not OK to be pushed around, yelled at and ignored. Any working demands placed on an employee should be done with decorum and professionality.
Now, as most married people will confirm, compromise and leeway are an important factor for a successful marriage, but a husband or wife must not accept any bullying from the other spouse just to keep a quiet atmosphere. Maltese household bullying is present in 41% of cases, 36% of these victims are men. There will always be a more dominant partner in every relationship, but guiding,coaxing and discussing are one thing. Being forced to do things or take decisions against one’s will is another. A relationship between two people committed to each other should be symbiotic, that is, each partner gives and takes equally. It is not OK to order your family to do what you want, however you want it, whenever you want, and if they do not comply, you make their life a living hell – that is bullying. It is not OK to be the only voice to be heard and to take all the decisions, all others to be ignored or overridden – that is bullying.
Do you know that bullying can also occur during consensual sex? The victim can be forced to participate in a sexual act that he or she is not comfortable with and if the victim does not comply there will be repercussions of some sort. Bullying of this sort will eventually lead to the dominant partner becoming bolder during sex and intimate moments. The victim will start abhorring sex and eventually this can lead to rape. Very few victims come forward with this. Again, in Malta, victims will hardly ever speak up. The reasons being insecurities, shame and acceptance of what should not be.
Undetected bullying can also occur during social gatherings between friends and acquaintances. Merciless teasing, rough jokes,unreasonable dares usually directed to the people who are timid,quiet and malleable. They are the perfect pushovers for their peers to turn into victims, maybe even unknowingly. In cases like this the bullies will be covering their acts under the guise of integration and friendship. The victim will try to ignore the hurt, humiliation and the feeling of helplessness as he tries to convince himself that what is being done to him is normal and must be accepted and endured so that he can fit in and be accepted into the group. In Malta,a staggering 84% of people below 30, have been bullied at some point within a social gathering.
Bullying, in all shapes and forms will definitely lead to more horrendous things, such as physical and psychological abuse. Depression, suicide tendencies and substance abuse could be a direct result of this if victims are not detected and given help and support. Unfortunately, certain geographical parts of Malta have a higher incidence of bullying. It is actually uncertain whether social status or childhood upbringing is the reason for this.It is really important that anybody who thinks that any type of bullying is taking place, speak up and have the courage to bring it out in the open so that it can be tackled and resolved before things get out of hand. Do not be afraid to confide.
In a third person: bullying is never going to be accepted so nobody should endure this type of abuse on their own. Help can be found in many different professionals and groups, you just need to reach out and free yourself from the prison you are in. All you need to do is to take control of your situation and turn your life around.