I never really thought about bullying being torture when I was younger. I knew that what was done to me and others was certainly cruel and mean but not torture by any means. I mean, these were young teenagers, how could bullying be torture? It is though in a lot of cases. Let me show why.
Bullying is the use of coercion, force, or threat, to abuse, aggressively dominate or intimidate. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception (by the bully or by others) of an imbalance of physical or social power. This imbalance distinguishes bullying from conflict. There is no universal definition of bullying. It is widely agreed upon that bullying is a subcategory of aggressive behavior characterized by the following three minimum criteria: (1) hostile intent, (2) imbalance of power, and (3) repetition over a period of time. Bullying may thus be defined as the activity of repeated, aggressive behavior intended to hurt another individual, physically, mentally, or emotionally.
Bullying ranges from one-on-one, individual bullying through to group bullying called mobbing, in which the bully may have one or more “lieutenants” who may seem to be willing to assist the primary bully in their bullying activities. Bullying in school and the workplace is also referred to as “peer abuse”.
Robert W. Fuller has analyzed bullying in the context of rankism.The Norwegian researcher Dan Olweus says bullying occurs when a person is “exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons”. He says negative actions occur “when a person intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person, through physical contact, through words or in other ways.” Individual bullying is usually characterized by a person behaving in a certain way to gain power over another person.
Bullying is divided into four basic types of abuse – emotional (sometimes called relational), verbal, physical, and cyber.
According to apt, the legal definition of torture is very similar to that of bullying.
Article 1 of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is the internationally agreed legal definition of torture:
“Torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”
I can tell you from personal experience that bullying leaves a permanent scar in your mind psychologically. From being mobbed by ten girls and finally kicked and spit on, to the group of boys calling after me down the hall to humiliate me, or the boys coming up behind me acting like they were humping me, or the rape I endured at 14, it all still haunts me to this day. It is always in the back of my mind that I am no good, a scumbag, or various names used to belittle me. I knew others who had much worse done to them. From the boy who was beaten up every day just because he looked differently or the guy they put upside down in the trash can full of gum and it was in his hair. The gay guy they orally raped in the gym shower room. What about the guy in my class they kicked in the crotch so many times they gave him a rupture? The stories are endless.
Even though I was treated as I was, I always stuck up for others. I knew what it felt like to be put through that hell. To have days that you were threatened in letters from fellow classmates wondering when they were going to hunt you down to hurt you or face the boys every day, endlessly, who held you down and raped you . There was no way I could stand to watch others suffer. It changed how I looked at myself and others. In some ways, it influenced who I am today. It certainly is part of the reason I am a human rights advocate and want to make a difference in society.
However, no matter how bad it got for us in our little community no one ever shot up the school. We had a lot of suicide attempts but no one took it out on innocent people.
The fact is bullying is torture. There is no doubt about it. It may only be psychological for some but for others, it is physical as well. It destroys you inside. It destroys your self-confidence, your outlook on life, the way you feel, the way you think and it psychologically scars you. No one should ever be bullied. I wish I would have stood up more often but how can you when sometimes even the teachers participated?
Bullying doesn’t just take place at school, it can happen anywhere there is a group of people. It is a form of power for some. For others, it is a transfer of some form of abuse they receive at home.
From the Wikipedia site:
Behaviors used to assert such domination can include verbal harassment or threat, physical assault or coercion, and such acts may be directed repeatedly towards particular targets. Rationalizations of such behavior sometimes include differences of social class, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, appearance, behavior, body language, personality, reputation, lineage, strength, size, or ability. If bullying is done by a group, it is called mobbing.[15
If you have been bullied or are being bullied, there is help. You can reach out to someone here. Please do it. You are important and you are valuable.
One thought on “Why Bullying Is A Form of Torture”
Thanks for a really great article. While I was teaching, I found bullying to be a problem even in elementary schools. I especially think it’s important that the children can have somewhere to go for help or just to talk about it.