Thursday, August 14, 2008

Emotional Bullying: Internet Road Rage

One of my blog reading "fans" was kind enough to send me a link to an article on emotional bullying. It is very accurate, and I hope that you will find as helpful as I did ... most especially for those of us who purport to be in the "business" of providing SUPPORT. So I thought I'd share some of it.

The article begins:

Emotional bullying is when someone tries to gain control by making others feel angry or afraid. It is characterized by verbal abuse such as name-calling, sarcasm, incessant teasing, threatening, mocking, putting down, belittling, ignoring, and lying. Also known as adult and workplace bullying, emotional bullying also includes such abuse as exclusion from a group, tormenting, ganging up on others, or humiliation. Moreover, this type of bullying also extends to racially or sexually abusive comments and behavior.

Ah yes, we have all experienced this on every list we've been on! We can name names and recognize very specific examples of each and every negative behavior listed here: name-calling, sarcasm...I know I for one have seen a great deal of that, as well put downs and lies.

The article goes on to describe the effects on one's health and emotional well-being - including suicide.

The author then very much echoes what I had concluded about the low self-esteem of the emotional bully. They are most often people who feel so badly about themselves that they can only feel better by belittling others. Putting others down is their only means of feelings superior in a world in which they feel so immensely inferior. Anyone who has been in a verbally abusive marriage or romantic relationship knows this all too well. It also happens in the workplace.

....[emotional] bullies exist along the same continuum as personality disordered persons who have anti-social tendencies and sociopaths. "While they may never exhibit criminal behavior, their inability to have compassion and understanding for others links them to these more severely affected persons. Psychologically, the root of all of these self-serving traits along this continuum is an internal lack of selfhood."
As for how to cope with this cruel and deviant behavior the article goes deeper than simply the advise to ignore them that we have all heard, and I for one often have trouble doing. I am very much guilty of attempting to argue back or trying to "defend" myself against very personal vicious attacks. It is far easier to tall someone to "not take it personally" than it is to do, when YOU are called a hurtful name, at least it's hard for me! T
he NY "don't back down" in me often gets triggered. But like road rage, we all know where that can lead and it aint good! And "you started it" needs to be left in elementary school yards and toddler playgroups. I assume those who can rad can very easily draw their won conclusions.

I am getting better at "taking it from the source"... turning the other check and walking away from it...though I am still learning. I am not by nature passive, so it is a challenge. I try and remind myself that we are all damaged by our loss and suffering in pain and a great deal of that comes out as misdirected anger. As the article says: becomes easier to ignore a bully once you understand that they are acting out of their own pain and insecurities and that to take it personally doesn't do you any good whatsoever.
There is apparently, too some conflicting advise in this area:

Experts say that the best way to address bullying is to take a strong, proactive stance. In other words, stand up to bullies. If enough people stand up to a bully, the reasoning goes, eventually the bully will be forced to change. However, according to web counselor Burr, "it depends on what you mean by 'change'."
I think some of us got this advise from our parents when we were bullied as kid sin school. In my experience, this works for the occasional, out of character, loss of temper nasty comment from an otherwise balanced and professional person. The article continues:
...while it would be in everyone's best interests for the bully to recognize and change their behavior, it isn't always possible. In other words, it is up to you to change your behavior and your response to the bully....[by] spending as little time, energy and attention as possible on the bully and his or her antics.
One of the final suggestions is:
- Be confident and look bullies in the eye. Speak in a calm and clear voice and name the behavior you don't like and state what is expected instead. For example: "Stop teasing me like that. I want you to treat my feelings and opinions with respect."
I hope you will all read this article in full and pass it around. (The link is in the first line of this post.) I found it insightful and very helpful, and again, I want to thank the anonymous person who sent this to me. We can all - including me - use all the help we can to deal with be being bullied...without falling into the trap of trying to fight fire with fire.

No, I am NOT playing victim. Victimhood is not a position I am at all comfortable with, and not part of my persona. I have plead guilty to, and take full responsibility for my part in these flaming wars and vow to work harder still to change. If each of us would so the same...take responsibility for OURSELVES and stop looking at others faults or what we dislike in them... the Internet - and the earth - would be far safer, saner, and more enjoyable places!

And so...I paused to rethink my "free speech" policy in regard to flaming, abusive comments. As a former university student and employee I know all too well the battles and debates over freedom of speech versus hate speech versus censorship. After some thought I have to conclude that what a publicly or private ly supported/financed institution does is one thing. This is a privately owned and controlled blog. My blog. I want to keep it a SAFE PLACE, and will exercise that right from this point forward.

DISCUSSIONS are clearly welcome on this and any future (and past) topics posted, of course! But discussion must be limited to the FACTS and ISSUES presented in the post. personally attacking or flaming comments will NOT be posted-- or a best will be carefully censored and name-calling etc. DELETED!

Please consider this when attempting to comment on this blog.



suz said...

Interesting article. Thank you to your "fan" for sharing. So very true. Admittedly I struggle with standing up to bullies, I tend to just ignore them, write them off as toxic people and dont go near them.

If they continue to pester me, I then stand up and set a boundary. I also regularly delete BS comments from my blog. I dont tolerate attacking me or other mothers. Attack the industry, the social structures, the problems, NOT the people. We have all been hurt enough.

I am glad you are rethinking your free speech concept. I view your blog (and mine, and anyone elses) as an internet home. If you allow people to come to your blog and attack you, what does that say about your own self esteem? Would you let them walk into your house and crap on your floor? If you invited them into your home and they were abusive what would you do? (Figuratively speaking, I dont mean YOU personally Mirah).

Free speech is one thing. Being an abusive nasty ass to someone in their internet "home" is another.

You dont deserve it anymore than I do or anyone else does. No one protected us back then. We must protect ourselves now.

Again, thanks for sharing.

AdoptAuthor said...

"I dont tolerate attacking me or other mothers. Attack the industry, the social structures, the problems, NOT the people. We have all been hurt enough."

Thank you for adding this very important point!

AdoptAuthor said...

Perhps some of us believe that we lost our kids cause we didn't fight enough and that has left some of us in perpetual fight mode?

But as you said, Suz, and I have often said - the key to anger is leanrning to channel it against the real enemies - and that sure as hell aint me or any other mothers who is in the same boat of's the baby brokers!

"Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage: anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they don’t remain the way they are."
St. Augustine

Suz said...

Perhps some of us believe that we lost our kids cause we didn't fight enough and that has left some of us in perpetual fight mode?

Yes, I can see your point here too. Many of us become hypervigilant in different areas. Some pursue higher education, some go after material stuff, the right husband, the perfect job, being the perfect mom, all in and effort to justify we are somehow finally worthy of our children and to be loved.

We need learn (at least I do) that we were always worthy and always loveable. We werent bad. Our children werent bad.

The system, the beliefs, the religious views, the laws THEY were bad.

And yes, channel the anger. Nothing wrong with anger. Use that energy against the industry not each other. When I see blog wars and nastiness, I cannot help but wonder how awesome it would be to harness all that energy and use it for something more productive.

AdoptAuthor said...

The examples of what mothers in particular who harness their anger properly can achieve are endless. And some of the most effective are mothers who have lost chidlren:

Megan's law - started by Megan Kanka's mother to reduce the number of other children abducted and killed by sex offenders.

MADD - these mothers all lost chidlren and work to change drunk driving laws. They do not sit in judgment of who is WORTHY of their support or not!

There are so many, many more...both US and internationally, like the Mothers of the Plaza.

I have so many quotes about the power of women and the power of all of us as opposed to one of know...

Why anyone would waste their time their energy bullying is beyond me! But if you look at the classic bullier - it is someone who has done little to nothing PRODUCTIVE toward ending adoption harm or the harm of the adoption industry. Hoe can they be productive when they are so busy counterproductive?

Or, is part of the anger that they are so unproductive and do not know
how to harness their own talents?

All I know is...I don't have the time - nor the interest - going to blogs to argue!!

Well...that's not entirely true. I DO go to blogs that extol the virtues of adoption and perpetuate myths and set them straight! being a myth-buster, IMHO, a somewhat constructive use of my time, energy and anger. I hope to educate the authors of the blogs and other readers and encourage others to do likewise.

AdoptAuthor said...

Very interesting further info on the subject:

Another view on bullies and self-esteem:

"Likewise, people with high self-esteem think they make better
impressions, have stronger friendships and have better romantic lives than other people, but the data don't support their self-flattering views. If anything, people who love themselves too much sometimes annoy other people by their defensive or know-it-all attitudes. Self-esteem doesn't predict who will make a good leader, and some work (including
that of psychologist Robert Hogan writing in the Harvard Business
Review) has found humility rather than self-esteem to be a key trait of successful leaders.

"It was widely believed that low self-esteem could be a cause of
violence, but in reality violent individuals, groups and nations think very well of themselves. They turn violent toward others who fail to give them the inflated respect they think they deserve. Nor does high self-esteem deter people from becoming bullies, according to most of the studies that have been done; it is simply untrue that beneath the surface of every obnoxious bully is an unhappy, self-hating child in need of sympathy and praise."

RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

Russi Today: America television Interview 4/16/10 Regarding the Return of Artyem, 7, to Russia alone

RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

Korean Birthmothers Protest to End Adoption

Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss

Who Am I?

Bitter Winds

Adoption and Truth Video

Adoption Truth

Birthparents Never Forget