Be the person that your Bully fears: someone who fights back
I’ve been bullied since I was young. Growing up as a “sissy boy” as they called me in school, with a soft spoken temperament and excellent grades, I was the perfect target for boys who needed to make up for their school performance and low self-esteem, by preying on others. I was 8 years old.
Unlike other bullied kids, I never received a punch in the face, not even a push. Their words were enough to hurt me and make me feel lesser. They were enough to intimidate me. I became good at running for my life. Really good.
After school, at the ring of the bell, I would have to rush home through a convoluted network of side streets, including crouching through a 100 meter dark sewage tunnel, to avoid my after-school bully who happened to live in the same block of flats as me. He kept loyal to his threat everyday that “I will beat you up after school”. The race home was ferocious, and sometimes him and I would be at a stand off right in front of my house. He had beat me to it by a couple of minutes. After terrorising me, he would eventually let me go back into my own house. He had had his fill.
But he never beat me up. Neither did my other, daytime bully at school. They both simply enjoyed seeing me looking and feeling intimidated and humiliated. They “got off” on feeling powerful. Feeling that they had control over me. It was enough for them.
It would take me a good 35 years before I was able to come to terms with my childhood and start to actually process these experiences in a way that I can put them behind me. The worst was yet to come.
35 years later
Bullying would raise its ugly head again, this time at work, and among adults. I was an Associate Director in a marketing agency going through tough times. My boss was afraid for his job security, as well as my incredible talent. I was a threat to him. As bullies tend to do, if they are not good at something, they will make it look as someone else is worse than them, so that they look good.
So when I asked for a promotion, a coordinated bullying onslaught began. I got bad evaluations. I was accused of slacking off. I was accused of underperforming to a degree that was “sackable”. He had used his seniority and “power” to throw me under the bus.
And guess what, he won. I left the company. He got what he wanted. Instead of facing up to him, I quietly continued working until I could find another job. This is sadly what most people who are bullied do. They suffer quietly.
But slowly, something started waking up inside me. I had felt stressed and intimidated for so long, that I was ready to revolt. I was ready to take back what’s mine. This man had trashed my reputation, what I had achieved over a long 13-year career. I wasn’t going to let him get away with it that easy.
After leaving work I filed a formal grievance for bullying with my employer. I threatened further legal action, and I was able to make my boss feel smaller. Feel threatened. Because this is the only way you should treat bullies. Take away their power.
The power is mine now. After 35 years, I finally stood up to my childhood bullies. And this was only the beginning of a new “empowered” way to be: about my work, my relationships, my dreams.
Becoming an advocate for others
A person like me who is gay, brown skinned, and a foreigner living in the UK, will always be seen as an easy target. This is why I’ve had multiple bullying attacks in the corporate space in the past 15 years. I just look like an easy target.
But make no mistake, I’m not. You don’t want to mess with me. My breadth of experiences have made me knowledgeable on the legal space around bullying, misconduct, intimidation, as well as discrimination.
I don’t joke around. You discriminate against me, I go and talk to your boss. They don’t listen, I talk to your boss’s boss. They don’t listen, I go on the social media. I’ve done it all before.
Being different has been a blessing in that sense. It has made me stronger. It has made me more sane. It has pushed me to discover my writing and become an advocate for myself and others who are being discriminated against or bullied, especially in the corporate world.
I always step up for colleagues who are getting an unfair pressure from their bosses. I just go and talk to HR. This is how you do it.
So please, don’t be afraid. No one has the right to intimidate you because you are different, and talented. This blog is for:
the black sheep
the quiet, but fucking brilliant people everyone else is jealous of and wants to destroy