Why Do Some Get Bullied and Others Don’t

Question on humanWhy does it seem that the majority of those abused at home as children are abused and bullied outside the  home too? I’m not talking about later in life when we’re drawn to those who abuse us or some who were abused as kids become abusers themselves. I’m talking about when we’re still kids being beaten up in every way imaginable made to feel like we don’t matter because we’re dismissed, at home, only to go out into the world and be bullied by others.

I remember being called a cry baby by a few other kids when I’d cry in kindergarten . These were probably the kids eating paste, but they weren’t crying and they were laughing at those who were, so they must be cool. I was 4 when I started kindergarten.

Later, I remember being made fun of because I wasn’t good at kick ball in gym class. I was among the last picked for teams and never chosen as a team captain. In elementary school and middle school age, I was a blundering idiot AT school, because I was always nervous about getting the wrong answer, not doing well at whatever it was. My self confidence was really shaky.  The boys had a nickname for me that depicted stupid-ness. (I know ‘stupid-ness isn’t a word.) So every time they called me the name it was the same as calling me stupid. The boys thought it was hilarious. No one stood up for me. Not even teachers.

In my school (a Catholic school) it was ‘cool’ to be smart. It was not cool to be one of the kids called on and not be paying attention.

It was not cool to be getting  Ds.

In the public school system that didn’t matter all that much in the realm of bullying. If you were too “brainy” you’d get made fun of. But it didn’t work that way on the opposite end of the spectrum.

I don’t know every detail of the dynamic is public elementary school or even junior high because I went to Catholic school until the end of 9th grade. But I knew public school kids and most of my friends were public school kids from my neighborhood.

The only good thing about Catholic school was all the days off we had. I did have a couple friends in school. But one of those ‘friends’ actually bullied me a few times. Her name was Donna.

I used to walk to school in first grade and Donna’s house was on the way so I’d stop and knock on her door for someone to walk with. Many times, she and her older brother would have left already. I found out many years later, by Donna herself, that they used to try to get out of the house before I showed up.  And when they were there, her brother Steve would bring scary masks to school and put them on to scare me. Then they’d both run ahead of me and laugh. I don’t know or remember if I was scared of the masks. I was a huge fan of Halloween. But I would cry. And I think it had more to do with the girl I wanted to like me, running away, laughing and making fun of me.

But I kept going back for more.

The nun I had in first grade was physically abusive so I was terrified of her. I was paralyzed really. If I did my homework I was afraid she’d find something wrong with it. If I didn’t, I was guaranteed a hair or an ear pull.

I was bullied in the neighborhood I lived in, particularly early on after moving there. Two girls, one of which I had taken to and thought of as a friend, rode their bikes up past my house one day while I was out front of my house. I was actually pulling weeds for my mother. I remember feeling like I’d offered myself up on a platter. I mean, how much better (or worse for me) could that timing be. And what were the odds really of them being around to do such a thing.

When I was 12, I became friends with a girl named Lisa, who’d moved recently a couple blocks over from me. She’d already lived in my town before that, went to the public school and had been friends with someone in my neighborhood. And that’s how I met her.

After we’d been friends for a while, I introduced her to Donna…yes I stayed friends with one of my bullies.

{In fact one of the girls on her bike I wrote about above is on my friend list on FB. It’s twisted. This topic is a post or three all on their own. “What bullies and abusers of mine I stayed friends with just to be liked.” Ugh…it makes me sick.}

After Lisa and Donna met each other, they apparently became closer behind the scenes and likely talked shit about me behind my back. I was later bullied by the two of them, basically just for fun. That’s a story on it’s own with some telling detail about my mother too, so that’s another post. In fact I wrote about it before so I’ll have to find it.

Rewind back to being younger and playing with the kids in the neighborhood. Despite the bullies on their bikes, that shit calmed down. In fact after that incident they left me alone. In fact they told me in the midst of calling me nasty names that one of the girls, Annie, wanted me to leave her alone.

I was like, “Done!” Just leave me the fuck alone.

As time went on, I met other kids. And there was a long common driveway for the houses that some of those kids lived in, including one of the bullies on the bike, named Ginny. I even became friends with the other three kids in her family. Ha!

I am using ‘friend’ quite loosely here because in actuality these people would not qualify for the meaning of friend now that I know better. But at least they weren’t beating me up or calling me nasty names.

In the summer time and when the weather and sun permitted after school, we’d play kick ball or four square in that long driveway, otherwise known as the alley on 6th street. We had to distinguish it because there was an ‘alley’ behind the houses we lived in too.

As opposed to how I felt and behaved in gym class in school though,  I kicked ass in kickball and four square in the neighborhood. I was so good that people did want me on their team.

Basketball was a different story though. There were two nets in the neighborhood and it was an unspoken thing that even though they belonged to other families, anyone could use them.

I sucked at B-ball no matter where I played it. But I tried anyway, and was even on the team for my school for like a year, maybe two.  For some reason I enjoyed it. But in the neighborhood, I put up with the bullying from the boys who played regularly.  They really made fun of me.

There was a net at the end of our alley and a net at the end of the alley on 6th. The one in our alley was easier because it was shorter. The other one was not much fun because of how tall it was. Plus the part of the alley it was in, behind this guy’s house, was all jagged so the ball would bounce all wonky much more than when playing at the other net.

Thing was, though, the taller net was usually free of bullying…most of the time.

So back to my question…what is it about those abused at home that also get abused out among their activities in life?

Do these other kids sense that we can easily be bullied? Do they see a sign on our foreheads that says, “Bully me, I won’t defend myself? And then I’ll still want you to be my friend anyway.”

Besides most of the kids doing the bullying don’t care if we try to defend ourselves anyway, because even if we were to defend ourselves, the kids doing the bullying are generally a whole lot bigger. But they don’t pick on every single child who’s smaller than them, just a select few. And there is no way every single bully can know first hand the kids’ lives at home whom they are bullying.

Do bullies… even the ones who don’t know us, see an aura when they see us, even if all we’re doing is walking down the street, weeding the front lawn for our mom or sitting in an ice cream shop, eating an ice cream cone?

What the fuck is the damn deal?


16 thoughts on “Why Do Some Get Bullied and Others Don’t

  1. Hi, Sleeping Tiger. I don’t know how I missed seeing this post.

    Good questions. Very good questions. I wonder if anyone has ever done any studies on this. I’m talking about social psychological/anthropological types of studies.

    When I was in elementary school, I was not bullied. Instead, I was ignored most of the time, by most of the kids. I felt almost invisible. Which, now that I think about it, pretty much mirrored how I felt at home most of the time, during those years.

    But immediately after my family life went to hell, which started in the summer between the sixth and seventh grades, when my dad was arrested for almost murdering my mom, after our house was foreclosed on due to not having any money coming in, we moved to the city and in the new school I was bullied horribly, all through the seventh and eighth grades. Which, again, mirrored the hell I was going through at home, with my mom trying to gas us all to death and parentifying me, and scapegoating and gaslighting me.

    So yes, I think you may be onto something in your question. I think the kids who are being traumatized at home give off some kind of vibes or aura that bullies pick up on. Like packs of wild animals that torment and kill the sick, weak animals.

    There was bullying going on in my elementary school, too, even though I was not then the target. The bullies there picked on a few of the other kids. These kids all had one thing in common, they all had a terrible look in their eyes, the look of a trapped, dying animal. I would guess that their home life at that time was probably as bad as mine became later on, by the seventh grade.

    Horribly sad and unfair, isn’t it? I have often thought about the kids who were being bullied when I was in grade school. Oh how I wish I had been brave enough and empathetic enough then to stand up for them.

    When I first discovered social media, approximately 9 or 10 years ago, I connected with someone who was in my elementary school class and I asked him if he knew where this one girl was who had been bullied the worst. I wanted to reach out to her, at long last, and tell her that she never deserved to be treated that way. But he told me she had died years ago, as had another kid who had also been bullied.

    I am so sorry that you went through all that horrible bullying. When I was going through it, I felt like the whole world was hateful and unsafe. I almost didn’t survive it, either.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Hugging you back.
      Yeah, it’s weird. Vibe. I don’t know why I didn’t use that word, since I use it all the time.

      A study would be interesting but it would involve a “field” type thing, where the kids continue being in their abusive environments, both at home and at school. Of course the controls would be fine, but for the ones actually being studied, the whole thing would be cruel since it would have to take place over so much time.

      That is so sad about the two classmates you mentioned. Stress really does effect our bodies in ways that can kill us. It’s scary. When I think back to my exhaustion after being around my family and putting up with their abuse for those few months, I can really see how it can make people sick. It’s certainly part of what drives me to stay away from them now.

      The other thing I wanted to point out too is that kids that bully are generally abused or bullied themselves. I was abused by my father and at school and in turn I bulled my younger brother. It’s hard to see it from that side when you’re the one being so brutally picked on. But being on both sides myself, I understand the pain from a bullies perspective. That doesn’t make me feel any better about being bullied or less angry at those who bullied me though.

      And I’m not in any way excusing bullies or even my own behavior back then. But I know (now) for me, my actions toward my brother or any other situation where I lashed out at someone is a result of pain and likely an indirect cry for help.

      Thing is it was the adults’ job to see this and take care of us. Teach us how to love. I see some people writing statements like, “Babies are love, they only know love…” And that isn’t true. Babies are actually narcissistic and think that everything is about them and actually them. A baby doesn’t understand that mom is a different person than himself. He doesn’t understand the feelings of others, just himself. Just as hate/fear is TAUGHT so is LOVE.

      What do ya do though? I feel ashamed for bullying my brother, but now there’s nothing I can do back then. I can’t go back and not do it, because I know the psychological reasoning. It would’ve been better if I had united with him at that time. He was abused also by my father. But then I was abused by my father if I bullied my brother. So it was a lovely cycle of chaos, abuse and toxic dysfunction. Ugh, talk about cog-dis.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Good grief, I just reread my comment. I don’t know why I sometimes wait to proofread, until after I’ve posted and it’s too late to edit. Yikes, I am embarrassed by my longgggggg run-on sentences!

    I don’t know whether to blame it on me being sleepy, or on the fact that I am coming off of a sugar rush. I just had some pie that was way too sweet. I need something salty now to balance it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just read it and didn’t notice the run ons. Probably has to do with having a lot to say on the topic as much as anything else.

      We tend to think faster than we can write or even type. I’m glad for the keyboard and that I took typing classes in high school. I type pretty fast as a result and can keep up with my thoughts most of the time now. Lol. And no doubt I’m guilty of run ons myself.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Yikes, my kindle tablet got away from me. I haven’t noticed any run ons in your writing, I meant to say. I am glad I took typing, too, although I hated it at the time.

          Trying to make myself go to church. Don’t know why it’s so hard for me to leave the house some days. I usually feel better when I go.


          • Ha! I thought you were showing me a ‘cut-off’ sentence for comparison. LOL…J/K.
            I hated typing too. Weird because I like typing now. Maybe it was the learning curve…or maybe the teacher, or just the fact it was part of school.

            Oh well, whatever you decide as far as church goes, I won’t judge. 🙂
            I haven’t been in a church in quite some time.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi! I’m so embarrassed. I don’t think I ever commented on your blog before. But I can relate. I’ve written about this too. It seems those of us who were abused were TRAINED to become victims, and that’s why we get bullied out in the world too. It sucks.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Too Much Empathy? | Sleeping Tiger

    • I think bullies sense the sensitivity and/or vulnerability somehow. Sometimes the vulnerability is visible as well. I bullied my brother because he was vulnerable to me because he was smaller, younger. I will always wonder if i would’ve bullied him if my father had not abused me.

      Liked by 1 person

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