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The College Student Vs. The Big Bullies


You ever have one of those situations where someone hugs you, those lingering hugs where it’s too close for comfort?  Have you ever had someone just nonchalantly ‘bump’ into you or inappropriate commentary or gestures that leave you feeling both vulnerable and cheap?  Some sexual harassment is more obvious than others and there are so many levels of harassment that sometimes we don’t even realize it’s happening until it’s too late.  How do you deal with sexual harassment or harassment in general and how does it affect you?  Well, I have had more than my fair share of instances and drawing a line is sometimes hard when you feel like there could be repercussions if you open up and say something.

I’ve always been afraid of opening my mouth; I tend to be the person who tries to maintain the peace in any situation.  I have been harassed so much throughout my life that it has left scars upon me that I fear will never heal and with every time it happens, it’s like the scab from previous instances are torn open and start oozing my confidence until there is nothing left but this shell of a person that feels not only victimized, but hopeless and cheap.  The worst part about it is being laughed at as a result and not taken seriously when I had clearly indicated that the behavior wasn't appropriate and unwelcome.  I get this sick feeling in my stomach, where all I want to do is cry and scream and ask ‘Why?’ 

In certain instances it’s hard to open up, out of fear that you won’t be believed or that the person who is harassing you makes you feel as though you are joke and not to be taken seriously.  You fear that there will be some sort of retaliation if you stand up for yourself or that you will have something to lose if you do.  It could be a job, or your kids (if it’s an ex-spouse), an ex-boyfriend who will get his friends to make a mockery of you escalating to defamation.  It could be coworkers jealous of your skills who then single you out to mock your accomplishments and sexual harassment is a way to make someone feel inferior.

Besides sexual harassment, there are also other forms of harassment, behaviors of other individuals who needlessly subject you to serious blows to emotion-whether it is a result of race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other quality or attribute that can be isolated and singled out.  Even as a stay-at-home mother for the past five years has subjected me to harassment or at the very least, scrutiny.  Those individuals insult my choice to raise my children look down upon me for it, causing me to feel bad about my choices for they aren’t the ones the aggressor would choose themselves or they simply view the ‘job’ as not a job but laziness.

People tend to harass others for the same reason why children are bullied in school, and sadly enough as we get older, we get better material to cut people down with.  Children are hit the most, simply because they have not developed the emotional barrier to withstand the abuse whereas adults have had numerous experiences and have developed that sort of tolerance for it.   We tell our children to brush it off, and proceed with that old adage ‘sticks and stones’ but even adults struggle with the repercussions of harassment and the psychological and emotional damage that it does to a person.  So do we have to start practicing what we preach, or are there ulterior actions that could be put into play?

There are laws that protect those who are labeled in the society for being different.  Different labels define us in mainstream society.  Gay. Woman. Straight. White.  Black. Bipolar. Student.  Woman.  Man.  Old.  Young.  Take your pick for there are an infinite number of labels.  Within each label are characteristics, qualities that are attributed to these labels which of course lead to stereotyping.  These stereotypes are generalized attributes associated with different groups, branching out into subsectors such as Baptists versus Southern Baptists.  It is with these stereotypes that people tend to be singled out and harassed-because those qualities are different or the mainstream belief in one group differs from that of another.

Everyone suffers from being singled out at least once within their lives.  Whether it is for sexual gratification where someone feels the need to take advantage, or simply the aggressor feels that need for empowerment and by victimizing individuals the aggressor is then emotionally satisfied. 

Now, I am not a psychology major, nor am I an expert in this field-but I do know what it feels like from the perspective of a victim.  I’ve been sexually harassed, teased, bullied as a child as well as in my adulthood; I’ve been singled out over particular qualities about me that set me apart from the rest.  I’ve been ridiculed for my current lack of employment, accused of being ‘unambitious’ and a loser (despite the fact that I’m going to college to earn my degree, to better myself for my children as well as myself).  I’ve been told I’m too strange, that I have too much energy.  The qualities about me that my friends admire the most, my hyperactivity and my usual jolly disposition have fallen under attack causing me to second guess myself.  Should I be different to appease the tastes of those who do not like me?  Should I become a chameleon and never have a true identity-simply morph into whatever is socially acceptable depending on what company I am in.  Or should I remain true to myself and simply take what people say as a grain of salt?  Easier said than done, that’s for sure. I thought I had grown out of being bullied after I graduated high school, after I got out of my twenties, and I suppose that now that I am in my early thirties I can perhaps dodge the abuse.  But I know that everyone is a victim, and no one is immune.   There is no vaccine for being bullied or harassed.  

Some harassment and ridicule can be shrugged off, but sometimes when it escalates to where you are constantly inundated with words and actions of hatred, that is when you have to draw the line and look to authorities to help manage the problem.  When it gets to this point though, it’s usually when people begin to fear the consequences of reaching out for help.  Victims begin to weigh their options: Which is harder to deal with?  Dealing with this harassment that constantly puts me into a state of anxiety and distress or contacting authorities and have that constant paranoia in the back of my mind that the harassment will only escalate as a result?  It’s a legitimate fear, honestly, but if the cycle of harassment and abuse continues, others will fall victim.  Opening up and saying something about it not only helps you in the long run, but probably helps out other nameless victims who lack the courage themselves to have a voice for themselves. 

One important thing to remember is that you are not alone and there are a number of resources that you can attain to help you, whether it is a friend to talk to, support groups, university programs, or church members and authorities-there is someone who will always be willing to help.  The biggest step you have to take though, is asking for it. 


Jay Pineda's picture

When I first read the title I

When I first read the title I thought that this blog is all about the bullies who discriminate, abuse or take something away from you by force. I have already seen many of those. They walk around like a boss, believing that they are the king of the campus and that no one can ever come above them. They bump you when you passed through them in the hallways, copies your assignments even without your permission, making you their errand boy and many more, yes you can add to the list. This is a typical set up in a university. There is always those who acts like this.

But reading on the blog post, I realized that this is not all about that kind of bullying, but with sexual harassment as well. Well in fact this type of persons deserves some reprimanding. They will continue to do this to you if you don't say a word, or worse, they might even think that you like what they are doing to you. Sexual harassment is a larger issue than the typical bullying and is not to be disregarded. This may hurt your emotions real hard compared to the typical bullying.Make a move against them.

iracquel's picture

I love this article! It

I love this article! It mirrors out things that go on in society. Everyone notices that they are there but no one is ready to stand up against them. We've all had our fair share of labels and unfair stereotypes, but then again, we have all wrongfully labelled people in our lives, not realizing that we are in a way harassing them emotionally or mentally. 

I remember my first roommate conflict in college. Apparently, I was paired up with this girl who just didn't like me...I don't know why and I've never bothered to find out (well, maybe I'm not a likeable person, I don't know). Now, I didn't really have a problem with the fact that she disliked me, I mean. that happens. But the approach she took to communicate it to me was just completely unacceptable. I had to endure almost a whole semester of having a roommate who throws verbal insults at me, shouts at me and literally treats me like dirt. I finally couldn't take it any longer and I reported her behavior to the authorities who made sure she was punished accordingly (did feel like sweet victory at that point).

Well, my point is that if you come across someone who is making you feel bad/ disrespects you in one way or the other, please be aware that it is your right to be treated with the atmost respect as a human being. As human beings we all have equal rights and we are due the same amount of respect that others demand from us. If you have someone mistreating you on campus, know that there are a lot of avenues where you will experess your concerns and be heard. You don't have to endure your experiences for a semester as I did, rather stand up to embrace your rights as an individual.

Mercer Smith's picture

I always used to be the type

I always used to be the type of person that would just keep my mouth shut to avoid any confrontation. Even if I was upset, hurt, or feeling really down I would just be quiet and put on a happy face to pretend like all was right with the world. It sounds like you are the same way. Because of that mentality, I had a pretty miserable time of it up until about a year ago when I realized I was worht way more than that and started standing up for myself. The worry for me is, with people like me, that they are just going to keep on in the same tendencies and never get out of that swing. I was in an abusive relationship for most of my undergraduate career, and it made everything difficult. I had trouble going to class, and studying, I was depressed all the time and I couldn't make friends.


I think one of the most important things that you can do in college, which you've seemed to recognize in your post, is make sure that you are being yourself and are treating yourself the way you deserve to be treated. Steer clear of the crazies!

java602's picture

I know that everyone has a

I know that everyone has a different experience, but I think for the most part, it is safe to say that harassment and bullying improves once you enter college, or at the very least improves from the high school environment.  In college, people tend to leave behind those petty adolescence problems because for the most part, they have realized that it is time to step up their game and focus more on academic work.  Of course there will still be some that remind you of high school bullies, but guess what? They probably will not stick around very long to cause you too much of an extended problem.  At my college, there were some students that were still in the high school mindset of spreading rumors and such, but they were gone by the end of the semester.  They were so wrapped up in causing problems for other people that they either failed some classes and were put on leave and dismissed by the school or they decided that college was too much “real work” for them and they decided to drop out.  Either way, the message that I am trying to communicate here is that things improve when you reach college.

Tomochka's picture

Bullies only get the language of bullying

           I can relate to every single point you have made. I am not a psychology major, so I cannot really give an expert opinion on the subject, but I can speak as a former bully victim.  I was bullied for my looks, body image, family relations, grades, choice of friends/activities/hobbies etc.  I used to cry a lot, I was beaten up and chewed out by the society because I was always quiet and kept to myself swallowing the pranks and comments hoping that things would resolve on their own. Unfortunately, there was never an older brother or a bigger friend with authority who could defend me. So, I learned to not be afraid, or at least not show it. I learned to distinguish people from bullies by just looking at them and the way they interact with others, and noticed few things.  Bullies of any kind always have something fragile about them.  After I have figured that out, I always managed to find this one little insecurity within them.  My turning point took place when I became a mother.  My own mother-in-law have been attempting to bully me ever since my husband and I said our “I do’s.”  First couple of years I put up with her by being nice and, as usual, swallowing the offense and hoping that one day she would see what a great person I am... silly me! After I had my daughter, something clicked. I realized that I would always shut the bully up at every attempt to diminish me.  It worked.  My observation of their weaknesses gave me power over them.  I guess, it is also a bullying in a way, but I never strike first.  I am always nice and polite, but I stop every bully/harassment attempt right when it starts.  Maybe it is wrong of me to act that way, but I will not ever let another bully make my life miserable again. I call it self-defense and see nothing wrong with it.

JasmineRose's picture

English Class Harrasments

I had a bully my first year in college. In my English class I was extremely involved in the lectures and class activities. I enjoyed talking a lot and volunteering myself for certain activities. Two girls at the time I tried to befriend. We even had projects together and would team up for class assignments. I started to follow both of them on Facebook and we would chat every now and then.

While in class one day I raised my hand to answer a question given to us by the teacher and the girls started to snicker and talk about me behind my back. I noticed this and I figured maybe it was just my mind playing tricks on me. However, I knew better and something didn't feel right.

One day while browsing my news feed I noticed that the two girls were talking about me and another girl in codes. They called me "the over-talker" and it really hurt my feelings. I just couldn't understand why they couldn't approach me and say something to my face instead of talking about me. From then on I didn't talk to them anymore and just concentrated on my studies.

What's Ironic is that my professor approached me and noticed a change in my attitude. She asked me was it because of anyone in the class bothering me. Of course I lied and said no. I just learned to deal with it and eventually i found new friends int he class that liked me and accepted me for who I am. 

ksequir0's picture

This is a common, albeit bothersome problem.

Everybody deals with bullies at some points in their lives, unfortunately. What many do not realize, is that most bullies are a product of jealously, ignorance, or simply someone lashing out at others because of an outside situation that they either have no control over, or feel as such. The aforementioned type of bully is, in my opinion, a rather tragic and depressing individual in need of help. Of course, that in no way justifies the behaviour of these people. The others, well, I find them rather contemptible. Frankly, I don't think anyone deserves to be bullied, as the victims are more often than not people who never caused any harm to begin with. I myself was bullied by students and staff alike throughout elementary and middle school, as well as a decent part of high school, up until the point at which I left, having had enough of the school and virtually everyone in it. I know what it's like, and I wouldn't wish that for anybody. I have been lucky not to have been bothered thus far in college, but even if they did, I doubt it would go too far. I've made it sort of a point not to take crap from anyone these days, but I will admit that it well never cease to prove irksome.

Tim Gogo's picture

Stand up for yourself and be a leader!

I've been in the similar situations throughout my life. I've been teased by girls, I've been bullied, I've been a victim of cyber-crime. (When that happened, my life got really screwed up and could have gotten in a lot of legal trouble). I've been picked on and criticized for things all throughout my life. Even in college, I get it sometimes- but at a very miniscule level. Being a victim of abuse or let downs is never ending. Regardless of where you go! There's a few things that you can do to help cope with it. 

To start, you can just deal with it. Don't worry about what people say about you and prove it to them. Keep going to school, keep being you and not let anyone bring you down. You can also stand up for yourself by... Actually, playing along with the ridicule or the jokes. (Works in my case). But also by telling them to "stop." Or by just being yourself. 

Another way that I learned is to be a leader. Which is essentially the same as standing up for yourself or not letting them bring you down. Stand up against the crowd and show them that you believe in yourself and you won't let anyone or anything stand in your way. 

There's a lot of ways you can successful deal with bullying, you just have to experiment with them and NEVER GIVE UP.