It's a Lie When Bullying Feels Like Love

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  1. Cheri, you write so well. I have read this article just at the right time when I needed to be sure I wasn’t trying to please people at an ungodly expense of me. Mention of the word ‘godly’ brings up some issues as well. When and what do you endure as a sensitive person for the sake of your Christian faith and when do you stand up to people? In my West African context, whenever you confront an elderly folk, it is considered disrespect even when it needs to be done. Thank Jesus for you.

  2. As someone who’s been abused, I can tell you that no matter how much you lie to yourself and say it’s all “just for fun”, or how much your abuser tries to justify their abuse, it always is what it is: abuse. So even if Rachel was able to laugh at it (which we don’t really know) for 3 months, that doesn’t make it NOT abuse. An improper reaction doesn’t make a wrong right. And if she had to endure it for more than 3 months, she would’ve gotten tired of it soon enough.

    So I totally agree with you, Cheri. It is bullying. Taking advantage of someone’s vulnerabilities over and over (especially someone you just met!!) is just mean. There is no upside to it, and it’s certainly not love. And Rachel is not doing herself any favors by lying to herself. So thanks for sharing this post and your perspective.

  3. Hippie4ever2 says:

    I would not encourage a parent to tease a child so they will learn how to react to bullying. I say that because my father too would tease me so I would”learn how to handle it” and my brothers saw this as open season on me as well. When I raised objections, they were “just teasing” and ” couldn’t I take a joke?” Jumping out at me from behind parked cars in the dark was to “prepare me for possible car jackers” though it seemed to me, it was just to entertain themselves. I love my Father and brothers too, but I think we should all abide by the golden rule. It shouldn’t take tears from someone to know our planned “joke” at someone else’s expense was wrong. I also don’t think Jesus would tease, torment someone in orde to ‘help’ them.

    I think this method of training to tolerate bullies is bizarre at best. May potentially breed more bullies and would give some the idea that bullying is normal and ok or that they deserve it. I have no desire to gain the respect of a bully, nor do I care to suffer in silence. The only thing my ‘training’ did for me was to accentuate my distaste for bullying wether I am the one being bullied or not.

    1. Love hippie 4evers response the most! What would Jesus do in these situations? I highly doubt teasing and “toughening up” would be His response. Love your blog!

  4. Cheri Gregory says:

    Sally — I’m re-examining what I find funny in light of this. I’ve always been bitingly sarcastic and assume that “everyone” realizes I’m “just teasing.” But the older I get, and the more relationships I’ve damaged, the more I realize that being careful…staying “on the safe side”…is always a wise gut reaction. Once I know someone well, I can always become more “playful” with them. But when an early interaction is funny to me and painful to the, it’s hard to recover.

  5. I think since Rachel does not have a problem with it and sees them as loving her then that is how we should look at it. I am highly sensitive too. I put myself in her shoes as you told the story. I would have reacted exactly as she did. I imagine after the initial fear died down she probably laughed right along with them. If she cried afterwards and they still treated her that way, then that would be bullying.

    I had to learn that as a child. In elementary I was bullied. Once I learned to control my reaction, I was no longer subject to their bullying. In fact I gained their respect.

    It was actually my Dad that taught me how to react to bullying. How? By teasing and picking on me. I knew my dad loved me. I did not cry when he teased me. I learned to be self confident and not listen to mean things kids say. Bullies will always exist. It’s too late to stop a bully but we can control how we react to it.

    1. Cheri Gregory says:

      Anastacia — Thanks for sharing your perspective! The danger with a topic like this is assuming that everyone else who is “like me” (highly sensitive) will react “just like me,” which is not the case. We’re each individuals, and our responses reflect that.

      You make a vital point: While we can’t control others, we can learn to control our own reactions, and that alters the relationship.