What to Do About Bullies and Violence Against Women

I could probably go on and on about this topic -  in the interest of education I offer the following (gathered in my own recovery)...... 

Bullying is not merely, as many minimize, an occasional stinging comment made by a significant other at the breakfast table, a bad day with the boss or children wrestling on the playground. 

Bullying is cruelty deliberately aimed at others with the intent of gaining power by inflicting psychological and/or physical pain.

Bullying behaviors are varied: name calling, humiliation, spreading rumors, gossiping, public ridicule, scapegoating and blaming, isolating, assigning poor work areas and job assignments or denying holiday and vacation time in the workplace, punching, hitting, kicking, taunting, ostracizing, sexualizing or making ethnic or gender slurs. 

One place we least expect to find bullying is from our spiritual leaders.  Below you will find some helpful advice:

Warning signs of bullying, power-over priestessing organizations/situations: 

* priestesses who regularly call formerly-associated women "dangerous" and "crazy"

* priestesses who play funny with their organization's money

* formerly-associated women who are reluctant to speak out forthrightly to others 

Some things that put us at risk of being vulnerable to Bullying, Power-over Priestessing organizations/situations: 

* our general tendency to ignore warning signs (you can't raise up good girls for the patriarchy if you teach them to pay attention to warning signs and empower them to avoid the real dangers they'll face)

* our general tendency to disregard the fact that people in our communities who carry power can and may use that power for harm

* the personal sense of invulnerability we carry that allows us to believe that what happened to so-and-so can't possibly happen to us

* our failure to explore the consequences of standing with and/or staying associated with women who are known to be abusive/bullying, something we do over and over again for personal/professional gain and other reasons -- no judgment implied, because everyone of us has done this and we continue to do it in various ways, even once enlightened

* our failure to recognize and incorporate into our understanding of things that there's always another side of the Glamour/Charisma coin and that our job as individuals is to determine how leaders deal with that other side of the coin before we decide to fully invest ourselves in them and their organizations 

This particular wording provided by Sage Starwalker

Those who are the targets of bullying often feel intense vulnerability, fear and shame, and increasingly lower self-esteem that may increase their likelihood of continued victimization. Victims may become depressed and feel powerless. Many who have been bullied over a long period of time become suicidal. Others may retaliate in acts of violence or begin to bully others. 

Unfortunately many people who victims seek out for support dismiss their feelings by saying, "It has happened to all of us, just ignore it," or by thinking He/she must deserve it. For too many, bullying has become such a part of the fabric of everyday life that many look the other way and have become numb to his devastating effects. Others see bullying behavior yet avoid intervening because they feel powerless to stop it.

Studies indicate that two-thirds of the attackers in thirty- seven school shootings felt persecuted due to long histories of being bullied by classmates, that being the target of bullying is a major factor in youth suicide, and that millions of Americans face workplace abuse on a daily basis. 

Many bullies have been perfecting their skills of intimidation since early childhood. Without intervention, the feelings and beliefs of childhood bullies become strengthened and ingrained. Bullying on the playground is frequently only the beginning of a life pattern that culminates in domestic violence and/or bullying in the workplace. Bullies depend upon the confusion, fear or feelings of powerlessness in their intended victims and the silence of those around them to continue their behavior. 

We learned, through many interviews with those who had been lifelong bullies until someone had the courage to intervene, that bullies are temporarily empowered, and that both bullies and their victims are injured by the helplessness, apathy and silence of others. We need to create workplace, school and community norms where aggression toward others is unacceptable, not because of strict laws or severe punishment but because we care about one another. 

Courage does not mean that we are without fear; it means as Pee Wee Reese demonstrated in 1947, that we don't let our fears stop us from taking action. "It is not death or pain or loss that robs us of power: It is the fear of death, the fear of pain, the fear of loss that turns the manipulated into victims and the manipulators into terrorists" (Abdullah, 1995, p. 56). 

Bullies by Jane Middleton-Moz and Mary Lee Zawadski. 

Definition of bullying from this book: 

"Bullying is frequent and systematic cruelty deliberately aimed at a person by a person or persons with the intent of gaining power over another by regularly inflicting psychological and/or physical pain"

And the first chapter in the book is entitled - Moving Out of Denial. That is a critical step - bullies get away with it because we turn our backs - we do nothing to stop them - we do not stand beside the one being bullied - we "don't want to get involved" or we are afraid it will happen to us.

Every day in America over 160,000 children miss school because of fears of bullying. 20% of high school students surveyed said they had seriously considered suicide because of having been bullied. 43% of our school children are afraid to go to the bathroom for fear of being bullied. 

Bullying exists in our schools, in relationships, both straight and gay, in the workplace - anywhere there are people. And yes, pagans are no different. 

It is vital that this national problem be addressed and it begins with each individual. It begins with education and it begins by standing up and saying NO! When we see a sister or brother being bullied - we need to use our power to stand beside her/him - to let her/him know she/he is not alone. 

We cannot continue to be blind to it. We cannot be silent. 

Online resources on bullying and violence against women from the Center for School, College & Career Resources

Financial Help for Women in Abusive Relationships
Relationships and Healthy Intimacy in School
Bullying Awareness and Prevention Guide
How to Combat Cyberbullying
Violence Awareness and Prevention Guidebook

Books about Bullying... You can order from Amazon right here!

Take the Bully By the Horns by Sam Horn
Bullies - Strategies for Survival by Jane Middleton-Moz and Mary Lee Zawadski
Woman's Inhumanity to Woman by Phyllis Chesler
How to Handle Bullies, Teasers, and Other Meanies by Kate Cohen-Posey
Odd Girl Out by Rachel Simmons 
Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher

Other useful books (for recovery!)

The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense by Suzette Hadin Elgin
The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense at Work by Suzette Hadin Elgin
Tongue Fu by Sam Horn
How to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable by Suzette Haden Elgin

Pagan Bully Website
Articles from Matrifocus

"Hard Times Trying to Walk that Talk"
"The Organizational Mysteries"
 "Imperfect Love, Imperfect Trust"
"Starting from Where We Are"
"The Biggest Bully on the Block ... any Block"