How Stalking & Bullying Changes a Victim
Becoming the victim of a crime, any crime, can change a person. Victims of stalkers and bullies face unique set of challenges largely because the crime against them lacks an end date. Over 50% of adult bully victims say that the crime against them lasts for more than 5 years and stalking averages range from 18 months to 10 years depending on the mental issues of the perpetrators. Bullying and stalking can also evolve into vandalism and violence.
Stalking and bullying changes every aspect of the victim’s life in unique ways.
1# IT CHANGES THE WAY THAT A PERSON FEELS ABOUT THEMSELVES
People like to be liked. It is important for emotional and psychological stability and well-being for humans to feel valued. Being liked and respected by our peers is a large part of that equation. Stalkers and bullies damage that stability to making victims question their value.
It can be very easy to internalize the bully’s behavior as a personal failure. It becomes a question of “why?” Why am I being bullied? Why doesn’t this person like me? Why would this person focus on harming me?
It doesn’t help that many still see bullying and stalking as a result of something that the victim either did or didn’t do. “What did you do to him to make him say those things to you?” “Why would someone stalk you? You aren’t famous.” “You should try harder to get along.”
This all feeds into the destructive notion that something that the victim did or didn’t do validates the stalker or bully’s behavior.
2# IT CHANGES THE WAY THAT A PERSON FEELS ABOUT THEIR ABILITY TO MAKE SOUND JUDGMENTS
As humans, we like to think that we have terrific judgement when it comes to our relationships with others. We can detect bad people and avoid those who wish to do us harm. When a person falls victim to a bully or a stalker, they often feel foolish that they let the perpetrator into their lives. Even when the stalker is a complete stranger, a victim will often feel that they somehow should have known what to do to avoid being targeted.
When the victim starts to question their judgement in this manner, it can snowball and lead to feeling insecure in all aspects of their lives. Victims stop trusting their instincts.
3# IT CHANGES THE WAY THAT A PERSON VIEWS THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Obviously if the perpetrator is a family member or formally a close friend, their opinion of this person is going to change. But even people bullied by someone outside of their immediate circle or even stalked by a complete stranger will struggle to deal with family and friends in the same way.
A victim may feel embarrassed about talking to family and friends about the attacks, concerned that they will be blamed, judged, or not believed. Sometimes people, unsure of how to respond to a person who admits to being bullied, will try to minimize the situation saying “oh it’s probably not as bad as you think” or “well she will get tired of stalking you and move on pretty soon if she sees that it doesn’t affect you.” This certainly can create a feeling of not being support or understood, further isolating the victim.
4# IT CHANGES THE WAY THAT A PERSON VIEWS STRANGERS AND THE COMMUNITY AS A WHOLE
For stranger stalking and anonymous online bullying victims in particular, the entire community becomes suspect. When you don’t know who is attacking you, it is easy to see danger in every face. This is debilitating for the victim and creates an atmosphere of paranoia and fear. Since most stalkers and bullies rely on isolation and humiliation as a means of control, this is particularly effective.
Even when a victim knows the identity of the stalker or bully, it can be difficult not to view the world as being full of potential conspirators. Is this new person really someone who wants to be my friend or are they trying to gain more information about me to send back to the perpetrator?
5# IT CHANGES THE WAY THAT A PERSON FEELS ABOUT THEIR FUTURE
For victims of online and public attacks, contemplating a future can be very difficult. Bullying and stalking is often an ongoing crime with many people suffering for years. Without the finite end of the crime it is difficult for a healing process to begin. Many victims never feel confident that the attacks won’t start again tomorrow or next week or next year. This state of perpetual waiting to be attacked can make a future seem bleak.
Even if the attacks do end, with more and more companies and organizations looking at online and social media profiles of potential new hires or members, victims who have been shamed online with embarrassing personal details and photos (real and fabricated) can become marginalized. Small businesses in particular may be fearful to employ someone who has had the attention of a stalker or bully for fear that their business will be targeted as well.
Victims can also feel that even years after the stalking or bullying behavior has ended, if there are social media or internet traces, they have to endless explain the situation. It is difficult to heal emotionally after an attack if you are forced to relive and reveal to an ever expanding circle of potential employers, organizations, schools, and even new friends and love interests that you were the target of an obsessive nut. In this way, victims can suffer for years, even decades after an attack has ended.
If you are struggling with stalking or bullying issues, we are just finishing up a new series of online workshops designed for professionals, business owners and executives, and individuals, designed to help victims to gain control of their lives. Please join our mailing list to get the latest on up coming offerings. You can also check our workshops page for more information.