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Rated: E · Essay · Experience · #2239651
My personal experiences with this abhorrent behavior
Most people I know (and probably most people I don't know) have at some time in their lives been on the receiving end of unwarranted bullying. Bullying comes in many forms and has its origins as part of our overall behavioral repertoire. Bullying can work its way into every aspect of the human condition. It is actually a world-wide phenomena. No country or society is exempt.

Growing up I encountered the expected (for lack of a better word) amount of bullying from (certain) schoolmates and other peers when I worked part-time as a teenager. Learning that aggressive or intimidating behavior could satisfy or achieve the goal of the perpetrator, every successful bullying event appeared to embolden the bully to commit further aggressions. At the time, the prevailing societal mind set was, "oh, well, that's just life; deal with it, report it, ignore it, flight back, etc...." In reference to physical bullying as a young adolescent and teenager, my dad would often tell me, "if you need to pick-up some difference (meaning a stick or a club) then do so." Employing that technique (on occasion) either stopped the bullying in its tracks, or tipped the balance of a brawl in my favor.

Entering the military right after high school didn't mean the end of bullying. While there were many episodes during recruit training, technical and training schools afterwards, etc..., I particularly remember an incident involving a shipmate of mine during my first assignment onboard a US Navy Destroyer.

It was December, approaching Christmas day, and without any prior notice or warning the ship's crew was placed on a 96 hour alert in which we had to fully prepare for deployment to a hostile combat zone (welcome to life in the US Military). This meant loading the destroyer with supplies, food, fuel, ammunition, bringing all equipment and weapons systems up to full operational status etc.., everything needed to sustain and support the mission for which we had been ordered. Personnel on leave were ordered back to the ship, all time off was cancelled, and it was 24/7 "balls to the wall" for everyone up and until full operational status was achieved. It was incredibly stressful, and particularly hard on married crew members (I was single at the time) who had little to no time to prepare their families for the sudden and unexpected departure.

After full operational status had been achieved, we were allowed several hours to do as we pleased. Married personnel chose to be with their families, some of the single guys (me) decided on some well earned R & R. We met at the enlisted club located outside the base the destroyer was home-ported. So, I'm at the club, relaxing at a table with friends of mine from the ship. We invited several civilian and enlisted personnel (male and female) to join our table, preparing to move into the dance area of the club as a pop and rock band prepared to play for the evening. We were enjoying drinks and conversation, primarily regarding our pending deployment. Next thing I know another crew member with a reputation for bullying was standing at our table harassing and intimdating a friend of mine sitting at the same table. I stood, locked eyes with him, and told him (several times) to backoff and step away. He quieted down, smiled, and said, "okay." He turned around and left. I figured that was the end of it. I attributed what he was doing to the stress and tension of our pending departure, fueled by alcohol consumption. Next thing I know I was being jerked out of my seat by someone who had quietly crept up behind me. I broke free of his grip and immediately spun around, realizing this wasn't happening because someone was being friendly. It was the same guy I had told to leave just minutes earlier. A literal knock-down, drag-out brawl ensued, both of us exchanging blows from one end of that club to the other, the fight finally spilling out into the parking lot. The local police and military police were called, the fight broken-up, and we were both ordered back to and restricted to the ship. We we were later trespassed from the club for LIFE. Subsequently treated in the destroyer's sickbay, my face and the bully's face looked like both had been pushed through a shredder.

I'm NOT recommending the above as a solution to the problem of bullying. I was a young buck at the time, and I felt the perp left me no choice but to respond the way I did. It's probably why I wasn't punished any more severely than I was, but the other guy was discharged out of the service shortly thereafter. To this day I don't know if that incident had anything to do with it. Most of the time, officers and senior non-coms stepped in when they were aware of or witnessed situations regarding bullying, but it wasn't their job to babysit the younger crew members around the clock; we were grown young men, expected to do our jobs and police ourselves. And for the most part, that's what we did.

Bullying will never disappear completely. There are many different kinds of bullying, with each type (possibly) requiring a different approach. There's a lot of good information on the internet, and I encourage you to check it out. Bullying is not something that I deal with anymore, but I do respond to the occasional act of intimidation (or rudeness) by employing an ASSERTIVE posture. Assertiveness (when required) is the opposite of aggressiveness. It's a respectful way of standing your ground.

Remember - if you are feeling bullied, you are not alone. Help is out there.

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