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6 Consequences Bully-Victims Experience

Understanding the challenges bully-victims face

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Updated June 16, 2014

Depressed Boy in School Hallway
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When it comes to bullying, there are often six types of kids who bully. But perhaps the most complex of these bullies are those who are bully-victims. These bullies are both bullies and victims of bullying.

Bully-victims are born after being repeatedly bullied. They bully others more vulnerable than them because they too have been bullied. Usually, they bully others to regain a sense of power in their lives.

Bully-victims are more common than you might think. In fact, a large number of bullies have also been victimized themselves. Bullying is a way for them to retaliate for the pain they experienced. Other times, bully-victims come from homes filled with domestic violence. Or they may suffer abuse at the hands of an older sibling. In these cases, bullying is a learned behavior.

What’s more, most bully-victims are typically loners or are at the bottom of the social ladder at school. This fact contributes to the bully-victim’s sense of powerlessness and anger. As a result, they often appear hostile, which keeps them in a position of low social status and perpetuates the cycle of bully-victim.

Here are additional consequences they experience.

Suffer more psychological stress. Compared to other types of bullies and more passive victims, bully-victims suffer more emotional stress than any other type of bully or victim. They also suffer more from anxiety, depression and loneliness. As a result, they may be at a greater risk for emotional problems including psychosis, substance abuse and anti-social personality disorder.

Have trouble fitting in. Bully-victims often have a harder time socially than their peers. They also are less cooperative and less sociable than those around them. And, they are more likely to be avoided by their peers. Most of the time, they appear to be loners because they often have few if any friends. Research suggests that both their bullying behavior and the frequency of which they are targeted by other bullies leads to this social isolation.

Struggle in school. Some research suggests that bullies who were also victims were more likely to feel unsafe at school. They also are more likely to assume that they don’t belong or fit in. As a result, these kids often have trouble following classroom rules. They also are less engaged in their studies. Much of this distraction comes from the emotional turmoil they are experiencing from being both a victim and a bully.

Cannot manage emotions. Often, bully-victims may unintentionally prompt children to bully them again because they react intensely to name-calling, threatening behavior and conflict by lashing out. Because of these challenges with managing emotions, controlling anger and dealing with frustration, this predisposes them to being bullied over and over again. Combine this with the fact that they then turn and inflict pain on others and the cycle continues to repeat itself.

Respond to stress aggressively. Because these kids have been bullied extensively and often respond aggressively to bullying, some researchers have found that bully-victims are more likely than other bullies to carry weapons or believe it is acceptable to bring a knife or a gun to school. What’s more, these kids have a general lack of trust in the goodness of the other people and appear more high-strung in their relationships. For instance, a bully-victim lives in a heightened sense of awareness, waiting on another person to attack or bully them and preparing to respond in aggression. This makes them appear defensive, hostile and unfriendly.

Experience consequences of both bullies and victims. Bully-victims often experience the same effects of bullying as other victims. For instance, they may struggle with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder. They may even contemplate suicide. Likewise, they also experience all the dangers and risk factors that bullies experience.

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