Beating the Bullies


About eight years ago, I wrote an article on bullying for a writing website called Suite 101. I haven’t checked but I don’t believe it’s still up and running. I wrote about baby bullies becoming adult bullies, about the personality of the bully, the bully in the workforce and about the long-term emotional harm done to those who are the brunt of bullying. It was astonishing to see the comments to this article. People from all occupations posted their painful personal experiences; others called out for help; and still more reacted in gratitude.

I wrote the article because I was bullied by a single individual for almost a year. It was at a center for higher education, as they are called, and we were both professionals, again using the vernacular. This was one of the most painful experiences of my life, and as an adult, I was shocked that it occurred. Many workdays ended in tears, and had it not been for a strong support network and my own self confidence, there’s no doubt my persona would’ve been ripped to shreds.

The bullying stopped when I stood up to the bully. Literally, I stood up, faced her and would not let her take an inch toward my personal space. I stared her down and said something akin to a threat. That was it. She stopped. Not only did she stop, she decided I was her confidante. Over the next few years, she revealed a painful childhood that continued into her service as a Marine, and then as the neglected, sexually used and abused wife of a police officer.

Bernie SandersI bring up the article and my experience as a prelude to my online tactics on Twitter. I do think of them as “tactics,” rather than reactionary tweets.

I, like many Hillary Clinton supporters, have been called demeaning names, insulted for my gender, and maligned for my support of Clinton. My response has been nothing short of aggressive in many instances. At other times, I use ridicule. And more often now, I employ a dismissive Block.

My switch to the insta-block came after a series of uninvited tweets from one of Bernie’s fan club members. Her last message to me was: “Go kill yourself.” An alarm bell went off. I sat staring at that sentence on my screen. Self said to self: “You do not need to see this crap.” Like it or not, the ugliness penetrates into our psyche. It can leave an open wound, easily aggravated or a slowly healing scar. It’s best we not allow it entry.

Donald TrumpWe’ll soon be entering a new phase of the political process. I am certain that the Bernie Bros will leave the scene. However, I am also confident that we Hillary supporters will be facing a new menace and fresh hordes of bullies from the Trump campaign.

We’ve been through almost a year of the bared-teeth, finger-in-your-face aggression of Bernie Sanders and its online translation. I’m tired of it all. Exhausted with the onslaught of digital fisticuffs, taunts and slurs. I cannot imagine how Hillary Clinton bears it. I expect she has learned techniques. I also believe she is aware of what we experience in our social media domains. Just a week ago, in a presentation somewhere (AIPAC?), she stood solid and said “Stand up to bullies.”28-hillary-clinton-w529-h352

Clinton was referencing Trump. And, I believe she was sending that message to us as well – her cohort of maligned Tweeters. This is when I sense her as a human being – a woman who really does care, despite all the nonsense to the contrary.

Standing up to bullies will be – or is – an intangible yet concrete strategy of the Clinton campaign. That includes you and me. We have to stay fresh. We have to exude enthusiasm for our candidate. We cannot be diminished or demolished by the bullies.

How to do it? I’ve started by recognizing “bullying” as a tactic of the opposition. I understand why it is done. And I am protecting myself. That’s the best I can do at the moment. We each need this consciousness. As far as mechanisms, I think it’s important that we band together. We can become tribes that congregate, refresh, vent and lend support through the DM option on Twitter. We can call out for help when the gang-bangers attack, and know that our friends will be there. If there’s one trait I’ve noticed thus far, it’s that the bullies gang up on a single individual. We have to deploy the same tactic in a defensive posture. Sounds like war, yes. It is. However, I know we’ll get through it. My visual reminder, at the end of an evening or during an assault, comes from Hillary. I’ll sign off with this empowering reminder.

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6 thoughts on “Beating the Bullies

  1. How does Hillary do it? I would speculate that she’s been able to face down nearly 30 years of attacks on her from both the Right and the Left. She has handled it well in public, but I cannot imagine the mental and yes, physical toll it has taken on her. Especially now, with some Sanders supporters resorting to Right wing conspiracies and misogynist comments to go after her.

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    1. This barrage of attacks against Hillary resonate with her supporters, especially women, and is probably why we feel so strongly in her merit (why attack a strong woman if she were not threatening the status quo?), and why we are so protective of her. Hillary supporters try to provide a firewall for Hillary.

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  2. Wonderful! Thankfully the worst, I’ve been called is an “asshat”. But what was the worst part of it was it was on either a post I wrote or had shared, and the comment was from one man to another when one asked what the hell was the post getting at, or something of the sort, and the other replied, just some more feminist sh** that this a**hat posts. It was like either they didn’t think I’d see it, or they didn’t care. That was with a group on Google entitled “Politics”. After seeing more trolling than actual discussion of ideas, I dis-joined from the group a couple of days ago. Saw that Peter Daou of BNR was taking legal action against some who’d taken it way too far. Which let’s face it really doesn’t take much. I too, do not know how Hillary does it. She’s truly amazing.

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    1. Susan, I saw that Peter Daou was the recipient of that nasty defamation the morning I posted this. What an eerie coincidence. I’m on Sensible Politics @ G+ but haven’t been there in over a year so have no idea what’s going on or who they’re backing. Speaking of which, I tried commenting at your blog and got tied up w signing into G. I’ll try again when I have more patience! Cheers for the day!

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  3. I love what you’ve written, Grace — the elegance you apply to hanging tough, and refusing to be victimized or sent in retreat. In an e-book just released, I was asked to answer a question posed to 50 long-time conservationists about how I stay inspired despite negative pressures on wildlife. My answer applies to how I avert verbal assaults whether the topic is advocacy for Hillary, or advocacy for animal rights. I mentioned identifying success on one’s own terms — taking risks, instigating, agitating and inspiring others not to water down principles or throw in the towel. Bullies defeat our energies and stamina by getting us off balance — separating us, making us quit. As you did, Grace, standing up to them turns the page, and finding a tribe, a community that bolsters our convictions. Feeling sorry for ourselves isn’t an option. Maintaining assertiveness, timing, resilience and a sense of humor is most everything.

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    1. Pris, I’d love to see you write about this in Go Blindly. The ongoing fight to protect our resources and wildlife, which you’re involved in, is very similar to the current political fights. The same forces are aligned against conservation. And, the loss of our habitats and its denizens is just like losing the health of our physical bodies – when it’s gone, all else fails. Feel free to check and write at will!

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