because

 

 

Image description: The words ‘stupid’ ‘ugly’ and ‘pig face’ surrounded by the colour of bruise place around a torso. The words ‘no because’ are pointing at the words.\

Over the last week, culminating with a workshop I did with people with disabilities yesterday, I have noticed a phenomenon which I don’t really understand and which frustrates me at the deepest level. It began innocently enough with a discussion with a colleague about issues which affect the lives of people with disabilities and as such the topic of bullying came up. In short order I was being told that I have to understand that bullies often have been bullied themselves and therefore, to an extent, their behaviour is understandable. Later, in the same conversation I’m told that bullies have poor self esteem and therefore put others down in order to build themselves up. Huh.

Then, in another conversation, this time with someone who is a trainer on the issue of bullying, I’m told that it’s important to remember that the bully often expresses deep felt anger and rage through their behaviour because they have no other way of getting the excess energy caused by their feelings out. I must have looked less than convinced so I was further told that I had to learn to feel compassion for both the bully and the bully’s victim. Huh.

Bullying is an interesting behaviour. We have somehow disconnected it from what it is, social or physical acts of violence perpetrated by one on another, and turned it into an understandable psychological phenomenon wherein compassion for those who hurt often seems to outweigh compassion for those who are hurt. In discussions about bullying, I realize, I hear so much more about the ‘poor’ bully than the ‘poor’ victim. Everyone seems to be racing to explain bullying by creating within the bully a psychological need to do harm.

Perhaps it’s because we need the behaviour to make sense. Perhaps it’s because we often talk about bullying in relation to children, conveniently ignoring that bullying happens throughout our lifetime by adults all around us.  We seem to want there to be a cause, which is why the word ‘because’ is so often attached to the word ‘bully’ … he’s a bully because, she engages in bullying behaviour because … there must be a reason. We don’t want to acknowledge the seductive nature of cruelty, we don’t want to acknowledge that one person hurting another may happen simply because one person chooses to hurt another, we don’t want to open our eyes to the fact that bullying may reinforce itself as a behaviour simply because it feels good. But none of this matters. None of this is what I want to say.

What I want to say is simple:THERE IS NO BECAUSE.

We need to stop explaining away the behaviour of those who commit violence and further we need to stop asking victims to feel sorry for their victimizer.

We don’t do it with other acts of violence.

He beat his wife because work was really stressful and on the way home he got a flat tire.

She called her little girl an ugly fat slob because she was really upset when she learned that she didn’t get the job she wanted.

He punched the waiter because he was tired of waiting, he’d spent his whole day on hold.

She kicked her dog twice, hard, in his chest because she was just tired of everyone being late for dinner.

THERE IS NO BECAUSE.

Violence is wrong. Full stop. I don’t need to, I don’t want to talk about it any more than that. I don’t want to give those who hurt fall back excuses for their behaviour. I don’t want people who are hurt by people who hurt excuses to make for the behaviour that they are experiencing. There is no because. Violence is wrong.

At the self advocate training yesterday, in discussing bullying, a lot of people independently brought up ‘poor bully’ statements about their self esteem, about their lack of education, about their past experiences … What? Pretty much everyone in the room had acknowledged that they had experienced bullying and here they were saying what everyone says about bullying … This what parents, shockingly, tell their children. This is what, astoundingly, staff tell the people they support.

IT HAPPENED BECAUSE.

But.

THERE IS NO BECAUSE.

A choice was made, hurt happened. I know lots of people who have horrible abuse backgrounds, I know that they would never, because of that experience, hurt another person. Having been bullied oneself isn’t an excuse for bullying it’s cause for enlightenment about bullying isn’t it??

It saddens me that we ask those who are victims of violence. Remember bullying is violence, it’s not a rite of passage for children, it’s not a psychological phenomenon caused by stress, it’s violence. It needs to be seen as a choice that someone makes, it needs to be seen as being, simply …

WRONG.

Because there is no because.

OK?

There is no because.

And as a result those who are hurt by others who would commit violence have a right to be heard and have a right to be supported and have a right to have their feelings matter. Because, and here there is a because … because they more than a punching bag for a ‘because bully’ … they matter.

THEY MATTER.