What is New?


June 23: edited my post on Gaslighting to insert a link to a very good video by psychologist, Ross Rosenberg, explaining how gaslighting starts in childhood, and how to heal from parents who gaslight.

June 6: PBS's Frontline takes on the issue of human sex trafficking of abducted teenage girls in the Phoenix, Arizona area. Click HERE for that.

May 17: Turpin parents get 25 years to life for abusing their children. Final words from children and parents at sentencing. Click HERE for that.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

taunting and goading is bullying (and bullying is abuse)!

name of cartoon: "Taunting and Goading is Bullying
and Bullying is Abuse"
image is © 2016 by Lise Winne
(for questions regarding use of images contact LilacGroveGraphics (att) yahoo.com)

The definition of taunting (from Google) is:
1. a remark made in order to anger, wound, or provoke someone.
synonyms: jeer, jibe, sneer, insult, barb, catcall; informal dig, put-down; teasing, provocation, goading, derision, mockery

1. provoke or challenge (someone) with insulting remarks.
synonyms: jeer at, sneer at, scoff at, poke fun at, make fun of, get at, insult, tease, chaff, torment, goad, ridicule deride, mock, heckle, ride; informal rib, needle

The definition of goading (from Google) as far as abuse is concerned is:
1. provoke or annoy (someone) so as to stimulate some action or reaction.
synonyms: provoke, spur, prod, egg on, hound, badger, incite, rouse, pressure

The noun of "goad" probably has something to do with the origin of the word:
1. a spiked stick used for driving cattle
synonyms: prod, spike, staff, crook, rod
"he applied his goad to the cows"

Usually both taunting and goading are used in tandem in abusive situations, along with verbal abuse and smear campaigns. Taunting and goading is usually where abuse starts (after making a laughing stock or derisive jokes). It is usually also the beginning of non-empathetic, cruel responses, and it usually escalates from there into a whole arsenal of other kinds of abuses.

Why is taunting and goading abuse? The purpose of taunting and goading for bullies is the same as in all abusive relationships: to find a scapegoat who will absorb a person's or a group's rage, anger and blame, and to gain power and control over the scapegoat and others within the social sphere.

If a person seems different, to have a different perspective and philosophy than the group, to be alone in some manner, taunting and goading that person separates that person from the group further mentally and emotionally for both the perpetrators and the victim. The perpetrator looks upon the victim as "not one of us" and the victim looks upon the perpetrators as "different from me."

Taunting and goading is contempt with a challenge. It is to provoke or annoy in order to stimulate some action or reaction from the target.

Most taunting and goading in bullying situations is filled with insulting remarks or derision, or it can be passive aggressive too (a lot of silent treatments, stonewalling attempts to discuss and resolve, chiding, targeted jokes, saying under-handed things which imply a threat, or communicating an "I don't care what you are going through" kind of message that abusers are famous for, particularly when "they should care"). Taunting and bullying is used to incite someone into an emotional state. The bullies want their target to feel anger, or depression, or sad, or alone, or to have feelings of inferiority. They want you to have feelings that you are different from others (a "freak" not worthy of their company or respect). It is all an isolation tactic.

Bullies want you to believe that fairness and justice are not meant for you, that they exclude you, and are only meant for others. They hope that this will incite you to fight back. They hope also that you will be so enraged as to not be rational. Ultimately, taunting, goading, injustice and bullying are used to provoke you into defending yourself, displaying emotion, or debating with them, or to compete with them, or to go away, or to go on the attack. The bullies want a reaction, and count on it, so that they can continue with more taunting, goading and bullying. They rationalize in their minds that any reaction you have is justification for more bullying.

If you defend yourself, the defense often comes with revealing something. The bullies might get emotional information about you so that they know what weaknesses you have so that those weaknesses can be used for more bullying. Any information they can get is what is used for more derision and put-downs. Labels such as "stupid", "crazy" and "twisted" may be used too. These are verbal abuses with gaslighting (all of it is likely to escalate to psychological abuses, emotional abuses and physical abuses).

At any rate, kindness is not part of the vocabulary. That is the point of goading, taunting and bullying: it is to get you to understand that no one will be kind to you, no one has compassion or empathy for your issues or perspectives. In the end what it really communicates is that no one in the social circle cares about you, or your well-being, i.e. no one cares about you physically, mentally or emotionally.

Taunting, goading and bullying are meant to diminish the target's self esteem. Bullies hope that if they drill into a target that he is not wanted or liked, that he will feel unworthy of being wanted or liked himself (i.e. poor self esteem). But it is a falsehood, a campaign that was manufactured by the bullies.

In a social context, taunting and goading's purpose is to get others to see the victim as "less than", i.e. inferior to others in the social circle he belongs to. It is a type of vilification and scapegoating.

Most tauntings and goadings are used to disable a victim from feeling he can "win an argument". In other words, it is meant to instill in a target that he cannot win respect, dignity, regard, or a voice in issues which effect him.

The bullies also usually try to make it known to the target, that the target is overwhelmed by a lot of opposition, such as "no one likes you" or "no one agrees with you" or "You're not important" or "you're not an important member." It is used to isolate someone from the social circle. The target is usually also told there may be ever more bully recruits on the way who will go against him. The target feels like an outcast, and the bullies teach him that he is an outcast only deserving of derision from the group. Mocking, gossip and scorn are almost always used in tandem with goading and taunting. These other types of abuses are designed to wear a victim down further into some kind of reaction.

And it is natural to react to bullying and injustice, except reactions often get victims of bullying into a deeper hole with ever more abuse hurled at them. Any reaction at all from the victim, even silence, is usually used in some way by the bullies to dish out more abuse (incidentally, silence and shutting down are symptoms of PTSD). These are some instances of how bullies sometimes react to the targets who have PTSD and who have gone silent:
"What-sa matta? Cat got your tongue? You really are a wimp! And stupid too! You know you are, otherwise you'd have something to say!"
"Ha! Ha! Good you're silent! That means you know we are right!"
"Good! We like it when you're silent! Who wants to hear what you have to say, anyway!?"
"Good! I'm glad to see that you know that what you have to say isn't important!"
"Come on! Talk, talk, talk, talk!" -- with chanting.
"If you don't friggin' talk, then you know what the consequences are!"

Even defending yourself from a physical attack can result in a bully or bullies telling authorities that you un-provokingly hurt one of their brethren (see my post on Abusers Often Accuse their Victims of What They are Guilty Of coming soon -- or check out a similar topic: Projection).

Bullying is abuse and almost all abuse escalates no matter what a victim does, how a victim acts, what he says, how he dresses, who his friends are, who he tries to please, no matter how much he tries to fit in, no matter how ingratiating he appears to be. Bullying and abuse are aberrant reactions, and the fault of the abuse lies entirely with the perpetrators of abuse. To understand more about who abusers are (mostly people with Cluster B personality disorders), why they perpetrate abuse, and who they tend to target for abuse, go to my post HERE.

In family situations, taunting and goading is most often expressed as playing "favorites" with children. The parent(s) thinks that by playing favorites, it will spur all children to work harder (and especially to work hard for parental approval and love). If the child cries over the injustice, the abusive parent is sometimes known to get a little skip in their step, and be unmoved by the child's pain.

It is no different than bullies on the playground: they like upsetting their targets.

In the end, most children who are scapegoated by bullying parent(s) or bullying sibling(s) end up abandoning their family. Most children know that "real" parental love is not abuse with taunting and goading, or conditional upon unrealistic and hair-trigger expectations of "perfectionism" (see my post on perfectionism for better understanding). If bullying is carried on for any length of time, especially into teenage years, children can become highly rebellious. If it is carried into adulthood, estrangement from parents is more the norm. See my post on Favoritism in the Family for more information.

Alternatively, many parents reject children outright, hoping it will spur those children to want to be accepted. The problem with this thinking is that it negates feelings in a child of wanting to be accepted by abusive parents. The child cannot respect his parents, because his parents are abusive. So in the end, you may have parents who give up on a child who won't bend under pressure no matter how many "punishments" (i.e. abuse) are hurled at them. And you also have a child or children who will not bend under pressure because he has no respect for bullying hypocritical parents.

So, what is a person to do about taunting and goading?

What victims of bullying often find is that having a loner status is a detriment. So they often form their own group (perhaps other victims are part of that group) and defend each other from the attacks and isolation tactics of the bullies, much as a tribe defends its members against another tribe out in the jungle. The other analogy is to keep the "good people" together in a unit, a herd, so that the bullies (predators) cannot isolate out one victim at a time to feed on (i.e,. to get narcissistic supply from). Often the best offense and defense is associating with a group of fair-minded, ethical, peaceful people with a common goal. It is always important to find others outside of the sphere of influence of the bullies. These people should also have your best interests at heart.

Taunting and goading is only effective if you value the opinions of bullies.

Remember that empaths out-number bullies at least 96 percent to 4 percent in the general population, so empaths can overwhelm bullies if they choose to do so.

Where this might not work is in a "bullying family", i.e. families where the bullies outnumber the empaths. Most "bullying families" are headed by a bully, who condones bullying, who often favors and trains a child or children to be co-bullies. These co-bullies then try to get other family members to comply with the vision of the head bully, who then gangs up on a family member, usually one member, an assigned family scapegoat. Alcoholic families and narcissistic families tend to be bullying families.

Many targets go "no contact" with the social network of the bullies altogether and do any of the following: avoid, circumvent, move away, disguise themselves, disguise their location, disguise their ambitions, disguise their emotions, disguise their plans, disguise their status, and lie to the bullies to throw them off base or to get them going after a phantom.

If you are in a family and being bullied and taunted by a member or members, and you are an adult, my advice is to go to a counselor who specializes in abuse and domestic violence. If you are under-age, go to the school psychologist and tell him of the situation or seek help by walking into a domestic violence center. Being with other survivors can help (CoDA or group therapy), and connections you make can help you to stay on track from going back into abusive situations. It might be good to start building a psychological wall between you and the bullies, perhaps go grey rock, or divert their attention to uncharged discussions, until you can go "no contact" or "extremely low contact". I would make every effort to keep your feelings, thoughts and movements in your life (career, friends, interests, whereabouts, etc) to yourself until you can escape the abuse. Bullying is not "natural" and should not be thought of as tolerable.

If you are being bullied by a spouse or live-in partner, I would say the first place to start in ameliorating your situation is to go to counseling. Counselors who specialize in domestic violence and/or abuse are best. A therapist can help you gauge how dangerous your situation is (there are signs to watch out for in the escalation process -- and briefly they include any unwanted touch, close range raging, intimidating body language such as making a fist when the abuser is talking, a scolding type of finger in close range, or threats to isolate you from your family or your social circle) -- more on the signs of when emotional abuse is transitioning and escalating to physical abuse, in another post.

If you are in school and being bullied and taunted, I would suggest going to the school psychologist and telling them of the incidences. If you are in college, colleges often have counselors on hand. Perhaps ask parents to intervene and find a therapist who specifically specializes in abuse. Separate yourself as much as you can from bullies. Also remember that self sabotage and "suicidal thoughts" can be a typical reaction to bullying and abuse: it is part of the "flight" reaction, i.e. your body and mind telling you to get out of the toxic, stressful situation (often when victims get free of abuse, and their abusers, their self esteem recovers and suicidal feelings begin to subside).

If you are abused at work by a bully boss or a bully co-worker, I would suggest reading these following books and websites as it can be a complicated matter. It may be better to leave, it may be better to stay, or it may be better to hire an attorney. It all depends on the mind-set and attitudes of superiors in the situation. Some superiors are educated and evolved when it comes to bullying in the workplace, and some are not.

The Bully at Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job -- by Gary Namie, PhD and Ruth Namie, PhD

Surviving Bullies, Queen Bees & Psychopaths in the Workplace -- by Patricia G. Barnes, J.D. (told from an attorney's point of view)

The Complete Guide to Understanding, Controlling, and Stopping Bullies & Bullying at Work: A Complete Guide for Managers, Supervisors, and Co-Workers -- by  Margaret R Kohut

Overcoming Mobbing: A Recovery Guide for Workplace Aggression and Bullying -- by Maureen Duffy and Len Spery

Bullyonline -- one of the first resources on the web about workplace bullying

What NOT TO DO When Being Bullied at Work -- an article by Sharilee Swaity for HubPages

Also see info-graphic at the end of this post.

If the abuser in your life expresses a desire to make up with you, realize that making up with you, saying I'm sorry or saying they realize you were important to them after all, is not real change. Warning: their overtures can be what is termed as hoovering, and often are. Real change comes from a commitment to on-going rehabilitation (i.e. giving up on bullying to solve interpersonal relationship problems altogether). This has to be done over many years with a counselor who specializes in abuse. The reason is: abuse is a habit, a very, very ingrained habit, and habits are hard to break. Putting into practice those things the therapist recommends, respecting every single one of your boundaries and respecting the boundaries of people in your life is the only "sign" you should consider as change when they are acting like they "can't live without you." Also learn about triangulation (as abusers are known to slip back into "abuse mode" by triangulating).

Begin to keep a record of abusive incidents by writing those incidents down, or recording those incidents. Keep another copy in a bank deposit box. If there are threats, contact the police, and ask them either to intervene or to keep a record.

Once victims get over the bullies in their lives, there is often a growth spurt, and better awareness of what is important in relationships.

The point is that we are all social animals and some of us are more evolved socially than others. We all need a voice, to feel that we belong, and live a life free of oppression, threat and abuse from others. Bullies, by nature, are not socially evolved people. They also are the most resistant to change. So it is important to find other socially evolved people who are on the same wave-length that you are on.

In this article Dr. Karen Siris, school principal and adjunct professor at Adelphi University weighs in on what bullying is:

We say behavior is bullying if it is repeated, continues over time, and is used to harass the same target. Teasing, name-calling, and exclusion are all bullying behaviors ...

She also has some advice on how to handle bullying:

Everyone must be aware that "kindness is cool; cruelty is not." This has to be taught in kindergarten and continue with a common vocabulary through high school.

In this Psych Central articleErika Krull, MS, LMHP states that it is in homes that bullying starts first and is allowed to grow and fester, spilling over into the school environment. She also hypothesizes that blended families (step-families) may have more issues with bullying behaviors than biological families:  

Most of the news we hear about bullying is in the school setting. This absolutely needs to be addressed, no doubt. However, I wonder if many people generally accept some level of bullying as a part of regular family life. What some people get away with in their own homes may not be tolerated if their child was reporting the problem as coming from school.

I know that family bullying is more difficult to deal with because the situations often occur in private homes. Physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse – it’s all bullying ...

Bullying attitudes and actions often originate, or are allowed to develop, in the family. In many cases, a step-family has more opportunities for tension and competition between siblings for attention and acceptance. This certainly isn’t the case in all step-families, but the risk does exist because some sort of loss, pain, or displacement frequently comes with the deal. A family member who doesn’t handle this well may turn to bullying to feel some sense of control or power.

Just focusing on school bullying gets you about two or three steps past a more impactful starting point. However, this point is also far less accessible ...

... Every family needs to be watchful of potential bullying under their roof – 100% biological, adoptive, foster, half-siblings, whatever ...

Bullying is often perpetrated on children who are different, whether physically, emotionally, intellectually or verbally challenged. In addition, insecure children who are brought up in abusive homes who exhibit PTSD, can also be targets of bullies (because PTSD creates the urge to isolate, to protect oneself by "keeping low", and also produces depression and amygdala hijacking, making learning, concentrating and memorization extremely difficult resulting in an intellectually challenged child).

So how do you help your challenged or disabled child handle bullying and bullies?

In this Psych Central article about the intellectually challenged child, Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D. has some words to say about what to expect when your child goes off to school as well as some tips on how to inoculate your child against bullying and low self esteem:

Such verbal abuse is what kids with disabilities live with day after day. “Re-tard.” “What are you – retarded?” “That’s a retarded thing to say – do – be.” The R-word has become part of the teen vocabulary. It’s in rap songs. It’s on TV. Search YouTube for “retardation” and most of what you’ll find is people doing idiotic things that result in injury. It’s so prevalent in the culture that kids use it nonchalantly to mean anything they find beneath them. Even adults fail to hear it for what it is – the ultimate putdown, the statement that people with cognitive challenges are somehow less, somehow deserving of disrespect.

In professional circles, the official label has changed in the last few years from “mentally retarded” to “intellectually disabled” (ID). It’s an improvement. It speaks more clearly to what the challenge truly is. But it’s only the latest in centuries of attempts to come up with a neutral term. “Cretin.” “Feeble-minded.” “Idiot.” “Moron.” “Imbecile.” Each began as simply a descriptor and became an insult. Each in turn was used first by adults, then by their children, as a way to say “I’m better than you are.”

Kids with intellectual disability are particularly vulnerable to being victimized. They tend to be gullible and don’t understand when they are being manipulated ... 

... Don’t fool yourself. If your child is different, he is going to be the butt of taunts, jokes, looks and eye-rolls.

Part of solving the bullying problem is to educate as many people as possible about what bullying looks like, what it sounds like, why it doesn't work in any relationship over the long run, what it does to victims, what it does to perpetrators, and what it does to by-standers. Bullying reduces the quality of life for both perpetrators and victims, and also shortens lives. There is no good that comes of it. Teaching kids how to co-operate instead of bully should start early, before it starts to be ingrained in a child's personality.

Don't play favorites with your children (if you are a parent) or your pupils (if you are a teacher). Favoritized children run more of a risk of becoming a bully (or even a criminal) than children who are treated with fair and equal treatment (for more on this subject see my post on favoritism in the family).

Bullying is debased. We can do better as a species.

From Innovative Teaching Ideasthe info-graphic I talked about in this post:

Source unknown (found on Pinterest under Etsy)
quote by H. Milne P:

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