Profile of a Victim
The most powerful teaching method is called mirroring. Sometimes parents, themselves, are actually victims, or feel victimized, and act that way. They talk about how they have been taken advantage of, how things are not fair, and how they have been bullied.All kids mimic what their parents do. Therefore, they sometimes mimic their parents’ victim posture. The child adopts a hopeless/helpless attitude. In this way the parent unconsciously signals to the child, and the child signals to a group, and especially to a bully, that they are easy prey.Sometimes a mom is actually being bullied by the dad. A young girl may identify with the mother, and act as a victim.Another variation is that the child is being bullied by a parent, grandparent, sibling, or other family member. In this case the child is a victim at home and may become targeted at school as well.
An “AHA” Moment
I commented to Jenn, a senior in high school, that all her friends were bullies. I asked who bullied at home? Suddenly the “a ha” occurred; as Jenn realized that she was acting like her father, who never defends himself, and always gives into mom. Why? Because mom is so intimidating; especially when she is challenged or angry.
Who is bullied?
The typical victim is someone whose physical attributes are different from the larger group. Classically, small or short people are bullied. However, victims come in all shapes and sizes; the tall, gentle giant; the fat or skinny person; the person with red hair. People whose skin color or tone is different, who have pimples or are exceptionally beautiful; may all be victimized. The essential characteristic is that victims are DIFFERENT in some physical aspect, when compared to their peers.
Victims often send non-verbal cues that are immediately read by others. It is not hard to detect the cues that someone is intimidated or frightened. Think about a dog; their ears, eyes and tail all go down when they are fearful. People communicate fear as well, via a look, blushing, sweating, trembling, a crack in their voice, avoiding eye contact, shrinking or trying to be small or blend in. The more fearful you seem, the more likely you are to be victimized.
Some people are not aware of the message they are sending; some are aware but try to deny it.Sometimes people actually want to send the cue that they are different, by dressing in a manner that brings negative attention. Some people invite victimization.
The Psychological Profile of a Victim
Victims often are…
Pleasers: victims NEED to PLEASE and will do whatever it takes to be accepted; including being abused, humiliated, or bullied.
Compliant: victims like to FOLLOW the RULES, not make waves, make sure they do not get in trouble with any authority figure.
Afraid: victims are afraid; often fearful of many things, but especially AFRAID OF CONFRONTATION. Any sort of conflict makes them miserable.
Avoidant: victims avoid eye contact; they AVOID NEW or UNCOMFY situations; they have difficulty adapting and therefore try to keep things familiar.
Perfectionists: victims TRY to be PERFECT in every way. They may rehearse what they will say in order to make sure that they are not making a mistake.
Very Sensitive: victims may be TOO SENSITIVE, aware of every nuance, and may misinterpret words or cues. They are NOT RESILIENT, not able to let things roll off.
Socially Isolated: victims may have few friends, no group to hang out with. They may be SOCIALLY AWKWARD.
Shy and Quiet: victims may have SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER which means that they are painfully shy or anxious in social situations; to the degree that it impairs their ability to function.
Language Problems: victims often have TROUBLE TALKING because they have problems remembering words, have a shallow amount of information to share, or because they have an undiagnosed language impairment which inhibits their ability to express themselves.
Depressed: victims are often VERY UNHAPPY. They may have been depressed before the bullying started, and then they become more depressed as a result of the bullying.