As South Africa commemorates the annual 16 days of activism campaign which serves as a rallying call to galvanise efforts in the fight against gender-based violence, Fidelity ADT managers have used this opportunity to speak about bullying, and violence and abuse against women.
Linda Goodenough, Community Development Manager for Fidelity ADT addressed a community gathering recently focusing specifically on adult bullying. “The average thought that comes to mind is bullying is for children, but the reality is bullying doesn’t have an age, a colour or a gender and adult bullying is way more prevalent than one imagines,” says Goodenough.
The outcomes of the bullying can be equally as severe for adults as it can for children, including feelings of anxiety, fear, depression and lowered confidence and self-esteem. She says adult bullying often happens in our personal safe space. “If it is not at home, it is at the work place or amongst friends. It is very often someone you know and in most cases someone who you actually love or who proclaims to love you to or be friends with you. The ripple effect of adult bullying often goes all the way down to children who are not oblivious to what is happening but seldom are able to verbalise their concerns.”
Adult bullies may use strategies such as intimidation, exclusion, and harassment, but can also use more subtle techniques which are difficult to expose. “The important thing to remember,” says Goodenough, “is that when dealing with these bullies you need to realise that it is not about you, and that you have done nothing wrong.”
She says bullying can include insults, jealousy, sexual harassment, pressure for sex, humiliation and degradation in public, controlling and manipulative behaviour in terms of dress and friend groups and even stalking to monitor your movements.
Goodenough says women need to recognise this abuse and bring it out of the dark into the light. “If it is not reported, it stays in the dark,” she says.
She says victims of bullying commonly feel helpless, embarrassed and humiliated, scared, weak and vulnerable. “Now is the time to stop it and stop it quickly. There are a number of church and community support groups and national helplines like Lifeline which can see you through your darkest time. It is never too late to start afresh, to link up with some caring, positive friends and begin your healing,” she concludes.