• bul·ly /ˈbo͝olē/ verb; gerund or present participle: bullying is to “seek to harm, intimidate, or coerce (someone perceived as vulnerable).
  • I’ve never been all that susceptible to bullying. There have been times that I felt bullied or pushed by various people in a variety of contexts; however, I wasn’t aware of it in the moment. The feelings in the aftermath were, as expected, a deep sense of betrayal and insecurity and rage.

    I think sometimes it is easy to utilize intimidation or coercion because it’s not easy to spot and those susceptible are unlikely to say something. I think sometimes people bully others because they were bullied and it worked. I think sometimes people who are desperate are more likely to bully because they will try anything. I think it is easier to bully on social media because there’s no eye contact, no person to see. I think women are bullies in a different way than men — a man or a boy would punch someone or otherwise interact physically; women, on the other hand are much more likely to be bullies in an emotional way, generally.

    I think there is a lot of bullying in the breast cancer community, particularly the metastatic community.

    And that sucks.

    I have a strong personality and when I get pushy, I know that it can be perceived as bullying. I don’t always see how my words or actions affect others. Because I am less susceptible to being bullied, I don’t always see the fact that others are different, that being pushy could be interpreted as bullying. I try to check myself and I’ve asked people around me to tell me if I’ve crossed the line.

    I give free reign to anyone reading this post to call me out if you think I have or am bullying someone!

    Also, I’m all for speaking truth to power and dismantling the patriarchy. I think speaking truth in a forceful or different way is not a bad thing. I think being passionate and calling out organizations who are doing something wrong is incumbent on all of us. I think speaking up about disparities, whether based on gender, race or something else, is required of good people.

    Yet, what I often see happening in the breast cancer community is that we react and shoot off a response or message quickly without thinking things through sufficiently. I also think that we’re often scared out of our minds, in pain, not able to sleep and that means our reactions are not always kind.

    When I was actively practicing law, my area of focus was family law. That meant I was at the heart of many divorces all day long every day. Those divorcing people needed to interact, especially if kiddos were involved, and I spent a lot of time coaching various people on how to interact given the fact that an email or text or voice mail or social media posts were likely to be entered into evidence.

    The advice I dispensed most often was this ….

    Picture someone you trust, you respect, you know can hurt you if they get mad. A boss maybe. A parent. A best friend. Once you have that person’s face or mannerisms or role fixed in your mind, then respond.

    Think about it, what do you do when you are communicating with someone you respect?

    • You give them the benefit of the doubt.
    • You assume the best.
    • You couch your words carefully to avoid causing offense.
    • You use professional language.
    • You check your grammar and punctuation.
    • You read the message more than once.

    This is what we all need to be doing. There is so much division within the breast cancer community. I feel it on a visceral level. I’m just as guilty as others in terms of not always reaching for consensus, for not looking for the common ground, for not giving the benefit of the doubt.

    Think what we could do together if we did.

    26 thoughts on “Bullying

    1. Social media bullying is the worst. People have no mercy, not sure how they can fix that but its definitely a problem.

      I don’t think speaking up for yourself or speaking out on matters that Bother or affect you are bullying. If so, then call me a bully! I do it all the time and I imagine I will never stop. I try to be on the right side of history.

      I don’t have breast cancer so I can’t speak on the matter. I can’t imagine what you have to deal with. However this is very dear to me because it affected my best friend Heather.

      I say speak however you feel you need to. People outside looking in don’t know you’re frame of mind. I imagine it’s frustrating and sometimes scary.

      I support you 100%. People can be mean and often don’t think before they speak. However most people are forgiving.

      Have a wonderful blessed day

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I’ve felt this way for a long time about the MBC Community since I was diagnosed in 2013. I do think it’s getting better but still has a ways to go. Thank you for reminding us to be kind to one another💕

      Liked by 2 people

    3. I find a lot of bullying in many FB cancer support groups. I don’t know why there is so much judgment or cattiness, but it needs to stop. I’ve left two groups this year because of it. I have enough going on that’s stressful. I refuse to let other survivors’ hurtful words add to my stress.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I find it horribly sad. I do believe that the bullying behavior comes from the fact that we’re all terminal and living with that reality has a lot of valleys. Hurt people do indeed hurt people. Thank you for reading and commenting!


    4. Bullying is such a disturbing form of harassment. People can be especially mean on social media. Like you mentioned, the anonymity doesn’t allow them to see how their words truly hurt people. That’s why I’ve completed removed myself from it.
      I always try to keep in mind James 1:19 which reminds me to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. That way I can make adjustments to avoid offending others. It’s great that you’re concerned about how your words and actions affect others. If more people were like you the world would be a more peaceful and loving place.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We can all make an effort and call it out when we see it. I’m trying to do that, trying to create a safe space for women who face the same diagnosis and I do. It’s not simple. Thank you for reading and commenting!! Love and light to you.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You’re right. You are to be commended. All women, especially those dealing with cancer, need a safe space. God doesn’t like bullying (Romans 12:18) and we all should stand up for those that are unable to stand up for themselves. 😊

          Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for sharing this very good article! I noticed this quote: “ Female bullies more typically use such tactics as social exclusion and spreading rumors. However, increasing numbers seem to be resorting to physical violence as well.” This is exactly what I was talking about.


    5. I read your article there, and one line stuck out to me, where you say that you had a strong personality and were being pushy. Many are strong and some are pushy sometimes. Being strong or pushy doesn’t make a bully. Most salespeople are strong and or pushy. And most salespeople will , eventually, accept the word, “No”. With the bully, that strong personality and that being pushy is only bullying when it is combined with persistence and continued action. Being strong and or pushy once or twice doesn’t totally equate to bullying. The bullying starts when a person targets a specific individual, and then consistently and constantly targets the same person, for the same reasons etc. And sometimes this persistence can last weeks or months or even, in extreme cases, years or decades. Lots of bullying, also, combines with stalking. So, generally for the most part, it is very easy to distinguish a bully from a strong person, or even from a person that might sometimes be pushy. Most average people or normal people when told, “no”, or “stop it” will pay attention to that. But the bully persists, and persists. So, key, in deciphering if a person is a bully. Has the victim, the target or survivor said, “No”, and has the ‘bully’ persisted anyway? I hope this isn’t too long a note. No offense if you delete it. Peace. artfromperry

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is a great distinction! I think people confuse strong personalities with bullying because bullying is such a buzz word. It definitely stops people in their tracks! Thank you for reading and commenting!


    6. I saw this post in Reader and I want to thank you for posting. I was a target of bullying in school and I remember how much it hurt. And you’re so on point because although I was a target, I became a bully later in high school because, well, “it worked”. It gave my back some of the power I’d lost…or I thought it did, anyway.
      Luckily, I learned that you don’t have to be a bully to take back your power.
      Great article, Abigail!

      Liked by 1 person

    7. I think the words Bullying and Hater are often over used. I also think many people with valuable opinions shy away from expressing opinions because of being called either of these words. We have to figure out how to express our honest opinions without bullying others or being perceived to hate. I, too, have a strong personality and am not often bullied. I’m also an extravert and so need to step back before I speak my truth.

      Liked by 1 person

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

    Connecting to %s