Mentoring Monday: Bullies! Perspective Gained from a Victim

Lila* was a stocky girl from the poor side of town. Shy and a loner, she made the perfect target, especially for Heather*.

After months of tormenting Lila with minor pranks and hateful remarks, Heather and her clique followed Lila from their high school. When Lila neared the corner of a busy street, Heather and the others shoved Lila into oncoming traffic.




Lila managed to shift so that the nearest car didn’t hit her. She swung around, using her backpack as a counterweight to regain her balance. Because they stood right behind her, Lila’s backpack hit each girl in the face. It was an accident, but it also saved Lila. Because the girls were distracted by their bloody lips, Lila was able to escape and run to safety.

It could have been murder. Every girl who pushed Lila would have been murderers if the car had hit her, all because they followed Heather’s twisted leadership.

Lila wasn’t harmed, at least physically. But she was terrified. Worse, after the incident, the two families had a meeting. Lila was partially blamed by her own parents for the traffic incident, despite the testimony of witnesses. Lila’s parents refused to stand up for their own daughter because Heather was from a prominent family. A local conflict with Heather’s family might have ruined Lila’s parent’s business.

Because no one intervened on Lila’s behalf, she was left to defend herself from Heather’s continued torment. Lila learned to avoid Heather and her friends, but inside, Lila’s emotional wounds took years to heal.

Mentoring a A Bullied Teen

Lila has come a long way since her tormented childhood. As an adult, she has dedicated her life to helping troubled teens overcome difficult situations like bullying. The following are some of the perspectives she shared with me about her experience with bullies:

  • The bully is often a victim elsewhere. When Lila encountered Heather’s family, it was obvious Heather lived under an abusive father. She was passing on what she had learned at home.
  • A bully often strikes out at others to feel empowered. Heather had probably chosen Lila as a target, not because of something Lila had done, but because she was an easy target–one who would help Heather feel more empowered.
  • Retaliation doesn’t gain a victim anything but guilt. (Not the same as self-defense). Lila felt terrible about hitting the other girls with her backpack, but she recognized her actions were self-defense, not intentional. Though her self-defense was accidental (and necessary), it did not feed anything positive in Lila’s heart. It only left her feeling sad that she had been forced into such an ugly situation.
  • A bully might need as much counseling as the victim. Heather was abused by her father. Her reaction to the abuse was to lash out and control others, as she did with Lila. Heather needed as much help as Lila. Perhaps a good counselor would have helped Heather understand her own emotional pain could have changed the situation long before Heather deteriorated to the point of attempting to kill someone.
  • Understanding where the tormentor is coming from can help with emotional recovery. Once Lila understood Heather’s tormented home life, it helped Lila to understand the bullying wasn’t as personal as it seemed. Though the two never became friends, but Lila grew in compassion for Heather. This didn’t excuse Heather’s actions, but helped Lila overcome some of her emotional wounds.
  • A victim needs people willing to stand up for them. If Lila’s parents had come to her defense in the beginning of the bullying, perhaps the traffic incident wouldn’t have happened. But no one, not even the school personnel, wanted to stand up to Heather’s family. Because of what happened to her, Lila has spent her adult life, in part, being an advocate of others and helping victims work through the pain of abusive/bullying situations.
  • Gain a greater perspective on life. Be involved elsewhere. Sometimes a bad situation doesn’t change, but knowing the world is a bigger place than high school, or the local neighborhood, can help in overcoming the pain of bullying. Volunteering, becoming involved with other groups, churches, sports, or clubs can get a person out of their negative surroundings and give them friendships and connections elsewhere. This perspective can help victims move past the tormentors in their school lives.

What are your thoughts on mentoring a teen who has been bullied?

*no real names were used
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2 thoughts on “Mentoring Monday: Bullies! Perspective Gained from a Victim”

  1. Such a fabulous post. I too was bullied as a teen and even now at 50 this post is helpful. I was such a shy kid – I thought I had been singled out because I was a loser from a loser family. I did make it my life’s goal to prove the bully and her clique wrong. I think I succeeded. It took my years before I realized perhaps things weren’t so great in the bully’s household. The part that surprised me though was that the bully and her sister terrorized our entire neighborhood and none of us banded together and that former friends banded with the bully so quickly.

  2. As a for person who has been bullied, I know what it is like. I have not encountered this before but, This is an eye opener for those who have been bullied and what we need to stand up for! those who are being bullied.

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