Bullying and the Fight or Flight Response

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upshot of attacker with his foot raised to stomp you

Bullying and the fight or flight response go hand in hand.

According to the Psychology Tools website, “The fight or flight response is an automatic physiological reaction to an event that is perceived as stressful or frightening. The perception of threat activates the sympathetic nervous system and triggers an acute stress response that prepares the body to fight or flee. These responses are evolutionary adaptations to increase chances of survival in threatening situations.” ( https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/fight-or-flight-response/ )

Any time bullies target a person with relentless bullying at work or school over an extended period of time, they force that person into a constant state of high alert. Although useful in short, immediate circumstances, this hyper-vigilance is unhealthy if the person remains in this state for too long, causing stomach issues, headaches, and fatigue, among many other ailments.

Even worse, facing continuous danger can also cause the person to overreact in response to certain occurrences.

The Fight or Flight Response is Innate. Every Creature on earth has it.

Every living creature has an innate and perfectly natural physiological reaction in the event of a threat or attack. Called the Fight or Flight Response, it protects us from harm in dangerous situations through the release of adrenaline. When adrenaline is released into the blood, it’s next to impossible not to do either of two things- fight or flee.

Fight or Flight sign showing a man with fists raised and another running away

When others are consistently bullying and abusing you during school or anywhere, escape is usually not an option. Your bullies will corner, surround, or back you into a wall or some other large object. With flight cut off to you as an option, what do you have left? Fight! Long-term bullying can cause a person to live on this adrenaline every day, all day long. All your aggressors have to do is to come around you and they can put your body and mind on constant alert. It’s a horrible way to live.

Getting on the school bus and walking through the entrance to the school can feel like a death march. Moreover, horrible headaches and violent nausea will plague many targets.

Here is an excerpt on the subject from my book:

“I recall an afternoon in English class when my mouth and eyes began to water. I swallowed hard to control my gag reflexes as I approached the teacher’s desk to ask to be excused to the bathroom.

‘What do you want?’ Mrs. Caraway asked rudely.
‘I don’t feel good.’ I replied.

Without a word, she gave me the hall pass, and I scurried my way to the girls’ room, I barely made it to the first stall before launching a stream of the bitterest, most horrible tasting green liquid into the toilet.

man balled up in a corner with the words, claustrophobia, stress, panic, depression, anxiety, and fear on the wall behind him

A long series of dry heaves followed, which were quite painful. Instead of making me feel better, the vomiting only did the opposite, and my headache became next to unbearable.

I’ll never forget the sound of the bathroom door as it flung open and the teacher stormed in, demanding to know why I was taking so long. I began to cry and, in between gags and wretches, pleaded with her to let me go to the office and call my grandmother….”

She accused me of making myself vomit so that I could go home early.

targets live in a constant state of survival mode.

Even teachers can join the other kids against you once they hear enough rumors and falsehoods bullies spread about you. This can place you in a very lonely and heartbreaking position.

As time goes on, the fear of going to school and having to face their megalomaniac classmates grows. It’d like an infected tumor that grows bigger with each passing day. A target’s stomach draws up every morning when they set foot on a school bus.

The next eight hours are like walking through a minefield, never knowing when your next step could mean BOOM! Others begin hitting, shoving, kicking, or bombarding the target with a torrent of taunts, insults, and names. It is a situation they see no end to, and to say that they are afraid is an understatement. Targets are petrified.

Fenced off field with sign on fence warning of mines

Most never think of the magnitude of fear the target must live with. Also, they don’t think of the health consequences of living in that perpetual state of fight or flight. The impact on the target’s physical health may not show up right away. However, it may rear its ugly head later in life.

But this doesn’t only happen in school; it happens in the workplace also. What people once believed to only happen to school-aged people also happens to adults in the workplace. Bullying knows no age group.

authority figures usually blame targets for defending themselves.

Many targets get into serious trouble when the bullying finally escalates and becomes physical. Every day, school staff unjustly suspend or expel innocent targets are unjustly from school for exercising their rights to self-defense.  Moreover, managers in the workplace terminate bullying targets from work because bullies force them into fight mode to defend themselves.

Bullies have a real flair for charming and seducing supervisors, managers, teachers, and staff. They lie very convincingly and making the target look like the aggressor. Targets are often severely punished for nothing more than trying to protect themselves. Whereas, bullies are either given a slap on the wrist or escape with complete impunity. In short, the target has no support whatsoever!

School staff and workplace management should know well that, just like all God’s creatures, bullying targets have this fight or flight instinct. Therefore, they have the right to defend themselves if running is not an option.

Cornered dog feeling threatened and getting ready to bite you

And when bullies are attacking the target left and right and you have no support, it’s left solely up to them to take care of themselves in bullying situations.

It’s only natural that if you corner a dog and kick it enough times, sooner or later, you’ll get bit!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

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