Month 5: Bullies Demand Loyalty
(Bullying Awareness Series Part 2)
As an advocate for women and girls—every month leading up to October I will add one identifiable characteristic of a bully that often gets over looked. This month is “Misuse of Loyalty”.
A bully enlists and utilizes loyalty for
their own benefit. In fact, you may hear the word loyalty quite often in a bully’s vocabulary. It may be concealed in phrases or questions designed to establish a sense of camaraderie, “are you with me?”, “can I count on you?”, “do I have your support?” Either way with a bully there is an ulterior agenda—a binding of loyalty against something or someone.
The dictionary describes loyalty as faithful adherence. Because of its favorable connotation we naturally think of loyalty in a positive light. But for the bully it’s far from altruistic. Loyalty to them is simply a means to an end. Any deviation from faithful adherence is seen as an affront.
A bully uses several methods of manipulations to gain loyalties. The most common being an offering of favor or acceptance. Not only does it feels good not to be on the bad side of a bully’s reproach, but there are tempting benefits too. If it’s in the school lunch room it might be an invitation to sit at the cool table. If it’s in the work place it might be the carrot of advancement. If it’s in a social setting it might be the allure of recognition. If it’s the home it might be the peace and calm that comes from non-confrontation. The thought of being considered “disloyal” is too risky of a challenge for many. A bully can build quite a submissive following with this one maneuver.
Another way bullies gain loyalty is blackmail. Not the obvious kind with threats scrawled on mysterious notes, but in small ways like hints of exposure to shame. The bully is skilled at finding and holding misgivings over the people they influence.
Additionally, bullies operate by promoting an exaggerated sense of loyalty they possess. They act as their own publicist touting inflated stories of support by others. This in turn influences a going along with the crowd mentality. No one wants to be the naysayer or noticeable cog in the wheel of a seemingly united front.
In summary, exposing loyalty manipulation may help shed a light on how bullying takes shape in a community. Identifying the misuse is a good place to start. If you can answer yes to any of the following questions there may be in an environment of bullying.
- Have you felt an onslaught of favor or buttering-up in a effort to win your loyalties?
2. Have you felt pressured into a group’s mentality against someone or something or someone?
3. Have you feared retribution for not being loyal to someone’s agenda?
Combating bullying happens by becoming familiar with these and other signs. You can help by refusing to be swept into a bully’s manipulations. By not going along with the crowd when you see these signs happening—you will be slowing down the momentum of loyalty that keeps a bully in power.