I'm Being Bullied - What Can I Do?

Dear REAP Team,

When I get bullied at school, I feel like I should yell or fight back, but I know that's not what God would want me to do. So what DO I do? Do I sit and take it?


Dear Friend,

First of all, I want to thank you for writing us.  You are clearly going through a difficult time and are experiencing a lot of hurt right now.    What is going on between you and the bullies isn’t right!  I, too, have had many experiences with people who would verbally attack me and make me feel worthless.  What I didn’t realize at the time is that I had several choices I could have made to improve my situation and I want to share them with you.

Wanting to stand up for yourself is a natural response - and is, in fact, appropriate.  Look at Matthew 23, where Jesus stands up for Himself: the Pharisees bullied Him from the beginning of His ministry till the end, but He didn’t always “turn the other cheek.”  Scripture shows that Jesus was very honest when dealing with the Pharisees.  He regularly called them out on their poor interpretations of religion and bullying of others.  In a nutshell, He called their bluff and pointed out that they were doing wrong.  If you find yourself in a challenging situation with the bullies it would not be wrong to tell them to stop picking on you, that what they are doing is wrong, and to ask to be either left alone or treated more kindly.

As you probably know, to let someone continually bring you down can have negative effects on your emotional health.  You wouldn’t go into battle without armor, would you?  That would make you defenseless and vulnerable.  Consider talking to a school counselor about what kind of armor you need when dealing with the bullies.  A counselor has a lot of tools to help deflect the negative comments of bullies and help preserve your mental and emotional health.

In my experience, I did not have armor to help deflect the bully’s negative comments, and in turn I had a damaged self-esteem.  Hearing the same insults over and over for a long time led me to believe them.  If you let something keep repeating, like a broken record in your life, it will end up in your mind, and become true to you.  For several years, bullies would taunt me about my body and looks.  It was nonstop, like that broken record.  My bullies’ voices replayed in my mind years after leaving school and I believed them.  After so long, it was true to me.  My heart was broken I felt and thought I was worthless, unlovable.  My self esteem was fragile.  It only took seeing pictures of the bullies to send me into tears.  I did the only thing I could think of was to change myself so the bullies couldn’t pick on me anymore.  I turned to hurting myself with anorexia and bulimia.  It ruined my relationship with God and really hurt the young man I was dating at that time.     

Just like me, many teenagers find themselves without their own armor and instead to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like cutting or excessive drinking to take away the pains bullies have caused.  The best way to avoid these unhealthy coping mechanisms is to deflect the negativity in the first place.  I later learned to tell myself how wonderfully I am made and how beautiful I am.  I learned to listen to God tell me the same things.  I learned to accept compliments from others – and believe them!  Shortly after learning these statements, and repeating them to myself constantly, I learned that the bullies’ words were lies - and I now know the truth of who I am.  For more on restoring self-esteem, pleases read this great article on our website, written by a youth minister and professional counselor – 

Something else to consider is talking with a trusted school official.  Do you have a teacher or coach you feel comfortable sharing this with?  They may have to be the ones who instill change in the bullies.  If you are feeling uncertain about talking with an adult at school, keep in mind that you (and others at your school – I suspect you are not the only one being bullied) deserve a safe learning environment and that includes freedom from verbal harassment and abuse.  A teacher may just be the one to change the bullies.  Additionally, it is very important that you share what is happening with your parents.  I am confident that they do not want your senior year of high school to be anything but awesome.  Their backing and support may help you feel much better about the situation.  They may also be able to get a school official working on some anti-bullying projects.  And they can help you to get into counseling, which I highly recommend to restore any damage to your self-esteem.

Another thought that comes to mind when I think about bullying is that damaged people often hurt other people.  These bullies probably are attacking you and others to build up their own self-esteem or help them forget the hurt they are dealing with at home.  Bullying is very much a learned behavior and your peers are possibly bullied by older siblings or parents and therefore they think it is okay to do so to you.  I would challenge you to pray for them, asking God to forgive them, because they may not really know what how much harm they are doing to you and to others.

Lastly, I want to leave you with a few Bible passages that I’d recommend you look up and pray through – John 20:21 and John 15:18.  Remember one of the Beatitudes as well when you need some hope:  “Blessed are the persecuted, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”  You are in my prayers.



Angie, a REAP Team Member