When your BFF is your BULLY
movies and TV shows always depict that stereotypical mean girl who everyone can see is a total b*tch from a mile away. But IRL it often isn’t so easy to spot the mean girl – sometimes she hides in plain sight. Sometimes she’s even your best friend. In fact, teenage expert and founder of Standing Strong (girlsstandingstrong.com, a wellness club for girls), Kim Smith, explains that most cases of bullying occur between friendship groups, rather than random outsiders, “especially in close friendships. It’s very easy for harmless jokes or ongoing mucking around to turn into hurtful bullying.”
When I told our other friend Helena, she pointed out that Sammy always bosses me around and that I just do everything she says and that she makes fun of me all the time and that I never say anything. When Helena said this, I realised it had been going on for years. I’ve always felt like I have to go along with the jokes Sammy makes about me, even though they hurt or embarrass me, coz I didn’t want to lose her as a friend.”
Chelsea’s story is very familiar to Kim, who has heard the same sort of thing from hundreds of girls. She explains, “With girls there can be a lot of ‘mind games’ with small, mean comments and behaviour over a long period of time. It can also be ‘indirect’, where the girl being bullied knows she feels uncomfortable but isn’t sure if she’s being bullied or not as it’s very subtle.”
This explains why Chelsea didn’t see the signs herself.
Sometimes, even when we do recognise that a friend is bullying us, we ignore it. There are several reasons this happens; no one likes to think their friend would treat them like that so they often let it slide. Or we think that teasing is a normal part of friendships – which is true if it’s harmless banter, but if it’s hurtful, then it’s not OK.
In most cases, Kim has found that girls are worried if they say anything they will be kicked out of the group and have no friends. To this Kim says, “Nothing is worth crushing your confidence and self-esteem. I guarantee if you step away from your bully friend, it won’t take long until a new, better and kinder person takes her place.”
If this sounds familiar, remember, friends are supposed to be there to help make things easier, not harder. If your friend does not accept and love you for who you are, and is constantly putting you down and making you feel bad about yourself, then they are not a friend. Sometimes, you have to be your own best friend and stand up or yourself.
Your bestie is meant to be your biggest supporter, but what happens when she’s the one tearing you down?
Nothing is worth crushing your confidence and self-esteem. I guarantee if you step away from your bully friend, it won’t take long until a new, better and kinder person takes her place.