This came take many forms and is designed to undermine a person and has a major impact on their well being, dignity and self-esteem. Overtime, a person will lose confidence and lose clarity on what is right. It may not always be another student that is causing this abuse – it can be a teacher or another person in authority who causes this form of abuse. It can include such things as:
- Telling someone repeatedly that they are useless, weak or will be unsuccessful
- Being rude, critical, belittling or demeaning about a person on a regular basis
- Constantly challenging a person’s beliefs
- Putting down a person because of their academic or sporting achievements/failures
- Acting in an intimidating or aggressive way to a person
- Deliberately and intentionally ignoring a person
How to help a friend
This form of abuse can often leave people with high levels of stress, withdrawing from activities and with depression. It is important to
- support your friend and help them understand the situation so that they can restore their confidence and well-being – it is not their fault and they are not responsible for the abusers behaviour
- help them work out how to address this situation – some ideas include:
- helping your friend to plan a conversation with the abuser about their behaviour – this is not always useful so discuss possible outcomes from this approach before proceeding
- it could mean that your friend avoids meeting with the abuser in a one-on-one situation (it can be quite easy to find a reason for a friend to come along)
- helping your friend to develop a long term plan. This can mean that it is easier to live with the psychological abuse in the short term knowing that their is plan to get out in the long term.
- be someone that your friend can debrief with – this can be very therapeutic
- encourage your friend to seek professional help to manage this psychological abuse. If it has been long term, this will be important.