9 Ways People on the Spectrum Can Deal with Bullying

Bullying is a very real and incredibly sad aspect of our society. Anti-bullying measures have helped, to a degree, but kids, teens, and even adults are still far too commonly abused by their peers. Nearly a fourth of students report having been bullied in the last school year (22 percent).

If you are on the autism spectrum, that statistic rises significantly. Some estimates indicate that over 60 percent of kids on the spectrum are bullied!

So if you are one of them, realize you are not alone and that there is help and hope. Just for you, we’ve compiled some tips for handling bullies, dealing with the hurt they inflict, and even preventing future bullying situations. Whether you’re a kid encountering your bullies on the playground or an adult facing harassment at the workplace, we hope you find these tips useful!

Unhappy Girl Being Gossiped About By School Friends In Classroom

9. Tell someone

If you’re being bullied, tell someone. Whether it’s your parents, your teacher, another relative, or your boss, don’t stay silent. You have every right to feel safe and accepted at school, work, or anywhere else.

Lots of bullies try to silence their victims by accusing them of being a “tattle-tale.” Don’t listen to them; tell someone anyway. Of course your bully will be unhappy you’re telling someone in authority—they want to continue being mean to you without experiencing any consequence for their actions, and reporting their bad behavior will force them to take responsibility.

8. Don’t give them the reaction they want

Here’s a secret about bullies: they usually only pick on someone who will react or be upset or scared. If you act like their behavior doesn’t bother you, eventually they will realize you’re not that fun to pick on and stop. Maybe that means you will totally ignore them or respond in a confident way that will surprise them.

But of course, that’s easier said than done. Bullies say and do incredibly hurtful things, which makes it only natural to react in a way that will give them power. So here are some solid, concrete things you can do instead:

  • Temporarily prevent yourself from crying by sucking on the roof of your mouth and pinching the skin between your thumb and index finger hard. I used to cry a lot in school and found this really helped.
  • Say one of these things that STOMP Out Bullying suggests:
    “I’m not sure why you keep saying these things about me, but I don’t care.”
    “Here we go again. This is boring. Let me know when you’re done.”
    “Are you done? Do you feel better now?”
    “Pardon me, but you seem to think that I care.”
  • Say something nice in response to a mean comment. This can be really hard, but responding to cruelty with goodness can actually be very effective—it will not only surprise the bully, but it may make them realize what they’re doing to you and be ashamed of it.
  • If the thought of not reacting seems impossible, just try to react less than you did last time.
  • Walk away—especially after giving the bully a confident comeback like the ones above, this is one of the most powerful things you can do!

7. Surround yourself with friends

In addition to picking on people who will react, bullies also tend to target people who are alone. For that reason, surrounding yourself with friends can be an effective way to protect yourself.

Guys skateboarders in street

Don’t have friends? One of the best ways to make them is to get to know people with similar interests as you. If you can’t get enough books about tornados or sharks or whatever your special interest is, try joining a reading group. If you love to make art, join an art group. If jamming out to music is more your thing, try joining your school’s band or orchestra, or find another music group.

If that doesn’t work out for you, find someone in the bullying environment who has been nice to you—or at the very least not mean to you. Do and say nice things to them (here’s a good place to start: briefly smile and say “hi” as you walk past them in the hallway or the break room). If there’s a chance you’ll cross paths with your bully, ask if you can walk with them. Who knows? That person might become a friend!

Go to the next page to learn what I REALLY want you to take from this article.

6. Get support from people who care

If you are ages 13-24, STOMP Out Bullying has an online HelpChat Line for you. They are available mostly in the evenings (EST) if you need to talk to someone for help and support but don’t want to get on the phone. It’s also free and confidential.

If you are not these ages, you can find online support in different areas, such as chat rooms and forums. Try to look for one specifically devoted to bullying victims. There, you will be surrounded by people who care and understand what you’re going through!

5. Remember you are awesome

Friend, if there’s one thing I want you to remember from this article, it’s this: you are amazing, valuable, and loved more than you could imagine. Don’t ever let the bullies change who you are or make you think that is not true. Picture me saying that to you Lion King style, in a booming voice with my face rolling out of the clouds. That is how serious I am.

Close up portrait of a handsome young man smiling with copy space

Other things to remember:

  • It is not your fault you are being bullied.
  • Continue being the awesome person you are and always have been.
  • It is not your fault you are being bullied.
  • Don’t let them stop you from doing the things that make you happy.
  • It is not your fault you are being bullied.
  • The world would be a sad place without you and the unique person you are.
  • It is not your fault you are being bullied. (I can’t say it enough!)

4. Recognize why bullies do what they do

It can be hard to empathize with people who have caused you pain. But the reality is, people are hardly ever mean just for the sake of being mean. Oftentimes they are undergoing some of their own personal problems. They may feel bad about themselves…so in order to feel better, they bully other people. Others may be experiencing problems at home—maybe their parents are fighting, or maybe they are abused in some way. So that might either be the only way they know how to relate to other people—by being mean—or they are angry and hurt and taking out those feelings on other people.

This does not change the fact that what they’re doing to you is wrong. But it’s a perspective that can offer you some comfort and maybe even sympathy. They are not bullying you because there is anything wrong with you. They are hurting you because they themselves are hurting.

Learn what to do if you’re in danger on the next page.

3. If you are in danger, get help NOW

If the bully is threatening your life, contact the police IMMEDIATELY.

If the bullying has gotten to the point where you are feeling suicidal or planning ways to end your life, that is also an EMERGENCY that demands IMMEDIATE action. If that is the case, you have several options:

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
  • Text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
  • Go to the website, IMALIVE at www.imalive.org.

The last two options allow you to talk to someone via text or computer—no speaking required!

2. If you are being cyberbullied…

With the advent of the internet, cyberbullying is now all too common. Though it can be fought in many of the same ways as traditional bullying, there are a few extra considerations to make.

scared female teenager with computer laptop suffering cyberbullying and harassment being online abused

Do not reply to any bullying messages but instead report them and block the user or number from your social media account or phone. If you are being threatened, be sure to also take screenshots of, print out, or otherwise save what was said, as the bully can delete the evidence if they want. Then take that evidence to the police.

1. Leave

If nothing has worked and you are really struggling, it may be time to move on—to a different school, workplace, or website. Especially in terms of the latter two, this is a pretty huge step, so be sure you’re ready to take it before giving your two-week notice or making an official transfer.

Did we miss anything? What are your tips for handling bullies?

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