Repeated and intentional bullying, abuse and physical assault on a person has devastating consequences for the victim.
An increase in the number of cases of persistent physical assault has been observed in recent years. This raises a concern in society that needs to make people more aware of what bullying entails.
Therefore, it is essential to know what its characteristics are, how we can detect it and how to prevent and act in the face of this type of harassment. We cannot be indifferent and we must be vigilant in order to be able to act and treat both the victims and the aggressors.
In this article we will know better what is physical bullying, what causes and consequences are linked to it and how we must act to prevent and end it.
What is physical harassment?
Physical bullying is a type of abuse, harassment or bullying that occurs repeatedly and where there is physical contact between the victim and the abuser. It can manifest itself in a number of ways, including punches, pushing, kicking, spitting or even destroying or stealing personal belongings, such as the victim’s school supplies.
The aggressor is usually a figure with authority or stronger than the victim, someone from whom it is difficult to defend or escape, faced with this situation the victim will find himself in a state of helplessness in which she sees and believes that nothing that he does can prevent or for aggression, she can do nothing to put herself out of danger.
One of the most common types of harassment is physical harassment, it can be found in schools, but it can also be present in the workplace among adults. Since men, men tend to relate more frequently to physically aggressive behavior towards women, this form of bullying will be more likely to be generated and presented among children, men.
It is considered and reported as the most dangerous type of harassment, because in other types of bullying such as psychological or verbal, only a psychological affectation or consequence occurs for the victim; instead, in case of physical violence in addition to the psychological alterations that also occur, there will be physical damage or injury to the victim, which may endanger his or her physical integrity..
Currently this form of harassment has increased, they have increased the number of subjects affected by physical harassment. This has generated great social concern, given the fatal consequences of this type of bullying. As with any behavior, it usually starts with less severe patterns or attacks i.e. It is common for the perpetrator (s) to start verbal harassment and then move on to physical violence.
There are different variables or characteristics that can predispose or be related to the presence of bullying; some of these variables would be: race of victim and perpetrator, gender, socio-economic status or social class, and physical appearance or personality of the victim.
The only characteristic or “beneficial” fact is that since it is a very aggressive type of bullying, it leaves marks and marks on the body, and it is simpler and easier to detect by subjects who are part of the victim’s environment, such as parents or teachers.
Characteristics of physical harassment
A necessary characteristic for assault to be considered bullying is that it occurs repeatedly, more than once, and not as a single, isolated occurrence. This type of harassment can be found in different spaces where the victim and the aggressor coincide.; for example, in classrooms of a school or high school, on the playground, in universities or even as we have already pointed out at work, in this particular case, harassment is called mobbing.
Another essential fact in order to be able to consider an assault as physical harassment is that this happens intentionally by the abuserthat is, taking action to hurt and assault the other person, not by accident.
Harassment is also observed an inequality of power. The abuser surpasses the victim in certain characteristics, for example, physically, he is older and has more strength; psychologically, he is smarter; or socially, he has a favorable position and shows the support of other colleagues. It is important to consider the degree of aggression, as it tries to produce control and power over the victim.
It was considered that the perpetrator is often not just an individual, but is a group of subjects who support and hide from each other.
There are many ways to physically assault, ranging from hitting or knocking to breaking or stealing objects, property of the victim. Apart from the physical damage or loss caused by these assaults, as we have already mentioned, they will also cause psychological damage, generating a decrease in the self-esteem of the victim, as well as a feeling of insecurity that does not exist. will not allow you to be calm in many environments where it spends a large part of the day such as school.
This physical violence also affects the social sphere of the victim, since one of the goals or consequences of physical harassment will be the isolation or exclusion of the victim, both by his aggressors, who, as expected, do not want him as a friend, and by other colleagues who do not want to be close, who relate to the victim and who fear that this fact will cause them to be attacked in the same way.
Many times, to prevent the victim from reporting the harassment or seeking help, the abusers prevent the victim from communicating freely, forcing or forcing the victim to take action and behave in a behavior that she does not want. or that she doesn’t want to do.
Causes of physical harassment
There are several causes that can lead to physical harassment, so it is sometimes difficult to clearly state the causes of the assault.
Some typical personality traits that are commonly presented to abusers they can be among the following: showing a tendency or an ease to act in an aggressive or impulsive manner, needing to dominate or to exercise power over others …
It is not uncommon for abusers to have low self-esteem and aggressively attempt to resolve and compensate for their emotional deficiencies. Likewise, it is also individuals with insecurities who try to increase this, by hurting other people and making them feel less secure, finally narcissistic traits can also be observed, giving the feeling or believing themselves superior to the victim.
It also plays an important role in the presence of bullying the frustration the abuser feels with certain aspects of their life. The impossibility or difficulty of controlling the situation produces frustration, irritability and anger that he cannot control and that he will have to evacuate.
Although this may seem contradictory, it has been found that several times abusers have also been or are victims of assault. This assignment generates in them the need to restore their power or their pride and they mistakenly believe that by acting the same way that they did for them, they will feel better.
Likewise, we have seen that it is common for the aggressor to do not show empathy towards the victim, do not put yourself in her shoes and understand the harm he is doing her. This lack of empathy can arise because the person is still too young and has not developed this skill, or simply because they do not have the necessary social and emotional skills and competences.
It is also common for the perpetrator to feel a certain envy towards the victim, to feel inferior to some respects in relation to it. In the case of physical bullying, where the abuser is typically taller or stronger than the victim, it is common for differences and feelings of inferiority to be more closely related to intelligence. The attacker attacks the victim by trying to hide this insecurity and inferiority.
Other environmental characteristics or variables that may be the cause of physical harassment are the stressful environment in which the abuser lives, as we said, may be the victim of another type of abuse; and the lack of attention the abuser receives from relatives and friends, lack of care and support.
Consequences of physical harassment
As we pointed out previously, this type of harassment produces physical ailments and damage to the victim which can sometimes be permanent, forcing the victim to adapt to these new circumstances.
On the other hand, like any other type of harassment, they also generate psychological alterations, which can lead to behavior the appearance of depressive or anxiety disorders, among others. Even living in a situation of harassment can lead to suicidal tendencies and to wanting to end one’s life to avoid further suffering.
How to detect, prevent and act in the face of this type of harassment?
It is important that those around the potential victim know if they are happening: changes in behavior, for example, are no longer fun with anything; mood swings, most of the time is sad; he has trouble sleeping or, on the contrary, sleeps a lot more than before; eats less or refuses to eat; injuries or bruises on his body are common.
Given the seriousness of the consequences of harassment It will be imperative that bullying or harassment prevention protocols are implemented and used. It is very important that the environment around potential victims knows and is informed about the possible types of bullying, how to detect it and what to do about it. It is particularly important, given the increasing number of cases of harassment in classrooms, that teachers and academic staff are trained and trained.
The gravity of the case is such that in cases where those involved are over 14 years of age, it is advisable to report the abuse and demand criminal liability. Likewise, it is recommended to seek the help of experts, whether in the legal or health field.
- Team of experts from the University of Valencia (2018) Consequences of harassment for the victim and the aggressor.
- University of Valencia expert team (2018) The different forms of harassment: physical, psychological, verbal, sexual, social and cyberbullying.
- CES Madrid (2021) Physical harassment: characteristics, causes and consequences.
- Bausela, E. (2008) Strategies to Prevent Bullying in the Classroom. Psychosocial intervention.