Surviving Small Town Bullying
by Rosalea Hostetler
(Harper, Kansas, USA)
In early May 2011 a member in my brother's family was allegedly murdered in a nearby town by her law enforcement officer husband and the home was set on fire in an attempt to destroy the evidence. His fool proof plan for murder that he bragged about wasn't adequate. The FBI was called in, and he was arrested on suspicion of murder, arson and child endangerment. The trial is pending.
Encouraged by her family to do so, his wife was afraid to file for divorce because this chronic bully threatened to kill the whole family if she left him. Finally, she could endure no more and she filed. After the papers were served she was dead within a few days, leaving behind two little boys without their caring mother and a psychopathic father sitting in jail.
This tragedy has opened a deep wound in my own life, causing me to again deal with the flashbacks of four decades of law enforcement and other "authority" mobster-type bullying that has destroyed my hopes and dreams to preserve our very rare historic downtown. I am not alone. Numerous people are coming forward and sharing their small town bullying stories. It has been painful to learn that countless "authority" in small towns of the prairies are terrible bullies who get away with it because there is no other authority for the victims to go to get help.
The limited selection pool for qualified, ethical, educated, intelligent leaders compounds the problem for small towns in rural America -- the more qualified have moved away years ago. It is a disgrace that the Attorney General throws these severe problems back onto the citizens of the community who have no training or conscience to deal with the horrors. Our Attorney General will not help with any violence in small towns until someone is murdered. This death is a case in point.
Because of the many years of personal targeting I have endured by small town bullies, I have become an acute observer, aware that there are many types of bullying in addition to law enforcement and leadership (authority). One is the Judgmental Bully who tries to make every bullying victim they meet into their particular brand of religion which they claim will prevent them from being bullied. When a person is cornered by this type of bully filled with the power of naivete, they can't even enjoy a meal in peace without being hounded. Never mind if you remind them that they are preaching to the choir, it does not stop them in their vain glory to make you knuckle down on your knees on the spot so they can gloat at "winning for the Lord" or other spiritual leader. One homeless big city man I know says he always plays their games as it means a free meal. He doesn't recall how many times he's "been saved" or "saw the light," but he's overweight.
There seems to be few attempts at reprimanding a bullying attacker in our small town which of course gives a blessing to every bully to use innocent people as a target. Surely, small town life can be hell unless you stay to yourself, live in abject denial that there are any problems, or booze it up or pop so many tranquilizers you don't sense a thing. Once a therapist told me that only 5% of the people are worth knowing, those who have truth, honor, integrity, and are reasonable. This knowledge, plus the advent of the Internet, has helped me much in providing an invisible wall of protection for emotional and mental survival by the inordinate amount of bullies I've encountered.
Another category I've identified is the Social Gadfly Bully, the gossiper who bullies by lies and name calling, to the point the victim's reputation is ruined forever. Social Gadflies would not consider themselves bullies at all but their chronic gossip can emotionally destroy innocent people. I support exposing evil, illegal actions and wrong doing. That is not gossip -- that is a must for the healing and growth of a viable, healthy community. It is how society learns right from wrong. But the Social Gadfly Bully is the great manipulator, playing up to anyone and everyone in order to pit people against one another. Malicious gossip causes a great deal of damage that has destroyed the heart and soul of many prairie communities. Without a doubt, these Social Gadflies have intent to fabricate and manipulate people as their avatars, to destroy without remorse in this insidious manner.
It is next to impossible to rally people broken by years of bullying and intimidation to embrace the courage and integrity that it takes to defend and support victims. Until a day of support arrives, a victim's life in small towns is going to continue to be hell on earth unless they are able to move away. In reality, it is the bully who ought to move away but they are constantly placated by the good ole boy/girl law enforcement and leadership power network so they can get way with murder (literally), so why leave?
What are the answers for restoring hope, respect, peace and honor to the lives of victims who live in small towns? By educating ourselves and supporting scientific researchers and mental health professionals who have joined forces to do studies on the brain patterns of bullying (psychopaths who have no conscience or remorse), we can help bring a cure to this terrible ill. Researchers are also uncovering that the bystanders who see bullying or other wrong doing, and do nothing even though they know it is hurting others, have prefrontal cortex abnormality, too.
Published articles state the day will come when a way will be found to correct the damaged part of the brain that makes people respond in these unhealthy ways. About 30% of all prisoners test out as a psychopath while the general population tests at only 1%. The cost to society to incarcerate the psychopath is enormous, not to mention the inordinate damage they do to their victims. Adolph Hitler is a premier example of an unchecked psychopath. And the German people who sat mute and watched him exterminate the Jews but did nothing are like the populace in our small towns who do nothing when they see evil destroying the lives of the innocent.
The damage in the prefrontal cortex of the brain that causes one to be a bully is generally considered to be genetic but can also be caused by substance abuse, a hard blow to the head, home/school environment and/or devastating childhood events. The most sensitive period for a bully-in-the-making is about age eight, with boys more likely than girls to adapt to bullying behaviors. Group therapy makes the anti-social behavior worse. One-on-one therapy can help but does not necessarily eliminate it.
Until the Attorney General accepts the extreme severity of psychopathic bullying in our city halls and law enforcement and what it does to victims plus the domino effect it has on our rural communities, the best we can do is recognize a bully as a person with a "dangerous disability" and remove ourselves from them as far as possible, refusing to interact with their wily charms, lies, lack of remorse and wrong doing.
Copyright Rosalea Hostetler 2011