It all started with an email that I received from Kate Cohen-Posey with her own personal bullying story and an offer to have a new section on this site that she could help others through as a “true” professional who works with victims of bullying. Kate Cohen-Posey is a professional counselor and author on the subject of bullying. She has a practice in Florida and has written three books on both bullying and other issues in the world of professional personal therapy. As many realize, we know to help others in many cases by remembering what has happened to us. In the coming weeks, Kate will share her professional support in our new section called Cool Comebacks to Cruel Comments. But for now, she will share her story below. ~Alan Eisenberg
I think I’ve had the usual dose of mean comments, but two instants were over the top. When I was very young, I was surrounded by a large group of kids and told that I killed Jesus. The second stand-out memory was when a young man would come sit next to me in the school library and whisper in my ear that I should have died in the gas chambers. I would sit there paralyzed with shame. I’ve often wondered why I never told anyone this was happening—not my best and dearest friend, not my parents.
I experienced many other hurtful comments that did not qualify as bullying; they were not repetitive, intentionally aggressive remarks by people who perceived me as weaker. Often, in their ignorance, my friends said things like, “He’s so Jewish,” or don’t let him “Jew you down.” When I was in the 11th grade I shocked myself and confused my friends. Someone had made a cruel comment, and out of my mouth popped the words, “Why are you complimenting him when he’s being stingy.” This response planted the seeds for my future career. The bully whisperee became the bully whisperer.
I am now a psychotherapist in central Florida and teach people how to “whisper to bullies” by disarming disdain. I’ve published bully books for children and adults: How to Handle Bullies, Teasers, and other Meanies and Making Hostile Words Harmless. Bullies are no longer a problem for me. It’s not that they don’t exist. In fact I think adult bullying is more rampant, but more subtle than what children endure. My most empowering moments have happened when I blocked a bully. An ER doctor yelled at me for being late for an evaluation and I kindly told him he was a good doctor who cared about his patients. He backed off with his mouth open. If the meek frightened child that was me can learn to do this, anyone can.