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Is it possible to not realize that you're being bullied at the time? Like you look back years later and realize you were bullied and just accepted it as normal or expected behavior at the time?

20 Answers
Last Updated: 01/15/2020 at 3:13am
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United States
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Polly Letsch, LCSW

Clinical Social Work/Therapist

I provide non-judgmental, person-centered, objective therapeutic treatment for individuals of all ages to improve social, emotional, mental and other areas of functioning.

Top Rated Answers
September 27th, 2016 10:35am
Of course, in this day and age a lot of people are bullied and don't realize because we are all just "joking around"
January 5th, 2016 11:49pm
Yes. I used to be convinced I was the problem & deserved however people treated me because of the same differences they made fun of. I was exposed to a lotta people treating people wrong as a kid & I thought that was just normal. Now I feel like people in my life now are so nice I don't even know how to respond. I let some kids push me around & my mom asked me why I'd let anyone do that. I thought that was the price of "friends" who accept you when you're not perfect. The worst kind of bullying is when people convince you it's true, when they pretend they're telling you as a friend to protect you. There are tells though. Those kinda people get mad when you don't give in & they snap. Like this 1 time I told someone she's not perfect either & she showed a completely different side of her. Some environments are just weird like school or anything fast paced or where people have an agenda. Separating how I look at different environments helps.
February 12th, 2015 12:35pm
Yes it is possible. At that time, you might not really knowing that you were being bullied because you thought that you were helping them on doing something (eg: lending money cause they ask you to help their parents or friends in needs)
March 15th, 2015 2:43pm
It actually happened to me. As a kid, I was always pushed away and was always laughed at. But it wasn't until a few months ago that I realized this, and that was when I was talking to a listener about my childhood. It does hurt yes, because I think I could have received much more love as a kid but all I got was being ridiculed and laughed at.
May 22nd, 2015 5:25pm
Certainly! There are times where we dismiss bullying as what we think is playful name calling. Sometimes it's not apparent that we're being bullied.
January 8th, 2018 12:47pm
I have actually had this happen to me all through high school I was picked on ridiculously people made up rumors pulled my chair out from under me, but in that present moment I don’t ever remember think “I am being bullied” looking back on it,it was pretty severe and has affected the way I react in friendships and relationships because it changed the way I view myself. Counseling has really helped me get through the walls that I built up because of this.
July 20th, 2015 12:21am
That is completely possible. All kinds of extreme stuff can seem "okay" or normal if that's what happens every day, and it only becomes obvious how extreme it was once you get out of that situation and have something to compare it to.
February 27th, 2018 7:59pm
it is possible because you may think that they are just teasing you are playing with you until you get older and realize that you were getting bullied
March 12th, 2015 3:18pm
This scenario is certainly possible. One way of analyzing how this can happen is the idea of having "20/20 hindsight". i.e. when looking back on a situation, you have the benefit of being able to see it from more perspectives, you may have more information to go on, and you have be more mature and knowledge than you did back then. We may also have the benefit of having fewer emotions that cloud our views on the situation. When you've been bullied for so long and so consistently, a victim can certainly believe it to be normal or expected behavior at the time because that's all they might know, and that might be what feels to be the truth of the situation. Do remember that bullying is never acceptable, no matter now "normal" or "expected" it may seem. If you're being bullied, try and get help.
May 29th, 2015 10:57am
I was being bullied from the ages of 10-15 and I didn't realise it until just last year, at the time I thought it was just what everyone did, and I was always told that children will be mean sometimes, so I brushed it off to just being children. 2 years ago a became lead peer mentor for my school, and hearing other stories and going through the training, I began to unspderstand that it wasn't just children being mean, I was actually being bullied for so many years. So yes, I think it is very possible not to realise you are being bullied, it's easy to get caught up and not pay attention because you are so worried about losing those people.
July 6th, 2015 5:00am
Yes! I went through this in my younger years. I hadn't realized I was being treated so poorly and that it wasn't alright until I met people who shown me that I deserved better.
May 2nd, 2017 2:15am
Yes. Take it from someone who knows. I was bullied by one of my roommates for the longest time, and I didn't realize it until much later. Often times, it takes stepping back from a situation to be able to figure out exactly what's going on. Not all bullying is up in your face, you know? A lot of it can be more subtle, and that's not exactly easy to figure out, especially when you're right in the thick of it.
February 12th, 2015 5:21am
I believe so. An example that I could come up with is a situation in which the bullies were saying certain mean things without you being aware that it's bullying. Certain abusive behaviors considered normal, such as verbal or physical abuse in the army, for example, is still bullying despite the fact that they are widely accepted. Also, all things are subjective: What some view as bullying may not be viewed as such by others. Use your judgment.
May 22nd, 2015 5:33pm
I certainly have! I was bullied by a group of friends and when talking to a different friend about it they said "oh that's just normal, they're your friends they're supposed to make fun of you!". That's not the case! If you ever feel uncomfortable with somebody or with a group, it is perfectly fine to walk away. Put yourself first and find better people! :)
July 28th, 2015 3:00am
Of course. I've seen it happen where kids passed harassment off as playful banter. What they didn't realize is these people hated their guts. I eventually led them to a solution and they got help from the school's administrator.
November 10th, 2015 8:25am
That happened to me, actually. So it's possible. Before I didn't think I was being bullied. I didn't realize that it was bad, what they were doing to me. But now that I look back to it, I realized that it was bullying. But it's not an issue to me anymore, 'cause I'm friends with that person now. :)
January 11th, 2016 5:43pm
Yes, that's entirely possible. Often when things are actually happening to us we have no perspective on them. But when we look back in hindsight, it can become a lot clearer. When we are bullied we play the "victim", and the "victim" will often blame things on themselves, or the situation, or even deny that there is anything wrong. When we stop being the "victim", it's a lot easier to find the root cause of the problem.
March 7th, 2016 6:14am
It IS possible....anything is possible :) However... well honestly maybe you were so flexible about it you didnt notice and that is okay. Dont dwell on it. because it is in the past. Plus, those happier memories are better than sad and dark ones. You had it better than some others. Be the nice person you can be.
May 9th, 2016 5:05am
Yes, it is really possible. I hail from India where these terms are not that common I mean not even in our local language. People are so concentrated on focusing with studies and stuff that they don't really get anything else than studies. Parents say, there's no difficulties other than studies, not even simple diseases leave alone these psychological problems. So, lot of people here just ignore bullying, they don't even care about it. Whoever is bullied they just accept it as normal behavior, as the question goes, and they go on. Honestly if I hadn't been to 7cups I wouldn't have never known bullying, so I now realize what those pranks meant, what those laughs at my back meant and how deeply it had affected my mind and that of so many children around here, like a hidden viper!
January 15th, 2020 3:13am
I used to be convinced I was the problem & deserved however I was treated because they were family. I didn't identify it as bullying at first because they were suppose to be the loving people who support you and what they did was "out of love" and "normal" and "doing it to protect you". (Also, going against an authority figure was a sin as a kid.) Now I realize it was a sign of control and jealousy. Utilizing "family" masquerading as genuine compassion is the worst. Robbed me a lot of self-esteem and youth and took a long time to build myself up again. A family does not mean automatic caring relationships who have your best interests. Sometimes its manipulation on the gullible and naive for power. You don't owe them anything.