I love my friend for standing up for herself… but the bullies are dragging me into it too. How can I get them to stop?

Our elder would never advocate giving up on a friend, but has some tips on staying safe.

Dear EWC

OK so I’ve noticed something. There’s this group of guys at my school. They’re rich, white, popular, and athletic. And I guess they’re not used to getting “no” as an answer. I have this friend who’s not afraid to confront people about things. I really admire this about her. But it’s gotten her into trouble before. She never backs down or knows when to walk away. Most girls just give these boys whatever they want whenever they want because they’re good looking and popular and all that. But my friend doesn’t. If she doesn’t want to do something she won’t do it, and she won’t be afraid to tell you about it. So now all these guys have it out for her. Not to mention all of the rich, white, popular girls. And I’m her friend so of course I get dragged into it. They push her buttons and try to get reactions out of her for some reason. They talk shit about her behind her back. And when she comforts them about it they act like she’s the one who’s obsessed with them and the one not leaving them alone. It makes me really mad how unfair it all is. It seems like it’s me and her against the whole school sometimes. How do I get them to leave her alone?

Good-Listener replies

I’m sorry you and your friend are going through this unpleasantness at your school. Bullying has gone on since the beginning of time, and there is no age limit… I’ve been the object of it at almost 70 years old!

But what to do. First off, you can’t be responsible for what your friend does. She has made her choice to confront… and, as bullies, of course they are blaming her for what they do themselves. However, there’s a difference between not backing down and actively engaging. It’s possible, by trying her best to ignore it, it may lessen up. They want the confrontation — it allows them to feel important and they know it’s getting to her. But, as I said, that’s her choice to do that. And, if she does ignore them and they continue, or it gets violent, she could at least report it. I know it’s not easy… and your friend does sound like a strong young lady. It’s just learning to find a way to co-exist, and trying the less aggressive approach.

Unfortunately, you may be getting targeted by association. I would never, ever tell you to give up the friendship… just to think about how you too want to react. And, if you are getting bullied to the point where school becomes impossible, then it needs to be reported and, perhaps, with a counselor you can find a happy medium. You can’t take responsibility for your friend — I believe in standing up for friends, but not when they are putting you in jeopardy. Perhaps confidentially speaking to a school counselor may help with specifics. They are familiar with the particulars of the student body and may have better suggestions. Hang in there — often bullies get tired of one target and look for another focus for their negative energy. Good luck.

Letter #: 434668
Category: Friendship

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