Whether it's bullying from peers in school or the workplace, sibling abuse, child abuse or domestic violence, constant intimidation is unhealthy for all involved. Whether you are the perpetrator, the victim or an innocent bystander, constant intimidation can cause anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and nightmares. Even if the perpetrator fails to act on his threats, the damage is done. Verbal and mental intimidation can be far more damaging than physical violence as the scars are much less visible and can go undetected.
Living in Fear
People who are constantly intimidated by means of threats, verbal abuse or physical violence often live in fear of when it will happen again. They develop defences and often "walk on eggshells" around the perpetrator in hopes of avoiding another attack. Children who are bullied may avoid walking a particular route to school or going to the bathroom during school in hopes of avoiding the bully. Victims of domestic violence will try to make everything "perfect" in the hopes of keeping the abuser happy. The constant intimidation controls the life of the victim.
Even after the stress is gone and the bullying or attack has ceased, the stress may continue. Cortisol and adrenalin increase when the body's "fight or flight" mode is activated during a threat. As a result, people who are victims of chronic intimidation may perceive a threat whenever they feel stressed. Over time, this can weaken the immune system, causing various physical ailments including but not limited to headaches, stomach aches, and pain throughout their bodies. Chronic stress also leads to anxiety disorders in adults and children.
Whether a person grows up in an abusive environment where constant threats and intimidation is the norm, is bullied at school or marries a partner who turns out to be abusive, depression may result. Often victims feel helpless and don't know where to turn for help. They may feel powerless to change their situation and unable, for various reasons, to reach out for help. Unable to express their anger and rage at their perpetrators, they turn it inward on themselves, resulting in mild to severe depression. Children can become depressed as their situations worsen. Often, depression is not noticed until adulthood.
The worst-case scenario for any victim of chronic intimidation is death. Victims may be murdered by a spouse or significant other during an attack of domestic violence. They may find themselves so controlled by their partner that they become isolated and withdrawn from the people they could reach out to for help. In extreme cases of domestic violence, abusers often isolate their victims to obtain ultimate control. Some of these victims may commit suicide. Victims of bullying may not have the self-esteem to get help, and they take their own lives. Constant intimidation can ruin and end lives.
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