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What is bullying?

Bullying is frequent and repeated behaviour that intends to hurt someone either emotionally or physically. Bullying can occur anywhere and it can happen in all types of relationships. Bullying in romantic relationships can be more difficult to deal with as you might really like this person and not realise that you are being bullied. Bullying in romantic relationships can take different forms such as financial control, threatening behaviour and gaslighting. These forms of bullying are never acceptable.

Bullying at school can include harassment from your peers. Sometimes it’s brushed off and not taken seriously. You might hear that a person at school is doing it “because they like you” or “because they fancy you”. It is never acceptable to harass anyone. Harassment can be frequent and classed as bullying. It might lead to you not wanting to go to school or being anxious at school. It’s important to remember, that you should always feel safe and comfortable at school.

Examples of Bullying

Behaviour that intends to hurt someone covers a lot of different behaviours. Here are some examples

  • Physical abuse (hitting, kicking, slapping)
  • Verbal abuse (calling someone names, repeatedly putting someone down)
  • Threatening behaviour (threatening to hurt someone in any kind of way that makes a person feel frightened)
  • Controlling behaviour (isolating you from support like friends or family, telling you where you can and cannot go, controlling your finances)
  • Gaslighting (making a person doubt their own sanity)
  • Harassment (talking about someone’s appearance in a sexual way, catcalling, making a person feel uncomfortable)

Any repeated behaviour that makes a person feel frightened is bullying and you have the right to feel safe and comfortable in every relationship. This extends to relationships at school, with your peers and teachers. 

What does the law say?

Bullying in relationships can fall into different offences depending on the type of bullying.

The Domestic Abuse Act (Scotland) 2018, says it’s an offence for someone t be violent, threatening or intimidating toward a partner or an ex-partner. This includes physical violence, sexual violence and coercive control.

In terms of verbal abuse, the Domestic Abuse Act (Scotland) 2018 says it is an offence to behave in a way that makes a partner or ex-partner feel frightened, humiliated or degraded.

In terms of coercive control, in 2018 a new Domestic Abuse Law in Scotland states if a person has behaved in a way that is likely to cause their partner or ex-partner to suffer physical or psychological harm then they can be charged with a crime. The legislation covers anyone under 18 experiencing domestic abuse in their own relationship. This also covers gaslighting

Where can you get help and support?

You can speak to lots of different organisations that support people facing gender-based violence and bullying.

Equally Safe at School:

Equally safe at school is a project developed by Rape Crisis Scotland in partnership with the University of Glasgow. It aims to work in secondary schools to prevent gender-based violence which includes bullying. It aims to increase confidence and skills in responding to gender-based violence and gender-based bullying incidents and disclosures of these incidents.

If you are being bullied at school you should report it to a teacher. Keep records of any incidents that happen and be sure to let a teacher or adult that you trust know about what is going on.

Find out more about Equally Safe at Schools by visiting their website.

Equally Safe at Schools have support services with more information on how you can report bullying in a gender-based violence context.

Respect Me:

Respect Me: are not a helpline but they can provide practical advice and guidance on dealing with bullying behaviour.

National Bullying Helpline:

National Bullying Helpline: can provide assistance to anyone struggling with any bullying issue, whatever the nature of the abuse. You can contact them between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday

Find out where else you can get support.

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Visit the That’s Not OK campaign page for more information.

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