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Inside a Bully's Mind

An Interview With a Former Bully

Wouldn't you love to get inside a bully's head and see what makes him tick? What is he thinking when he picks on your child? Where does his anger come from? If you met Troy today, you might not suspect that he was once a bully, but he'll tell you here how bullying changed his life.

Q. What kind of kids did you single out to bully?

Troy: I guess I bullied the usual people. I bullied the smelly people, the "weird" people, and the people who were different.

Q. Why these particular people?

Troy: Looking back, I think I bullied the people who let themselves be bullied. People without self-respect or people whom I didn't respect for whatever reasons. For this reason (more likely because I was one of them), I never bullied the "nerds" or the "geeks."

Q. Why do you think you were a bully?

Troy: I was a bully because it was the cool thing to do. A good portion of it wasn't physical bullying -- though much of that did occur. More often than not, I bullied people psychologically and emotionally. When it became more than they could handle, I ended up being the physical bully as well. I started out as what was probably the jester, or class clown.

Q. When did it evolve into physical bullying?

Troy: I think it evolved into physical bullying when people would have just about enough of me and want to fight. It was only then would I realize I could be, and eventually became, a physical bully. It was unfortunate, though, because peers as well as faculty associated me with pseudo-leadership, physical violence and such. It became a burden with people wanting to "school yard" brawl to take me from my "throne."

Q. Did you end up fighting?

Troy: I had to fight when I didn't want to and when you're a young adult you don't understand the whole "it takes a real man to walk away from a fight" bit. The girls liked me because of this control. Unfortunately, it got to the point where I was set up for fights by friends or girls -- as if I was some prize fighter -- but everyone was either afraid of me and didn't stand up for themselves or hated me thinking I was the coolest guy in the world.

Q. Did any of these kids ever stand up to you?

Troy: I had many people stand up to me. Eventually, I ended up beating them down. Then something changed. When someone stood up as I got older, I respected that. And some of these people became my closest friends. I wasn't afraid they would beat me up. I was happy that for the first time someone didn't just let me run amuck and let me step all over them.

Q. This made you happy?

Troy: Bullying is a lonely business, and I was happy the day I swallowed pride and stepped back from a fight. Again, it was because I had finally come around people I could respect. To this day we have conversations about "the old days." They tell me that they knew full well that I was gonna' kill them, but they had just about enough and would die shutting me up.

Q. What consequences did you suffer from being a bully?

Troy: This question brings tears to my eyes to this day. In fact, I just spent the holidays in my hometown and discussed this very thing with my old friends. My biggest regret is the way lives have been changed because of my actions. I created complexes in people who carry them around to this day. I once got into a fight with a kid I grew up with. He was the smartest kid in school, just as big, and well taught in martial arts, but I beat him to a bloody pulp. He never recovered emotionally and dropped out of school because of the shame. We have friends in common and he still talks about it. It's hard to deal with the fact that things you did as a stupid kid will have and have had long lasting effects on people.

Q. I'm sure you're a great guy now!

Troy: I don't know. I'd like to think I am, but I am still a martial artist. I never fight now, and walk away from fights. I am a college graduate and a scientist working at a prominent biotechnology firm, but it seems I have this "look" that says, "bring it on!"

Q. What makes you walk away from fights now?

Troy: Fortunately, my mind and my respect for peace and "good vibes" have grown as well. I am told more often than not that I am a great guy, but I always say that it's because there was a time not so long ago that I really, really wasn't.

Q. How was you home life growing up?

Troy: I had a very tough dad. Not necessarily the most abusive, but very masculine -- or what I learned later was a facade of masculinity. I was the youngest in my family and had two older brothers who terrorized me. Sound familiar? I lacked respect in myself and projected this onto people I felt were like me.

Q. Anything you would like to add?

Troy: You know what? Part of the reason I'm not a bully any more and am more spiritual is the fact that I did realize eventually that my father and brothers really weren't the manly men I thought they were. I realized upon leaving home that the way they treated their woman and themselves was very disrespectful and not manly at all. Things such as honor and integrity is what makes a man a man. I believed I changed when I realized that. Also, I realized that people started liking me more and I liked myself more when I use my mind and not my fists.

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