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Women and girls who suffer from bullying can heal through the power of sisterhood. The most recent research tells us that women who were bullied in their childhood as girls are more likely to struggle with emotional damage, specifically greater levels of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than their male peers.
The study, which gives us greater insight into the effects of trauma on girls, was published by the Journal of Social Psychology of Education:
Childhood bullying often results in long-term psychological trauma that is similar to girls who suffer severe physical or sexual abuse.
Similarly, the effects of bullying trauma may linger for many years, disrupting psychological functioning by negatively affecting’ mental health and well-being.
Researchers surveyed almost 500 college students about their personal experiences with trauma from birth to age 17, including, but not limited to bullying, cyberbullying, robbery, sexual assault, domestic and community violence.
Those of you who have experienced bullying may not be surprised that being a victim of bullying was the strongest predictor of PTSD symptoms among college students. Dorothy Espelage, researcher at the University of Illinois, states:
“Bullying victimization significantly predicated students’ current levels of depression and anxiety — over and above other childhood victimization experiences.”
She continues, “This research suggested that college students’ psychological distress may be connected in part to their perceptions of past childhood bullying victimization experiences.”
The study also shows us that bullying trauma impacts the likelihood of future traumatic events: students who experienced one interpersonal trauma were at the greatest risk of being victimized in other ways and of developing PTSD.
How can girls heal from bullying trauma and recover to be healthy, well-adjusted women? By building resilience through sisterhood.
Connecting students with interventions that help them develop protective social support networks may be the best way to help them cope with the emotional aftermath of bullying and other traumatic experiences, the researchers suggested.
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