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Bullying, discrimination, microaggressions, all have one thing in common. They make us feel unsafe.

Each of these words have a slightly different meaning.

Bullying

Bullying is the use of force, either physically or mentally and emotionally force to intimidate and threaten another person. Often the bully picks on other children or young people that he or she thinks are weak and afraid.

Discrimination

Discrimination is also using force or our position to treat a person unfairly because they are different to us. The difference may be because of their gender or their sexual orientation, or they are from another culture or background to ours.

Microaggressions

Microaggressions are often defined as unintentional or indirect discrimination against a person. 

However, when you have experienced bullying and seen members of your family be discriminated against because your family is Aboriginal or from a different culture, microaggressions just feel like more of the same.

What happens when we experience bullying, discrimination and microaggressions?

When we experience situations where we are bullied and discriminated against, suddenly our world doesn’t feel safe.

When we don’t feel safe, we can start to withdraw from things. We don’t trust people and become suspicious of everyone.  

Often feeling unsafe can lead to feeling anxious and increased anxiety.

We need to feel safe.

A guy called Maslow

There was this guy called Maslow and he developed a triangle to show all the things we need to be happy, healthy and live a useful life.

This is what his triangle looked like

Notice the second layer in orange, is about safety. Once our basic need for food, sleep and accommodation are met, the next thing we need to have met is feeling safe.

When we feel safe, we can create healthy relationships with our friends, our family and ultimately with another person.

When we don’t feel safe it is difficult to feel like we belong. We spend our time trying to find somewhere or someone who makes us feel safe.

This is why bullying, discrimination and micro aggressions are dangerous. They destroy our sense of safety.

How can we build our safety?

  1. Our friends can help us feel safe.

We may not have many friends and that is okay. All we really need is one or two with whom we can be honest and be ourselves.

  1. Family

It may be our mum or dad, or perhaps our grandparents, an aunt or uncle. Often there is someone is our close or extended family we feel really close to. They can help us feel safe.

  1. Doing things, we enjoy

Doing things, we enjoy can help us feel safe. Perhaps it is going to the gym or playing a sport. Feeling the strength of our body and the feeling of being in our bodies rather than in our minds can help us feel safe.

  1. Contributing by being involved in a group

Often contributing by volunteering or being involved with a community group can help us feel safe and give us a sense of belonging.