University is a crucial time for students to develop independence and it is an opportunity for growth and for students to learn how to deal with change. As a students’ life is hectic, their living environment is meant to be a safe haven, for students to wind down. However, some students do have to deal with bullying housemates. This is especially difficult for students, as this is usually the first time, they have lived for lengthy periods of time with other students they don’t know very well and bullying thus intensifies an already fragile situation. For most students experiencing bullying housemates, they want to know: How would an adult deal with bullying housemates?
This article seeks to guide young adults with how to deal with their bullying and provide insight as to different strategies they can use to deal with their housemates.
You may also find the following articles helpful:
1 – Speak to the People/Person Who is Bullying You
Whilst, some students may view this as a bizarre strategy, communicating to the person who is bullying you is often effective. This is to ensure that the person who is bullying you is aware of what they are doing. Perhaps they may not be aware of what they are doing and the affect that it is having on you.
Speaking also demonstrates you are not intimidated by your bullies, as you are able to confront them and identify what they are doing as unacceptable and as something, that must stop.
If you are being bullied by multiple people, you must be more cautious when approaching them as the dynamic is different and favours the bullies; in comparison to you speaking to one person alone.
You should state what they have done, when they have done it and insist it stops as you will take action if it continues. This is to ensure that they understand that you won’t tolerate it as bullying isn’t acceptable.
Speaking to the people who are bullying you is a useful mechanism to prevent further bullying. However, if you fear for your safety, you should speak to the university straight away instead of speaking to them individually as it is unsafe.
2 – Ask Your University Counsellor for Guidance
All universities have a counselling service and if you are dealing with bullying housemates. Talking to the counsellor may help you better understand the situation and how to deal with it. University counsellors, have experience with dealing with university issues. Especially common problems for students like household bullying and therefore can support you through it.
Some students may feel uncomfortable speaking to their university counsellor as their bullying household mates may be aware that you’re frequently using the counselling service. However, the counsellor will be able to support you and can refer you to people that may be able to adjust your living arrangements and thus is practical for students to uptake.
3 – Distance Yourself from the People Who Are Bullying You
Whilst, it is difficult to distance yourself from people you are living with, it is important that you distance yourself from your housemates to show you are serious about the behaviour your housemates are exhibiting. Distancing, yourself from them gives your housemates an opportunity to reflect on their behaviour and also gives you space so you can prioritise your studies.
This may result in your housemates excluding you from gatherings as they don’t believe they have bullied you and may insist their behaviour is justified. In this instance it’s important to remain distant and demonstrate that you won’t be manipulated into behaving normally around people who are disrespecting you.
4 – Make a Note of What They Are Doing and When They Are Doing it
If you are being bullied by your housemates, it’s important to make a note of what is happening and when this is, as if you do intend to report this at some point, you will have a clear record of what you have experienced.
Bullying can be difficult to prove, particularly intimidation and coercion. Therefore making a note of things that have happened will make it easier to prove what you have experienced.
Also, by making a note of what is happening, you yourself will have a better understanding of what is happening and may be able to identify patterns in behaviour, which may help you overcome the bullying that you’re experiencing.
If you are being physically harmed, you should report this straight away. You shouldn’t wait until the violence is more severe to report it, you must report physical harm immediately as it is very serious. The bully may harm you again but is also a threat to the safety of others in the accommodation, so must be reported.
5 – Speak to Other Trusted Students About it
Bullying housemates, unfortunately is a common problem that students experience in university and therefore other students can often provide you with solutions to your problems.
Most universities have a system in which younger students are assigned older students as guiders on their university journey. Older students, are especially useful to speak to, as they have more experience in the university and can refer you to people who can help you deal with your housemates.
You could also speak to students who are in the same year as you, particularly if you are in the first year of university as trouble with housemates is especially common in the first year of university, so many first-year university students relate to this.
If you decide to speak to your housemates, you may find it comforting to have another student with you, so sharing your experience is important.
6 – Tell Friends and Family
Going to university can be frightening, especially if you have troublesome housemates as you don’t know them very well and living in an accommodation is a completely new setting. This is why it’s important to talk to friends and family as you can often feel alone when experiencing things like this. So, talking to people who you are familiar with, will help you settle down.
As students are moving to be more independent, you may feel that complaining about being bullied is embarrassing as it’s up to you to deal with this yourself. However, even if telling your family may be difficult, having support from home will help you get through the bullying.
7 – Report the Bullying to the University
Bullying can be reported at any time to the university and is taken very seriously. Every university handles bullying slightly differently; however, usually if the bullying is serious or is consistent, the bullies place at university can be revoked.
This also means that the university will look into the person who is making the report and if a false allegation is made their will be consequences for the person who has made the allegations.
If you go onto your university website, there will be clear guidelines as to how you would go about reporting the bullying. The process of reporting bullying may be slightly different because of COIVD-19, therefore you should ensure that you are going about the process in the right way.
If the bullying is severe, consistent or violent it should be reported to the university as the university has a duty to safeguard you as well as all other students at the university.
8 – Try to Move to Another Accommodation
If you continue to struggle with your housemates and have reported your housemates and this hasn’t resulted in them taking action, you can ask your university to change your accommodation. If you have already started the year, it is harder to move to another accommodation in the term. However, if you request for a change in accommodation the university may be able to help you.
If you know that a college at university attracts a group of people that you know you don’t want to be around, when you are applying for accommodation the following year, apply to a quieter college as you are less likely to have conflict.
Obviously, you are not always able to prevent issues you may have, but you should be aware that different colleges do attract different types of people(quieter/noisier/older/younger) and you may find another accommodation suits you better.
9 – Identify Whether the Bulling is a Criminal Act
Whilst, all bullying is nasty and shouldn’t be tolerated, some forms of bullying are criminal acts as the person is acting against the law. For instance, any form of physical harm or hate speech is illegal and therefore should be reported.
Identifying whether bullying is a criminal act is important as the distinction of whether it is, informs decisions that you make. So, if it is criminal, it must be reported as it is severe. Whereas, if it isn’t criminal it should still be reported as bullying isn’t tolerated anywhere. However it is less serious than the criminal acts.
If you inform your university of this behaviour, they will inform the police, which will mean that the university and the police will deal with the bullies, particularly the police if it is a severe case. It will mean that you will have to give a statement to the police about what you have been experiencing; which may be difficult but is crucial in preventing further harm to you and to anyone else at university.
What is Hate Speech?
Hate speech is something that someone says negatively about any protected characteristic. So, this is abusing speech or threatening speech on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation etc. This is different from someone saying something nasty, as it is specifically something about you that is prejudice against you on the basis of a protected characteristic.
If you wish to read more on hate speech, check out this useful article.
10 – Don’t Isolate Yourself
When people are being bullied in their accommodation, they tend to isolate themselves from people as they don’t want more problems with relationships at university. This can be problematic as it does give bullies a sense of power over your interaction and can lead to a vicious cycle of bullying and isolation.
Therefore, if you do feel like you are being bullied, going out and talking to more people may give you a different perspective on what you are experiencing.
If you are being bullied, you will see a decline in your mental health and confidence and if you are subsequently isolating yourself, you are magnifying the way in which the bullies are affecting you.
Instead, you should actively be around people who are supporting you and go out with them, minimising the time you are spending in your accommodation. If you are constantly in your accommodation with your bullies, the toxicity may worsen, so getting out is vital.
What is Bullying?
Bullying is to harm, intimidate or coerce somebody else repeatedly. While, some students do physically harm others, the most common form of bullying from housemates is intimidation and coercion.
This should be handled differently from physical harm as this is more severe in the short term. Also, a single instance of this type of behaviour isn’t bullying. It must be repeated behaviour for it to be considered bullying, so students must be wary of this before making any allegations towards a student.
If you want to read more on bullying, check out this useful article.