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My former high school classmate still harasses me

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a male student in my 20s. I’m worried about how to cope with a former high school bully who harasses me to this day.

When in high school, I was the object of amusement for classmates. However, this classmate used violence against me and maliciously harassed me.

Seeing that those who opposed him became isolated from the class, I just endured the hardship and didn’t tell anyone until I graduated.

When I see him again, at a school reunion or the like, he treats me just as he did when we were in high school. Recently, I declined to participate in an event that seemed fun because I heard he would be there. In response, he became angry and sent me a defamatory e-mail.

This deed disgusted me from the depths of my soul, so I screwed up my courage and began ignoring his e-mails. Honestly, I was a bit scared he would become furious with me if I had clearly told him to stop doing it.

My move was meant to cut ties with him. However, he won’t stop sending e-mails that threaten violence.

I even thought about blocking his e-mails, but decided against it as I figured that’s something a coward does.

N, Tokyo

Dear Mr. N:

You used to just endure his bullying, but now you are brave enough to ignore him. I think you are a man with guts, as you are concerned that you may be a coward if you reject his e-mails. You try hard, indeed.

People who harass or use violence against others are themselves timid and nervous, and believe they have no other way to exert their superiority. Since you don’t react as he expects, he persistently pesters you. Satisfied only if you are scared or cozy up to him, his pride won’t allow him to accept your casual decision to ignore him.

However, “ignoring” him is a negative reaction. It won’t work on rough men like him. From now on, stand up to him with your words. But I don’t suggest you directly defy him.

Tell him that you live a busy and fulfilled life of daily learning and club activities, and let him know you are not what you were in the past, but have improved many times over. If he realizes toying with you just makes him feel small, it’s a success.

Remember, he’s not a friend of yours. He has and will have nothing to do with your life. So don’t be afraid of him.

Hazuki Saisho, writer

(from Nov. 28, 2015, issue)Speech

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