I just read this article on how Tom Cruise had an abusive father and was bullied at school. I was not surprised. And as a kid who was teased off-and on at school, I can spot a former victim with the same animal-like accuracy that those alpha-kids at school could sniff out the vulnerability of their targets.
Kids are predators. The really young ones might not have the social sophistication or self-awareness to know who they like, but they sniff out the weak. If someone' parents were getting divorced, or if there were hard times at home, kids wore it in their uncertain body language. And there were certain kids who would instinctively stalk those weak kids, then lunge for the kill.
As the perennial target of the bullies, I was always lucky enough to have good, loyal friends. Part way through high school, I stopped trying to emulate or please other people, and embraced my personal oddities, and suddenly all the snarky girls seemed transformed too - perhaps they were too preoccupied with being victimized by poor relationship choices (the alpha male teenager could not have been a fun partnership).
But the bullying warps you a bit for life. It remains in that moment of hesitation before you take initiative. Even in the adult world, where our social structure has become more nuanced, and most schoolyard bullies have outgrown their bloodthirst, there will always be those moments - the ones when I come across that person who I just know was a schoolyard tyrant.
And if i am having a bad day, I feel by body hunch into a submissive stance before I check myself and correct it. I know they have spotted it - I can see it reflected in their eyes and body language. That will probably never go away, and that's ok. I think it made me more compassionate, blablabla....
I don't know what I am saying, except if you try to victimize someone I love, I will so cut you.