Any form of aggression, such as physical bullying or verbal bullying, can have both long-term and short-term effects on victims. Backstabbing and other forms of relational aggression, however, can have specific effects on victims. Backstabbing takes place when an individual feigns friendship with another, but behaves in a underhanded or unfriendly manner behind their back.
Victims of Backstabbing Have Poorer Mental Health
Victims of backstabbing and other forms of relational aggression also experience higher rates of mental health issues. For one, they are more likely to feel depressed than their peers. Victimized tweens also experience higher levels of anxiety.
Ostracism Can Cause Loneliness
One form of relational aggression is social exclusion. This technique shuts a tween off from her peers, causing an increased sense of loneliness. These lonely feelings sometimes persist years after the aggression has stopped.
Relational Aggression Can Result in Self-Abuse
Partly due to their poorer mental health status, victims of relational aggression often resort to self-abusive and risky behaviors to manage their emotions. In particular, tweens who have been a target of relational aggression have higher rates of smoking than their peers. They also may be more likely to consider suicide, especially if they are a victim of social exclusion.
Social Aggression Can Cause Future Social Issues
Being a target of relational aggression can also cause long-term social problems. Due to their negative past experiences, victims may have a hard time trusting others and creating new friendships. This is especially the case for girls, who tend to feel more damaged by social aggression than boys do.
Victims of Backstabbing Think Less of Themselves
Relational aggression, including backstabbing, can also affect self-esteem. Victims think that they are less attractive, are more poorly behaved, and are less appealing romantically than their non-victimized peers. These findings are particularly pronounced in girls.
Archer, John, and Coyne, Sarah. An integrative review of indirect, social, and relational aggression. 2005. Personality and Social Psychology Review. 9, 3: 212-230.