Sometimes bullying, especially in families, is more covert.
If you call out an adult bully, they reply with incredulity, “I was just asking questions! I can’t believe you took it that way,” putting the blame back on you. And then you start to wonder if you’re the crazy one. Yet even if you turn yourself inside out to try to please the bully, you never will, because bullies thrive on the feeling of instilling fear. Meet one demand and they’ll come up with another.
Remember that the intimidation treatment is not your fault. Everyone is responsible for how they choose to treat others. This can be a lot easier said than done. Particularly if the bully has aroused strong feelings of anger in you. However, a reaction such as this will only prove to the bully that he/she has succeeded in getting to you – which is what they want. Bullies feed off negative emotions, because deep down in some way they feel inferior/insecure about themselves and it’s only by making others feel bad that they can raise their self-esteem. Reacting to a bully in this kind of way is likely to only further encourage and possibly worsen their unwanted behavior towards you. The adult bully is a coward.
We read and hear so much nowadays about children being bullied, especially in schools and online. But what about grownups?
Those who are bullies in childhood often continue to be bullies as adults. The victims of adult bullying may find little or no sympathy from their co-workers, friends and family members. After all, we are big now; we should not let silly things like bullying bother us. Or should we?
What Is It?
In the simplest terms, bullying means one person, or group of persons, being deliberately cruel to another person or group, for any reason. Although childhood bullies are usually quite easy to spot, adult bullies can be sly, subtle, and difficult to expose. A life-long bully has had years of practice. Some have learned to be very cunning indeed. Some hide behind masks of authority, money or other type of power. Some are good at finding plausible excuses to justify their cruelty. But all bullies have one thing in common: they want to hurt someone. Being the victim of a bully can be a devastating experience, and can affect every aspect of a person’s life long after the bully has moved on to another victim.
Why Does It Happen?
Much time and effort are spent trying to discover what motivates a person to bully others, especially in childhood, where this type of behavior usually begins. On-the-spot amateur psychology, however, probably won’t spare you any hurt when a bully comes to call. Remember that, if you find yourself the victim of bullying, a bully’s bad behavior is entirely his or her responsibility, not yours, no matter what the bully may tell you. Compassion has an important role in rooting out the causes of bullying, but in practical terms, it is unproductive to waste time trying to ‘mend’ a bully, or ‘understand’ how he or she came to enjoy such cruel behavior, whilst you are being made a victim. When faced with a bully, your responsibility is to protect yourself from the emotional, social, or physical harm that the bully intends to cause.
How Do I Spot A Bully?
Frequently, bullying behavior is obvious, even if the victim feels he or she can do nothing about it. Physical, verbal or sexual assaults are hard to mistake. But identifying someone as a bully is not always as easy as it sounds. The cruelty meted out by bullies can be subtle, insidious, and cloaked in the most plausible of disguises. If you know someone, perhaps even someone you love and respect, who usually leaves you feeling worse for having been in his or her company (even if you can’t put your finger on the exact reason), you may be the victim of bullying. It is well worth examining the situation closely to find out.
What Can I Do To Stop It?
When someone is bullying you, it is unlikely that there is anything you can say or do to make the bully feel like being nice to you. The best strategy is to change how you respond to the bullying behavior. Bullying behavior cannot continue to have its desired effect if the intended victim successfully stands up to the bully. Once you have identified a bully and know what to expect from him or her, you must choose not to be a victim, if you want the bullying to stop. Expose the bullying for what it is. Take a stand, and don’t back down…
The anguish, fear, and dread a bully is trying to make his or her victim feel can get in the way of a successful defense for the victim. Bullies tend not to pick on those who can fend for themselves; a bully’s enjoyment depends on a victims’ inability (or unwillingness) to fight back. Most bullies are careful to do their bullying when no witnesses are about. Making a creditable complaint against a bully who is generally liked, admired, or respected for some position of authority, can be extremely difficult, and possibly hazardous, for the victim. If you are a bully’s victim, and you perceive, for whatever reason, that you cannot defend yourself, all is not lost.
Tell someone you trust. Find a safe person and tell him or her what’s been happening to you. Name names and give details. Make your situation very clear. This may require a bit of courage, but you can find it.
Arrange for a witness to the bullying. For instance, if you know that the person who bullies you picks certain times or situations to victimize you, ask someone you trust to watch or listen when the bullying takes place. This works best if the witness is physically present for the event, and the bully is unaware of being watched or overheard. If, however, you must use any type of technology to record the bullying, find out first whether or not what you are doing is legally admissible. In some instances, CCTV footage may already be available. Do your homework and be prepared.
Confront the bully. You can do this yourself if you feel able; your trusted person or witness can do it on your behalf; you can hire a solicitor; you can go to the police or other authority. The important point here is to expose the bully and call him or her to account. Confrontation and exposure, with evidence to support a victim’s accusations, are what the bully tries hardest to avoid. Once exposure happens, the bullying is likely to stop.
Bullying in Familes
There should be more information like this available to the masses. I spent years being accused and rejected on numerous levels by my entire family. From the outside, it appeared that we had the perfect family, an upstanding father in a prominent position, a doting stay at home Mom, a brother who is a lawyer, another a chemist, an angel sister, but underneath it all was a seathing resentment towards me that I did not recognize until years later. There was no physical abuse, my parents didn’t have addictions or obvious mental issues. My father and my 3 siblings would sit at our dinner table, taking turns dismissing me, my ideas, my beliefs, my emotions, etc. My mother tried to protect me, but, in the form of smothering, I lived it, but to this day I can barely understand my family dynamics and its deep complexity. This little known form of abuse can manifest itself for its own sake, it took on a gang mentality, intellectual tag teams, scapegoating at its best. I assumed that I deserved to be dismissed and rejected, later seeking out men who would hurt me physically and mentally, for this was my comfort zone and what I was used to. So much happened on the in between, but, I will never understand what happened in the end…I had a son, he assumed my families position of scapegoating me, he was a difficult child to say the least, one night he snapped and beat me unconscious, I ended up in the hospital with the police at my bedside. My family had abandoned me. No one would return my calls, I was uninvited from holidays, for this too was twisted into being my fault. I was being victimized for being the victim! I have never shared this with but a few close friends who were there for me, who are my real family, it’s just too complicated and misunderstood. It’s not been easy to live with, to sort through, to deal with, and even my closest confidants don’t understand the dynamics of what has been my family life. I always thought it would make an interesting case study, but, like you said, those involved are blind to their own actions. Almost 50 years old and am just beginning to realize, it wasn’t me, I did nothing to deserve it and, unlike them, I am stronger for it.