What Is Bullying?
Bullying is a relentless form of abuse. Bullying can cause very serious harm that may last a lifetime. Bullying includes repeated, intentional acts over time designed to enforce power over another, specifically by intimidating, hurting, scaring, or ostricizing another group.
Bullying behaviors can hurt an individual or a group of people, either by verbal comments, physical harm, coercion, emotional abuse, or threats. Bullying happens in the neighborhood, your community, church, work, and anywhere else in which you interact with other people.
Bullying can be physical, emotional, or verbal, depending on what means the bully uses to attack you. Physical bullying includes hitting, kicking, biting, throwing objects, and anything intended to physically cause pain.
Exclusion or social alienation bullying includes behaviors intended to exclude or alienate another individual. This can be starting rumors, talking negatively, being condescending toward someone, or finding ways to isolate the individuals.
Verbal bullying is using using words to hurt another person. This can include name-calling, vulgar remarks, put-downs, yelling, and verbally intimidating others.
Cyberbullying is a newer form of bullying, in which technology is used to harm another individual. This includes threatening emails, text messages, instant messages, flaming someone on a chat room, or otherwise using technology to harm, upset, threaten, or intimidate others.
Read more about cyberbullying.
How Can I Be Bullied As An Adult?
Bullying is not just something that happens to kids at school. Adults are just as likely to be bullied, and it is very valid to feel bullied if someone is treating you in these ways.
Workplace bullying - This is bullying that takes place at work. It might be a co-worker, a peer, or a supervisor. Workplace bullying is much like the bullying described above, but it is carried out at work, or involving work-related people.
Read more about workplace bullying.
There are some legal protections in place to combat workplace bullying. Many workplaces have documented policies, and anonymous reporting hotlines available to report bullying at work. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also dictates that no person shall be treated deferentially based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
Concerns should be reported to a supervisor, to human resources, or to the EEOC.
Bullying in the community - This includes church, groups, sports, and other places that you interact with in the community. Bullying could include derogatory comments, being excluded from team activities, rumors, or other ways of degrading you. Report bullying to someone in the community if you do not feel comfortable confronting the bully yourself. Speak up and get help.
Bullying at home - Bullying at home also constitutes abuse or domestic violence. This is any form of bullying that occurs between those living together. For children, this can be parent to child, or child to child. Adults can be roommate to roommate, partner to partner. It can also be between friends of a roommate. Again, speak up and find ways to escape the situation.
Read more about domestic violence.
Read more about abuse.
Read more about childhood bullying.
Types of Bullies:
There are several types of bullies you may encounter, in addition to the physical, verbal, and emotional bullies described above.
Narcissistic bully - This person is someone who lacks empathy for others and has no anxiety about the consequences of his or her actions. Narcissism often is based upon putting people down, and this is no exception.
Impulsive bully - This person is a bully who does not plan out bullying acts, rather he or she acts impulsively based on circumstances. This type of bully often is impulsive and has a hard time controlling his or her behavior. The bullying may also be unintentional, and result in feelings of remorse, or concern for the target.
Secondary bully - This person is a bully who does not typically start a bullying episode, but "jumps on the bandwagon." This may be the weaker person in a strong dynamic relationship, someone who does not want to be bullied, or someone impulsive in their behavior. Often a secondary bully is attempting to avoid being bullied themselves.
How Do I Know If I Am Being Bullied?
Bullies operate based on three criteria:
1) An Imbalance of Power: bullies use their power to control or harm their target. The targets may have a hard time defending themselves.
2) Repetition: bullying happens to the target repeatedly by the same person or group.
3) Intent to Cause Harm: Bullying is no accident; and the intent of the bully is to cause harm.
You may be bullied if you are exposed to treatment that makes you feel:
- Afraid for your physical well-being
Physically, you might feel:
- Frequent colds/flu
- Stomach Problems
- Eating Disorders
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Stress disorders
Further, if someone engages in the following, you may also be bullied:
- Call you names
- Yells at you
- Hits, punches, kicks, or physically harms you
- Starts rumors about you
- Gossips about you
- Demeans you in front of others
- Embarrasses you
- Comments negatively on your qualities, traits, or appearance
Bullying is never okay. It is important to make sure that you get help as soon as possible, before you or someone else gets hurt. Remember:
- You do NOT have to put up with it
- You do NOT have to "be strong" or "man up"
- Bullying is harmful and painful, no matter who you are
- If you are being bullied, likely others are being bullied as well
- It is okay to speak out and ask for help
- Violence often escalates. Seek help before it is too late
- You DESERVE to be not bullied
What To Do About Bullying:
There are several things that you can do to decrease, address, and stop the bullying.
Acknowledge the abuse: It is abuse, and you are being abused. Acknowledge that you are being bullied. Often the first step is to find your worth and take the first step of acknowledging your situation. You deserve better, so let go of denial, anger, and excuses for the bully's behavior.
Assess the relationship: Is this a person you must be around? What do you get out of the relationship? If it is a friend or family member, evaluate that relationship and how necessary it is to you. One easy way to stop bullying behavior is to no longer be around the bully. It is also worth thinking about what you want out of this relationship, so that you can articulate that later.
Decide you will take action: Once you have acknowledged the abuse and you have assessed your relationship with the bully, you can decide that you want to take action or not. You know what your life will be like if you take no action - you are being bullied and that likely will not change. Deciding to take action gives you a sense of empowerment that has been stripped by the bully.
Document the abuse: It is critically important that you document instances of bullying and abuse. What was said or done? When? Who was there? What happened? How did you feel? These are important questions that will not only help you see the severity of your situation, but give you some leverage should you consider legal options to stop the abuse.
Set boundaries: This is possibly the hardest step. Figuring out what you want is half the battle. The other half is to articulate what you need and what you want, to your bully. Setting boundaries can be an expectation of how you want to be treated, where and when you will be in contact with the bully. It is critical that you stick to your boundaries.
Confrontation: Confrontation is the final step in managing a bully. This is when you articulate your needs and expectations, establishing those boundaries. Take someone with you who you trust, to back you up and provide moral support.
Finally, consider therapy if you are still struggling, or if you want to take a look at your own behaviors and part in the dynamic created by the bullying. While the bullying is NEVER your fault, there is always self-improvement we can do.
Additional Bullying Resources:
Bullyingstatistics.org - This is a great website for information and statistics around the different types of bullying.
Bullyonline.org - This UK based website contains a long list of steps and recommendations to take to deal with adult bullies, and bullies in the workplace.
Canadianliving.com - Article about bullying, including adult bullying. The article contains case studies and tips for how to manage workplace and adult bullying situations.
Lifeafterbullying.com - This website is a resource for adults who have been bullied. The specific site emphasis is on healing from bullying, what a bully is, tips, articles, and legal resources.