As an adult you think your bullying days are behind you. For some they never are. I’m trying to think of the best way to say this.
Picture a group of children playing at a playground. They mostly stay in groups. But you will see a few loners. Across the street, unnoticed, is a man with a criminal record and a pair of binoculars watching the children who are alone. Why does he do this? He does this because these are children that are yearning for love and attention. They are most likely not going to fight back. They are the weak Gazelles in the pack.
Some people display certain mannerisms that give the impression they are “too nice” or “pushovers”. A bully’s dream.
If a person was a bully as a child, most likely they will continue to be one as an adult.
WHAT DOES BULLYING ACTUALLY MEAN?
When one person or a group of people are deliberately cruel to another person or group for any reason.
Victims of adult bullies usually find little sympathy from those around them. Why? As adults we are expected to be able to handle “criticisms” and “insults” without letting it bother us. Truth is, it does.
The problem with adult bullies is they are more difficult to expose. They’ve had years of practice, and hide behind positions of authority, money or other types of power. There is one thing all bullies have in common: they want to hurt someone.
HOW TO RESPOND
A bully’s bad behavior is their responsibility, not yours no matter what they say. Do Not Bother Trying To Find The Root Cause or “Understanding” how the person came to take such pleasure in being cruel to others. The only responsibility you have is to yourself! Self preservation from the emotional, social, or physical harm that a bully can cause.
Bullies can be subtle. Ask yourself some questions. When you leave the company of a specific person, do you feel worse but can’t explain why?
I have a few family members who when I spend time with them I feel like trash after. There were always subtle comments made. Backhanded compliments. “Oh, that’s a nice purse. I didn’t know Walmart carried anything that nice”. Or “You always dress so cute for a “girl your size”. And the same family member when drunk “You know you cut your wrists the wrong way honey” she cackled as she walked away. Or I should say as she tried to walk away because she was loaded most of the time.
I come from a large Irish/Scottish/Scandinavian family. The majority is Irish. My mom’s side says whatever they are thinking, drink, and are extremely loud. They were all born without filters. This doesn’t make them all bad. Some of their spouses on the other hand are a different story.
My mom was married once before but was widowed while pregnant with my brother. I have always thought of him as my “brother” and never my “half brother”. He was bullied mercilessly when younger. My mom taught him from birth until puberty that you are polite to adults and stay out of trouble. He was chubby and taller than the other kids. I can’t remember how many times he came home with a swollen bloody lip. So much so he earned the nickname “Fat Lip Phil”.
Unfortunately there came a straw that broke the camel’s back and change everyone forever.
The kids bullying my brother were older and bigger. But my brother had been going through a growth spurt of his own. My dad (his stepfather) was at his limit dealing with these kids parents and the kids themselves.
What I remember, and it could be I’ve chosen not to remember some things, is the snow and blood. I remember a big kid on top of my brother in the front yard. I remember my dad struggling with two of the other kids. They were almost the same size as him. I could see my brother’s eyes, the fear. I remember running outside in my pajamas, I remember biting the kid’s leg that was on my brother, I remember tasting denim and blood. After that I don’t remember anything.
I do know that my brother’s growth spurt didn’t stop until he was 6’3″ with a size 13 shoe and 200 and something pounds. This was by the time he was 15. The bullied became the bully. I know why, I know how, I can’t blame him. The things that were said and done to him, no one should have to endure. I shouldn’t have had to witness all of his violence either. Once in awhile his name did come in handy. My brother kept his father’s last name so it wasn’t the same as mine.
I admit I enjoyed seeing the fear in one person’s eyes after he had spit on me as a dare at a party. I was 16 and he was 19. It landed on my chest and not my face. The only thing that saved him. I stood up as tall as I could, I looked him directly in the eye, and I smiled.
He looked so confused. I asked him “Do you know Phil L_____?” he responded “Uh yeah.” I said “Great! Maybe we can both go tell him why you just spit on his sister, his favorite sister”. The look of fear and the apologizing and feeble attempts at trying to clean my shirt while I was wearing it, was worth it.
I didn’t use my brother’s name often. I never knew what type of response I would receive. Some people didn’t fear him, they loathed him. These people would take it out on me. Not fun. Plus, he had plenty of his own problems.
Bullies rarely change. There’s nothing you can say or do to make them feel like they should be
“nicer”. You have to change how you respond to their behavior. Expose them for the person they are and don’t back down. Exposure is their weakness. Don’t engage in the same behavior, they’re professionals and you’re not. When exposed they usually back off. When someone engages with them it feeds their need to control the situation or hurt someone. So even though it goes against everything that is screaming in my head I too have to refrain from engaging.