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Bullying Causes Anxiety Disorders – and It’s Not Just Kids!

by Mike on August 25, 2008 · 39 comments

workplace bully sm Bullying Causes Anxiety Disorders   and Its Not Just Kids!Bullying among children has become a hot topic.

There are innumerable websites devoted to stopping bullying in schools. In addition, many studies have been done detailing the effects of bullying among young people. 

Adult bullying doesn’t receive the same amount of press. But it has been found that the social form of bullying doesn’t stop at childhood, but continues into adulthood. The same sorts of activities associated with childhood bullying are present in adults. Social bullying actions include:

  • Targeting a person’s social status to tear it down
  • Damaging a person’s relationships by shunning
  • Damaging a person’s reputation by spreading rumors
  • Excluding a person from social activities

Both childhood and adult bullying can cause Anxiety Disorders and depression. 

Bullying in childhood causes Anxiety Disorders and depression in young adults

Social bullying causes anxiety and depression

A recent study at the University of Florida discovered a link between social bullying in adolescence and Anxiety Disorders and depression in young adulthood. Allison Dempsey, the lead author, said,

Even though people are outside of high school, the memories of these experiences continue to be associated with depression and social anxiety. It was interesting to see these relationships still continue to exist even though they are in early adulthood now and in a completely different setting. … [T]his is a real problem and continues to be a real problem after students leave school.

While it is commonly thought that boys are the biggest bullies, girls participate in social bullying in equal numbers. The researchers found no gender differences in the link between social bullying and Anxiety Disorders and depression. 

Surprisingly, they also discovered that having friends or other positive social relationships didn’t lessen rates of Anxiety and depression in adulthood. Some children take the words and abuse to heart and begin to believe what’s being said about them. Eric Storch, co-author of the study, said,

Those types of negative thoughts are actually believed to be at the core of things like depression and anxiety. Behaviorally what starts happening is you avoid interactions and situations that could be quite positive for you.

Adult bullying in the workplace

Adult bullying most apparent in the workplace

Bullying patterns continue into adulthood, and can do as much or more damage. Adult bullying can occur in any setting, but it is most apparent in the workplace. There have been a number of studies dealing with adult bullying in the workplace. The main features of adult bullying they agree on are:

  • Threat to professional status — Belittling opinion, public professional humiliation, accusation regarding lack of effort.
  • Threat to personal standing — Name-calling, insults, intimidation, devaluing with reference to age
  • Isolation — Preventing access to opportunities, physical or social isolation, withholding of information
  • Excessive overwork — Undue pressure, impossible deadlines, unnecessary disruption
  • Destabilization — Failure to give credit when due, meaningless tasks, removal of responsibility, repeated reminders of mistakes, setting up to fail

Adult bullying in other settings

Adult bullying can occur anywhere

There are other settings besides the workplace where bullying can occur. Anywhere there is interaction between people is a possible setting for bullying. Neighbors bully, other church members bully, even your friends can bully you! Ask yourself if the person you are having trouble with:

  • Ignores you. Doesn’t say hello when you greet them. Doesn’t return phone calls or other messages.
  • Dismisses what you’re saying or “puts you down” while alone or in the presence of others.
  • Sabotages you or makes you look foolish, such as by “forgetting” to tell you about something important. Or if the person is a person in authority, sets you up to fail by making impossible demands of you?
  • Spreads rumors, lies and half-truths about you?
  • Frequently acts impatient with you, treating you like you are incompetent?
  • Blames and criticizes you?
  • Tries to intimidate you by by interrupting, contradicting and glaring at you and/or giving you the silent treatment?
  • Teases, ridicules, insults or plays tricks on you, especially in front of others?
  • Always insists on getting their own way and never apologizes?
  • Yells, points their finger, swears, insults or threatens you or call you names?

What is the result of bullying on the adult victim?

Adult bullying causes anxiety and depression

Studies of adult bullying have shown that at the very least, adult bullying causes anxiety and mild depression. But such behavior, especially when persistent, also has been shown to be the cause of Anxiety Disorders and clinical depression, as well. 

Just as in children, people susceptible to Anxiety Disorders and clinical depression take the bullying actions to heart, and begin to believe the bully’s actions reflect their true nature. This leads to an escalation of the kinds of thoughts that lead to diagnosable mental illnesses.

In particular, the sort of destabilizing effects that adult bullying causes can be a major factor in the development of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Phobia and panic attacks leading to Panic Disorder.

What frequency of bullying causes Anxiety or depression?

A single action is not enough

The frequency of bullying actions that can then be called a pattern of bullying are a subject of debate. The definitions of a number of studies vary widely:

  • One incident per week, with incidents occur over a period of at least 6 months
  • Several incidents over the past six months
  • A single threatening act of bullying, i.e. no pattern is required

The definition I believe is the most accurate is the second, several incidents over the past six months. I have been the victim of, and have witnessed, many incidences of adult bullying, and they all fall within this definition. Less frequent bullying actions, though still upsetting, are usually not enough to trigger severe Anxiety Disorders or depression.

What can you do about adult bullying?

Five choices for handling bullying

A full discussion of what you can do about adult bullying is outside the boundaries of this article. However, the Bully Free Workplace site lists these five possible choices for handling workplace bullying:

  • Avoidance – A refusal to engage in the bullying. This is the most prevalent tactic, and typical of Anxiety Disorders. This is a not very effective method.
  • Taking the conflict and submitting – Very frequently used, especially when there is low confidence and self-esteem, symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Social Phobia. This method is not very effective.
  • Compete – You push hard to get your own way. Can lead to a vicious circle as conflict escalates.
  • Compromise – More win-win, but requires the good will of both parties.
  • Collaborate – Most useful tactic, particularly with extreme conflict and workplace bullying. Both parties must have ownership and commitment to the solution.

What do you think?

As mentioned, I have been the object of bullying several times, and I have seen it happen to a number of others. I can say without question that bullying, both as a child and particularly as an adult, has contributed to the development of the Anxiety Disorders I have.

  • Have you ever been the victim of a bully, especially as an adult?
  • Do you identify with any of the characteristics of adult bullying?

As always, your comments are welcome!

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Resources used in this post:

Birdwell, April Frawley. (2008, April 22). Social form of bullying linked to depression, anxiety in adults. Retrieved August 23, 2008 from University of Florida News Web site: http://news.ufl.edu/2008/04/22/bullying-2/

Cade, Valerie. (2008). The Five Choices for Handling Workplace Bullying. Retrieved August 23, 2008 from Bully Free Workplace Web site: http://www.bullyfreeatwork.com/blog/

Cowie, Helen. (1999, December). Adult Bullying. Retrieved August 23, 2008 from TMR Network Project Web site: http://old.gold.ac.uk/tmr/reports/aim2_surrey1.html

Science Daily. (2008, April 23). Social Form of Bullying Linked to Depression, Anxiety in Adults. Retrieved August 23, 2008 from Science Daily Web site: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080422143529.htm

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Jane Deere August 26, 2008 at 9:04 am

Adult bullying! That is the cause of my anxiety. I can’t believe it actually happens in the adult world. I am still shocked! I sold my business a few years ago and the “wolf in the lambs suit” immediately started spreading rumors about me. When I became aware of the assassination of my character I was beside myself. I basically went into hiding! I couldn’t take a chance of people confronting me or seeing them whisper behind my back. This came on top of the grieving I was trying to work thru from the death of my sister (and business partner). I still wonder why?

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Mike August 26, 2008 at 1:11 pm

People have a lot of reasons for bullying, among them jealousy, envy and lack of self-confidence. I didn’t get into the reasons for adult bullying because it would have made the article twice as long!

Although we think that bullying is limited to children, I believe adult bullying is actually far more prevalent. It’s not out in the open because it doesn’t involve physical violence as much.

I’m sorry about your sister and the bullying you suffered upon the sale of your business. It must have been awful. Just remember that Anxiety is very treatable with good therapy and possibly medications.

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Kay Dennison August 27, 2008 at 9:09 pm

Bullying is so very prevalent in our society today. It’s like the world is made of control freaks and the minute I find myself around one, I separate myself because if I don’t a panic attack will occur.

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Mike August 27, 2008 at 11:33 pm

Thank you for your comment, Kay!

I, too, tend to avoid bullies as “crazy-makers.” They cause and have caused me much grief.

But avoidance is one of the primary characteristics of Anxiety Disorders, and I know that one of these days (I shudder at the thought) I will have to learn how to stand up to them.

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протезирование зубов September 1, 2008 at 3:00 pm

Побольше б таких штук…

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Diana January 29, 2009 at 7:47 pm

I know this is an old post – but I am moved to write because I need to take issue with the ‘definition’… particularly the time frame.
My bully was my supervisor and we worked together until 3 days before the end of my three month probation period.. at which point she had me fired. It has been a little over a year since I first started that job and I am still suffering with anxiety. I am almost three months into my second job since that one and I am feeling overwhelmed – I doubt everything I do – I feel I have no right to stick up for myself – I think everyone there secretly hates me.
She did a number on me in only three months, name calling, pubicly berating me, rule-changing, heaping on the pressure, leaving when she was needed and then getting angry when any decisions were made without her go ahead. It was soul-destroying. And then to be FIRED.. I have been a mess. Just a mess.

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Kay Dennison January 29, 2009 at 8:17 pm

Wel, I can definitely relate and understand as I’m going through something similar as I type. The worst part is that it involves a federal program and others are receiving the same abuse. I have decided that I’m not going quietly. I’m calling my Congressman and we’re going to have a sit down. I’ve also decided what that I’n going to take the same stance I’ve taken in the past when I needed a job. I tell myself, “You were looking for a job when you found this one.” I know employment is thin on the ground in this country but something is out there. Don’t give this woman another iota of power over you. She doesn’t deserve a second thought. I know it’s not easy but allowing it holds you back from moving on to better things.

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Olegreze September 9, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Основная задача Яндекса — давать ответы на вопросы пользователей!

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Linda October 10, 2009 at 10:23 am

I never knew adult bullies existed til it happened to me about 7 years ago. I got married very young and dropped out of High school. I’m still married to Paul for 45 years now. In 1979 I got a job in a school cafeteria. Five years later I was so proud to become the cafeteria manager. Then one day a bully custodian turned my life upside down. He stripped me of everything, including my dignity, pride, and sanity. I had no choice but to go to my superiors for help. No mater what they did to him, he managed to outwit them and still torment me in new ways. I finally asked if I could be moved to another one of our schools. They were happy to do so. I worked for the next 6 years under a nice cafeteria manager in a trance. I took early retirement and am now am seeing a Psychiatrist for mental disorders because of it. I didn’t know something like that existed til it happened to me. I was always nice to and respectful to others but I guess that means squat when someone is out to get you. I still don’t know why.

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Honeypeaches October 6, 2010 at 1:50 am

I am glad to see blogs like this and an article written like this because adult bullying is a learned behavior. Even as a child learn to be that way or have had things to happen to them that causes a person to be that way. When grows into adulthood, the bully attitude has never been dealt with such as boundaries, discipline, lack of love, envy, jealousy, and ect. They take kind persons and see their kindness as a weakness.
I was very much bullied at my job. I believe more incidents in adult bullying and bullying in the work place is going to come to a head. And as a result to picking on people, degradating their character, and making a person feel like they are a failure is going to caused a “harrassment lawsuit.”
How about that for Corporate America. Maybe if more lawsuits like happens, then more jobs will be saved and unemployment can go down. Bullies run in packs and knows each others communication code. When it comes down to it, they are scared insecure fol

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claudine November 19, 2010 at 4:25 am

I have endured a long time friendship that would constantly belittle me either on our own or in front of people, she would ignore me when in large groups upset me and make me feel like i’m crazy. She would disagree with anything I had to say, she would also make me believe I had no fashion sense and would not dress appropriately for my age (I am 7 years older than her). She accused me of trying to steal her life because my husband and I became friends with some of her friends and bought a house up the road from her (something she seemed to be happy about at the time). She made lies up about me trying to convince others I was crazy and purposly excluded us from social gatherings. Everytime I would recluse to try and break away from the friendship she would have it out with me and try and twist things around to try and pas the blame onto me for our issues or come up with excuses for her behaviour. I felt sorry for her because her father is very abusive and she had to endure a frightening childhood living in fear that her Dad might murder her mother. It took me a while but I have realised that the friendship is affecting my marriage and other friendships I feel it is a form of Adult bullying which has damaged my self esteemed and caused me constant anxiety. I have now stopped the friendship but I still feel anxious about what my mutual friends think of me as I have refrained from getting involved in all the gossip. This has also been a very sad year for me as I lost my Dad on new years day and have just suffered a miscarriage I’m trying to stay strong and try and believe that this is not my issue it is hers but it is so hard. The history and memories of the good times are so difficult to try and forget. I don’t know if anyone else has experienced what I have and if they have any words of advice for me I look forward to any responses.

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Susan December 22, 2010 at 10:36 pm

I was bullied by a couple, old school friends of my husband. We were “friends” for over 40 years, but over time they became more and more self-centered, she became more manipulative in a very covert way, and he started pushing my ‘hot buttons’ every chance he got. With her, I realized many years ago that the only reason she ever asked me a question (how are the kids?) was so that I would ask her the same question back … instead of just telling me what was new with her kids, she always came in through this conversational back door. For years she would ask me a question and in the middle of my answer either interrupt with a change of subject, or turn around and start talking to someone else. When I was advised by a psychologist to turn the tables and do the same thing to her, the behavior stopped like magic, so I know she knew what she was doing. Her husband over the past few years just got meaner and meaner, “all in good fun.” My husband is so good-natured, I finally had to point out to him what was happening, because he was joining in what he thought was light-hearted banter. He has finally written them a note telling them gently that their behavior was stressful to me and we probably wouldn’t be seeing them again. Since they were his old friends, the note needed to come from him. Now I’m waiting to see what their reaction will be. No matter what, though, I know I didn’t deserve the treatment I was getting, and I don’t intend to put myself through it again. Sometimes there’s no need to stay in a bad situation.

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Cate January 16, 2011 at 6:08 pm

I belong to a twelve recovery program where a man who was a very good friend of my husband and I suddenly is not speaking to us He has been coming to our home group meeting and making faces at us, making fun of us. belittling other people. I was bullied when I was in jr high and where I was also sexually abused by a teacher. I am now not sleeping at night and have a tight chest. I have talked to a few people about this and they say they don’ want to gossip or judge this other person. I talked to my sponsor and she wants me to be nice to him and shake his hand and thank him for being there. because the group was more important. Other people were getting upset that there was tension in the room. My husband has been doing that every time he is there. The last time he went to shake his hand the bully slapped it away. My husband says he needs to stay in there for his recovery and will not leave the group. I am sick to my stomach all the time and I feel isolated and alone. It does not feel safe for me to go. We have tried everything to resolve the conflict and He is unwilling to do anything. Is it healthy for me to stay in that situation?

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Ally Mallette April 25, 2011 at 4:24 pm

im turning 13 in 3 days (28th of april) and ive been bullied a million times and lost a lot of friends then i tired ignoring them and it stopped in 3 days!!!!!!!!!!!!im so happy. I dont even care i lost a handful of friends cuse now i know who my real friends are. The popular kids only have fake

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Sue July 2, 2011 at 11:13 pm

I have been bullied so much at work especially since 2004 when I got a disease from a flu shot and I became a partially disabled. Didn’t have the strength that I once had and people didn’t like the fact I was on modified work and I got harassed and bullied so much that I developed Major Depression became a Cutter and have Suicide thoughts. I have been an employee there for 27 years. 9 weeks after the open in my hometown and they treat me like crap. My DR says I don’t have P.T.S.D but I feel I do because I can’t stop thinking about my workplace and I am now afraid to go to work and I am only 48 years old. I can’t work 40 hours a week due to my Physical and Mental Health issues I only do about 30 hours and that is affecting me financially.

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Ibrahim September 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm

No matter how much you’re on the wrong road, you can turn back and recover anytime, without medication. It is not healthy to take medication for things like that because they sometimes trigger suicide and they make you dependent.

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Sue September 4, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Ibrahim If you are having suicidal thoughts Medication can be a life saver it has been for me. It has change me for the better. It is not perfect medication alone won’t solve all the problems. Talk therapy with it helps. When you have a chemical imbalance in the brain that needs medication to put it right then I will do it. I wouldn’t still be taken them if I felt they were hurting me. Everybody is different some needs the medication and some don’t. I know I need it.

Sue

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Terilyn October 9, 2011 at 3:22 am

Mr. Nicols–I am researching an artical on adult gossiping as a form of bullying, a subject that is damaging lives here in small-town Alberta. The effects of “coffee shop talk” have even resulted in police investigations that left families in ruins and local authorities with an unfounded crime. Would I be able to send you questions or, better still, discuss this subject on the phone?
Thank you for any time you can give me on this subject.

Yours,
T. Paulgaard
Provost, Alberta
albertaluckygirl@hotmail.com

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Gerard October 17, 2011 at 4:57 am

I was an outgoing, lively child until adolescence and Junior High when my elder brother started bulling me severely and often in front of my parents and he successfully got away with it, telling them he was “joking”. When he became violent, he always had a good “excuse” and my parents usually accepted it. If my father tried to discipline him, my mother would start a fight with my father and say that I provoked it and I somehow “deserved it”. Since then I have experienced adult bullying including from my elder brother who still bullies me. On a couple of occasions he even has been violent towards me as an adult. I try to keep him at arms length but unlike friends, it is more difficult to cut off a sibling. Also, a number of my extended family, cousins etc take the cue from my elder brother and join in the bullying. I have cut them off to various extents. I suffer endemic low self esteem and lack of confidence. I have become quite socially isolated. I find that when I am at a low point with one bully, I am more susceptible to bullying by others. At times I become impatient and argumentative and at other times timid and withdraw into my shell. I know I am not dealing with it effectively but as an adult man I feel it is socially less acceptable to admit to being bullied and nobody including counsellors seem to take the situation seriously. A couple of friends have lately confided to me that they feel similar things and it has socially isolated them also. I think we need to form a social support network and share experiences on how to educate society about the harmful effects of adult social bullying (just like we are doing with school and workplace bullies) so that it becomes socially unacceptable. Does anyone have any thoughts?

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Alicia January 10, 2012 at 9:24 pm

I was bullied relentlessly from the time I was about 7 and I don’t really think it has stopped to this day. Of course, that just could be my paranoia talking because of how awful the torture I recieved was. I went to a very small Catholic school from grades1-8, and from grades 3-8 I had not one single friend. I sat alone, just trying to keep myself low enough on the radar so people would just forget about me. It would have been better than the torture. Unfortunately, I never really got that lucky. I attempted to talk to the adults in my life and responses I got ranged from pray about it to, “If you didn’t let them know it bothers you, they will stop.” I don’t remember a single one of them ever getting in trouble for the things they said about me or did to me. I actually went to the principal and she basically told me it would only make my situation worse. When my parents didn’t/couldn’t help me, I gave up my faith in anything. I started acting out as I got older, but of course it was all my fault. I am 27, and today I finally cut my mother out of my life. I have let her make me cry for the last time. The truth is, my mom really didn’t do ANYTHING to help. She never tried being friendly towards me, even though she knew I had no friends(when a girl never gets invited to a sleepover, a phone call, a trip to the movies, etc. you’d think you’d step up). Having children of my own, I now know how my mom acted was wrong. I could never do that to my daughters. This torture has affected my whole life. I dropped out of college, not because I wasn’t able to do the work, but because I always felt like it would never be good enough. I haven’t really even tried to figure out what I want to do with my life, even though I know I am capable of more than this. I have cut off any relationships that I did have, besides my husband, because I don’t feel like I can trust anyone to be my true friend. Too many people have hurt me. I am so lonely. I wish I could talk to someone about this, but I don’t have insurance and my limited means + no insurance= no treatment. Ironically, I feel if I hadn’t been subjected to the torture I was, I might actually be a successful person with a decent job with benefits. I wouldn’t need the treatment if it weren’t for the experiences though. I don’t know what, if anything, I have accomplished by writing this but at least there are fewer tears coming out now.

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Pat February 7, 2012 at 6:41 pm

The only good thing about bullying in the workplace is that it has another name – harrassment – and there are federal laws about that. Anytime one feels they’re being “bullied” in the workplace, trust me, it’s harrassment. All they have to do is mention “EEOC” to their HR Department, and the matter should get resolved quickly. If it doesn’t, then they should definitely file with the EEOC. But filing needs to be done within six months of the occurrence(s). If the company doesn’t do anything about it, then the victim has two things to look forward to: either job security for life or lots of money from the lawsuit! See, just about every cloud has a silver lining.

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Vivian February 17, 2012 at 5:26 am

Alicia, i’ve never heard anyone describe the story of my life, as you just did. I was bullied all the way through school, and i have no trust in anyone liking me. I have cut off friendships, and now i only have my bf, and my 2 children. I feel very lonely. My parents and teachers didnt do anything about it either, and now it is influencing my whole life. I am a bright girl, and im sure i could have gotten a better education and job, but my anxiety for not being good enough, or being bullied again, holds me back. Im even having a hard time trusting my bf, because i feel that any other girl would be a better choice than me. Bullying sure destroys lives :S

Sorry for my english, im from Denmark ;)

Vivian

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Maisey March 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm

I have been bullied all my life, from the age of 4 now in my 50s still being bullied by older siblings, workplace managers, colleages, I seem to attact them. I am not confrontational, but it has caused me a major health break down. Its not in my nature to be rude to people, how can I shake off this type of attraction from colleagues, familly, and so called friends. do I need to change my personality to just toughen up

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Gerard March 21, 2012 at 11:36 pm

Maisey, I have been through similar experiences. I do not think you need to “toughen up”. That is just another way for bullies and an indifferent society to blame the victim. While we can do our best to cope individually, I believe that adult victims of bullying need to group together to further our cause by raising awareness of this problem and forcing an attitudinal change eg why are sociopaths hired as Managers and CEOs, why is promotion given to the most assertive and aggressive and extroverted people regardless of their qualifications. How can workplaces be more supportive rather than competitive etc. I would like to get a group like this together. One thing that is stopping people is they dont want to be identified as victims of bullying as there is a stigma associated with that and it is another way to blame the victim. To come out openly as a victim of bullying you run the risk of being seen as weak and self indulgent or immature or otherwise unable to care for yourself. We have to change this perception. You also make bullies feel uncomfortable and run the risk of inviting more bullying.

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pat July 9, 2012 at 5:10 pm

My own mother bullied me from as far back as I can remember, like when I was 12. I’m now 64 and after a real bad bullying incident by her back in November, I finally had to cut her out of my life completely and forever because my mental health was seriously affected this time. At 87, my mother has narcissistic traits and is a chronic alcoholic. I never got her approval for anything nor was I ever told by her she loves me. As a matter of fact, she told me she wished she never had kids. I have a wonderful husband and a good life, good relationships with other family and friends. Perhaps her motive is jealousy, and I won’t put myself in position anymore of more bullying by her. My mental health is at stake now as I age. I’m going to Al-Anon to help me heal.

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Maisy July 11, 2012 at 11:12 pm

I am an adult victim of social bullying. I think it has been going on for years, but the last wave, which I am sure of, has lasted for more than a year and is still ongoing. The man behind it is a public school teacher whom I barely know, who took a great dislike to me at a local club and spread a lie amongst his pupils that I fancy him. They all seem to believe him and ridicule me when they see me in the street. It doesn’t even stop at schoolchildren, their parents are involved too. I know none of these people and have only gradually realized who they are from the things they have said. I still don’t understand why they hate me so much. I know that I am different from these people, perhaps even most people. I have paranoid schizophrenia and dress a little oddly. My skin is not as white as theirs and I do not work because my illness prevents me. I have dropped out of university, owing to breakdowns partly provoked by bullying. Perhaps, then, this is why they hate me, yet it is still hard to understand. In March I had another breakdown as a direct result of their behaviour. I tried to kill myself, though now I am glad I didn’t succeed. My partner continues to support me through it all. Without him the loneliness would be unbearable. Yet because of my diagnosis, he remains unsure whether to believe me. I don’t think he wants to accept that ordinary people could be so cruel. But I should add that my psychotic symptoms are very well controlled by drugs and this experience is all too real.

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Gabby October 14, 2012 at 7:23 pm

I have been bullied my whole life and I’m scared of it happening again as I find a job. It is a serious problem and it leaves scars for years. What has kept me from giving up is my faith. (((hugs))) to others who have been bullied and know that you all are beautiful.

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Amber January 9, 2013 at 5:33 am

I recently enrolled in a private career college as a mature adult. The majority of people in my class are around my age or older, so I assumed I wouldn’t be in a high school setting again. Everyone was so friendly at first. I am shy so I didn’t go out of my way to talk to many people. This one girl became friendly with me. She was new in the class as was I, so we sat together. This girl was more outgoing than me and spoke to other people more frequently. She came across another girl and they were from the same country. For some reason, I was singled out by this new girl. Things just got worse from there. The friendly girl became her audience and this other girl not only singled me out but would make rude comments towards me, when I would speak she would say something witty to make me look dumb, etc. I didn’t speak up for myself because I felt she was larger in numbers. I tried avoiding her instead. It didn’t work. No matter what I seem to be a target for her. I don’t bother her, talk to her or anything but she talks about me. I have made witty comments back and she just keeps it up. I have no idea how to resolve this situation. I don’t understand why she is being so childish and would like it to stop because it is uncalled for. Am I making myself a target by sticking to myself? All I want to do is get good grades so I can pass my course and get on with my future.

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Vivian January 9, 2013 at 5:54 am

Hi Amber,
How mean of her to behave like that, im so sorry you have to go through that. You dont deserve it, no matter how shy you are, its no excuse for anyone to bully you.
She is the one with a problem, probably low self esteem, and trying to feel better about herself, or make sure, that she doesnt lose her friend to you?
How do others in your class react to it? how do they treat you?

I think its best to behave in an adult manner, and simply ask her why she says what she says, and that you would like her to stop. Dont raise your voice, just speak calmly. If others in your class are safe ppl (not bullying you), make sure they hear it!!
You want them to see you like you are the adult in that conflict. A person with self respect enough to say enough! I wont take that treatment from you!

I know its probably easier said than done, its not easy, and bullying hurts like hell.. But it will make you seem incredibly stong, if you are able to talk calmly and set firm limits with her, and still let your vulnerability shine through. (hope you know what i mean)

Hugs and best wishes

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Amber January 10, 2013 at 1:38 am

Thanks Vivian. That is probably the best advice yet. I have no problems with anyone else in the class so I know it’s just her. I’ve caught her talking about a few people when they weren’t around to defend themselves. I really need to stand up for myself and that is about the only thing I haven’t done. I don’t worry about what she spreads or who she tries to make believe her. I know the truth and that is all that matters. It’s terrible that we live in such a cruel world. I wish we could all be ….at least civil to one another. Cheers!

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Mark January 12, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Hi All,

I have to say that as i read all the above comments, it gives me strength to know that I am / we are not alone. I think any one who has been bullied should always try to remember this because that is how you feel when you are bullied – alone and that you can easily be made to feel that it is you who has the problem – which is false. The facts are that “we” the above should never forget that it is not our fault and that the problem is with the bully. We can also only begin to understand this when we start to question why we have been picked to be the victim. Nice, kind people are vunuerable I have found and I would not want to be any other way !

I won’t tell you my story so far because its too long and complex, but I will tell you that support from those close, talking about how you feel and writing a plan of repair will help. There is help out there on the web including self help guides for us.

The most important thing I have found is to get back to liking yourself and thinking of all the things you have achieved.
Make a list of these and look at them to remind you of who you are and what you have achieved. This is one of the many paths for self repair as the bully can take these away from you over time. Your job / Our job is to recognise this and restore what has been taken after we have been bullied.

We are all different and as long as we keep talking but just as important – TAKING ACTION, we can pull through. My last 3 lines also aim to help:

1. Learn to love and like you, don’t let anyone try and take that away.
2. Stand up to them or stay away from them !
3. Look forward and not behind you !

Mark x

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Amber January 12, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Thank you Mark. I have came to terms that my problem is not me. The bully is obviously the ignorant one. It is never right to look down on anyone no matter what…well, unless you’re helping them up :p I would rather be by myself than be surrounded by idiots. It’s not the worst thing in the world to sit alone or to not fit in. Most people are just copies of other people because they are so desperate to fit in and not be “alone”. I find the loneliest thing is to be surrounded by the wrong people than to be by yourself. We are just as important as anyone else!

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B-dawg April 19, 2013 at 7:35 am

Children who get bullied, are weaklings.
ADULTS who get bullied, are EXTREME weaklings. What more needs to be said? Except that as our species continues to degenerate genetically due to a lack of selection pressure (as a result of modern medicine, easy access to food, welfare ect.) we will see more and more defective, immature, weak people who get picked on into adulthood.

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Vivian April 19, 2013 at 7:41 am

I have studied bullying and know all about the mechanisms that lies behind it. B-dawg, you simply dont know what you are talking about, so keep your mouth shut, and go study. The reason our species degenerate is because of ignorant ppl playing smart about things they dont know anything about.

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B-dawg April 19, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Vivian, you have not really studied bullying; you have told yourself comforting lies about it – which I’m sure you have your moments of doubt about… because you KNOW what the truth is, even though you don’t want to face it. That truth being, that some adults (the ones who get bullied into adulthood) are mentally slow, weak, and childlike – and they are the ones who attract the the attention of society’s crueler adults (who also tend to be society’s most successful and admired members.)
As society becomes more socialistic (welfare, free medical care ect.) and more weak/stupid people have more children, we will see more and more childlike, mentally weak adults result, who are prone to being picked on by the “alpha dogs”. Simple as that!

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The Vet November 4, 2013 at 1:32 pm

At the macro level, the “Alpha dogs” perpetuate greed, warfare and nazi-type survival of the “fittest” (meanest) ideas. If you think that’s fine, I feel sorry for you. Ultimately, they are “societally weak” because they are parasites and exploiters, kidding themselves they are strong by inflicting unjust tratment and misery on others. In the end, dogs like that are muzzled or put down.

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Vivian April 20, 2013 at 2:29 am

Oh yes your mind is very simple… believe what you want.. Dont want to waste time on someone who’s IQ is at least 50 below mine..

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Julie November 4, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Hello everyone. I have been bullied all my life. First by my family. I grew up with my dad giving me the silent treatment most of my life and my siblings never including me. My sister is the leader of my younger 2 brothers and I am 46 and never have been invited to their homes. I have invited all of them several times and now I am estranged from them. I started getting bullied when I entered the workforce 26 years ago. I work full time and have changed jobs every 2-3 years because the bullying gets so bad I have to look else where. I always get a new job before I quit the old but when I start the new my social anxiety skyrockets and people zero in on my nervousness and low self esteem and the cycle begins again. This time I have been working almost 3 years and my manager is bullying me. My coworkers most of them ignore me and never ignitiate conversation. I work 12 hour shifts and I try to talk to people but I feel that their is so much gossip about me that people don’t want to be seen talking with me too much. SO they make effort to not participate in conversation with me. I feel that everywhere I go this happens. TO make things worse I am a single mother of 3. With no help from anyone. I have been alone with my kids for 11 years. I make a lot of money in what I do so They have always been well taken care of. But all my efforts to make new friends don’t work because I have a BIG problem with eye contact. I also have mild autism with normal intelligence. I feel like people are seeing me as weird or crazy and stay away. The only thing that has kept me going in my faith in Jesus and my Kids. But right now I feel very traumatized and worry about my future in my job, friends and raising my kids as someone who is fighting a mental illness. I have kept in hiding about it because the stigma is so bad.

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