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How to Deal With Bullying

Types of Adult Bullies

There are numerous different types of adult bullies, some of which include:

Tangible/material bully: These types of bullies use their formal power, such as when in a position as a boss or manager. Or, they have some sort of authority or control over the other person's finances and use it to intimidate others.

  • Verbal bully: A verbal bully shames and insults the other person with their words. Often, they offer constant criticism or engage in cruel teasing. Sometimes the language used by this type of bully is sexist, racist, homophobic, or threatening.

  • Passive-aggressive bully: While not always considered a bully, this type is the most cunning in some ways because they act amicable on the outside but then take unexpected swings. They also engage in gossip, sarcasm, and hurtful jokes. They may roll their eyes, make rude facial expressions, and ridicule their victims by mimicking. They might also isolate their targets, causing them to feel anxious and insecure.

  • Cyberbully: This person bullies their victims through a computer, cell phone, or other electronic device. Cyberbullying is a significant problem for teens, especially LGBTQ teens and those who are White or multi-racial. Regardless, anyone can be a victim of emails, text messages, and social media posts designed to bully them. 

  • Physical bully: Physical bullies can exhibit a range of behaviors, from simulating violence by raising their fists as if about to strike to throwing and breaking objects to violent acts of physical, domestic, and sexual abuse.

Mental Health Effects of Bullying

Bullying can affect our mental health short and long term. Both victims and perpetrators of bullying face:6

  • Behavioral problems

  • Emotional issues

  • Increased risk of mental health conditions, such as depression

  • Reduced self-esteem

  • Troubles socially and in school

Adult bullying can have harmful effects on bystanders as well. One study found that people who witness bullying tend to have more psychological symptoms.

How to Deal With Being Bullied

If you are being bullied, it's essential to know that it's not your fault. The only person at fault in such a situation is the bully. Nevertheless, here are some things you can do to deal with it:

Don't Engage

Verbal bullies hope that you engage with them so that they have an excuse to keep picking on you. If the bully isn't disrupting your personal or work life, don't engage with them. When the bully starts verbally attacking you, remove yourself from the situation if you can. If it's safe for you to do so, simply walk away. 

Many people who bully have many unresolved issues that cause them to act out. While this doesn't excuse their behavior, having a conversation with the bully might help them realize just how much their actions are hurting you and hopefully deter them from continuing. 

Report It

If the bully refuses to let up after having a conversation with them, you should take the issue to a higher authority. If it's happening at work, you should take it to your boss, or if it's happening at school, you can report it to a teacher. If you feel at risk of physical harm from the bully, you should consider involving the police. 

Recite Positive Affirmations

Try as you might to ignore the bully when they are saying ugly things about you; some of these things might stick in your mind. It's important to remember that, in many cases, bullies are only projecting their insecurities onto you and none of what they are saying about you is accurate. Use positive affirmations to remind yourself that you are a great person and nothing your bully says matters. 

Protect Your Personal Space

If a family member is bullying you in your home, draw firmer boundaries and protect your personal space. This might involve telling a family member living with you to move out or moving out yourself if you can afford to. 

Get Help

Getting help to deal with a bully, especially as an adult, might seem embarrassing, but don't hesitate to get help when you feel like you need it.

Things You Shouldn't Do When You are Being Bullied 

If you are being bullied, remember that you are the victim, and it's not your fault. However, there are a few things you should avoid in any scenario that you are being bullied:

Don't Blame Yourself

Bullying is never your fault. It's only the bully's fault, so don't blame yourself for their shortcomings. 

Don't Bully Others

Don't take out your frustrations on other people. If you are being bullied by someone in a position of power over you, it can be easy to let the feelings of frustration out on a subordinate. Resist the urge to do this because this would make you a bully too.

Don't Disrupt Your Life

Don't disrupt your day-to-day life because of a bully. Skipping work, school, or a family function can be tempting because you'll be confronted with the bully. Don't let them disrupt your life. The exception to this is if it's unsafe for you to be in close proximity to the person who is bullying you.

Don't Retaliate

While it might seem tempting to pay back the bully's actions in kind, you shouldn't retaliate if you are being bullied. Many bullies hope to elicit an adverse reaction from you when they bully you. Denying them this satisfaction can take away some of their power. 


Dealing With Being Cyberbullied 

Cyberbullying is a phenomenon that has become more common.  Cyberbullying takes place in digital spaces like social media, and you might never meet the person bullying you.



The first thing you should know is that you shouldn't engage with them. Cyberbullies, like every other bully, feed off your response. You can also block their accounts from viewing and interacting with yours.

There's no one way to deal with bullies. Different tactics apply in different scenarios. Bullying is a horrible thing to deal with, and no one deserves to be bullied. While you can try to work out issues with the bully yourself, report to a higher authority if you feel threatened or overwhelmed.

For instance, if your manager is bullying you at work, take the issue to their boss. If you find that you are having a difficult time dealing with the emotional aftermath of being bullied, please don't hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional.


What makes the CBT approach a particularly fitting method for the bullying issue?

One of the most effective therapies in addressing the emotional distress caused by bullying is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Bullying has been correlated with anxiety, depression, poor self-image, substance abuse, and suicide. CBT is the most widely acclaimed, trusted, and research-supported treatment method for these issues. CBT teaches individuals to better understand their thoughts and feelings in relation to the situation. Furthermore, it teaches individuals how their thoughts and feelings influence their actions and ultimately their behavior.

In regards to bullying, oftentimes teens who are bullied are not aware of their self-defeating thoughts and destructive behaviors. CBT helps individuals realize their maladaptive coping mechanisms and works on replacing them with more positive ones.

For example, teens who have been bullied may struggle with self-worth and confidence. Their negative thoughts about themselves affect how they see situations, magnify their insecurities, increase their negative self-talk, and result in feeling worse about themselves. CBT will tackle destructive thinking patterns, confront distortions, break down the wall of self-doubt and help the victim regain confidence and control of his/her life.

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