How To Deal With Bullies Effectively

By: Gabrielle Seunagal

Updated August 28, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn

When you hear the term bullying, you may think of childhood victims; you imagine a schoolyard bully verbally abusing another student or physically hurting them. The reality is that bullying doesn't just take place in schools; it can happen anywhere, whether that's at school, in the workplace, or at home. According to The Balance 2018, 19% of Americans have experienced bullying, and an additional 19% of Americans have seen bullying in the workplace. 61% of Americans understand that bullying happens in the workplace (they're aware of workplace bullying). As far as who is the bully at work, 61% are supervisors or bosses. The statistics show that adulthood bullying is just as pervasive as the bullying that occurs among children in schools. There are many ways to deal with bullying, and the most important thing to remember is that you don't have to tolerate abuse.


What Is Bullying?

Bullying is any cruelty or abuse where someone is harming another person, whether that's physical, emotional, or any other kind of abuse where the person feels unsafe. It can happen, as we mentioned, anywhere, and you don't have to tolerate being bullied. While bullying is never your fault, there are things that you can do about it. The first thing to remember is that you're not alone if you're being bullied. It's not your fault, and you deserve to speak up even if the bully makes you feel silenced. Here are some ways to effectively handle bullying.

  1. Walk away. If possible, don't engage with a bully. Leave the situation. Use your body and body language to display that you're apathetic and don't care what they're doing.
  2. If they're verbally abusive, think about something else. Again, show that you're apathetic. This works as a defense for the bullies that target others solely to get a reaction out of them. If you don't give them what they want, they'll be defeated eventually.
  3. Literally, yell the word "stop" and let them know that you're not okay with what you're doing. If people are around, this shows them that you're not afraid to speak up and bring attention to the situation. You don't need to put up with this, so as long as you feel safe doing so, let it be known.
  4. Stay positive at the moment, and remember that you're doing the best that you can. Remember that their abuse doesn't have to do with you. You matter. You're someone that objectively has value and this behavior. What they're doing is about them, and it doesn't say anything about your worth.
  5. Imagine a shield protecting you. Visualize a shield or forcefield that makes you feel safe so that you don't feel impacted by what they're saying. One of the things that bullies are great at doing is making a person feel physically unsafe, so it can be helpful to imagine a physical barrier.
  6. Say something funny. Humor sometimes catches a bully off guard. If you say something funny to a bully, they might be disarmed by what you're saying and not know how to respond.
  7. Kill them with kindness. Similar to a display of apathy or humor, this communicates that you aren't here to take their abuse. Being kind to someone who's being mean to you is a way to deflect the situation and make them feel guilty for treating you poorly, or at the very least, so confused that they stop.
  8. Create an army to combat the bullying. Many times, bullies target one person, but they won't necessarily attack a group of people. If you and your friends stand up against a bully together, they'll be less likely to target an individual because they are outnumbered.


Getting Help

You might be afraid to reach out for help. You may be anxious to admit what's sometimes happening when you're being bullied. It could be scary or intimidating to talk to someone about this situation. What if they don't believe you? Maybe they won't understand what's going on. You must push through that anxiety and talk to someone about what's going on. Whether you're emotionally or physically bullied, it's important to tell someone if you're being bullied or feeling unsafe. If you're in a school situation, tell someone with higher authority such as a teacher or tell your parents. A guidance counselor may also be able to help you. If you're at work, don't be afraid to bring it to the HR department or to another team member that you trust who might be able to help.


Among the many types of bullying is cyberbullying. One of the most covert ways to bully someone in modern society is by doing it online. No one can see what's happening because it's all under the surface. Cyberbullying is dangerous because of its potential to go unnoticed or not be taken seriously because of people who say that it's "just the internet." The truth is that since the internet is a big part of our lives these days, it's not "just the internet," and cyberbullying can harm people in very real ways. It can also cross over to in-person bullying. Someone might defame you online or bully you via social media. You could get an influx of spam or threatening emails. Remember that if this is happening, you can document what's going on. Take screenshots and keep everything so that you can prove what's going on and show the documentation to someone that has the authority to do something.


Types Of Bullying

There are many types of bullying. Here's a list of the different ways that people bully. It's crucial to understand them, so you know if any of them are happening to you or someone you love. Bullying isn't always name-calling or physical harassment. It can be done online or in a relationship. Check out the list below to see what kinds of bullying exist, and what the signs are.

  • Physical bullying, which includes any physical interaction, whether that's being hit or pushed, harassed, or publicly humiliated.
  • Verbal bullying, where someone teases, insults, or verbally abuses you.
  • Cyberbullying, where someone uses technology to hurt others.
  • Relationship bullying, where someone bullies their partner in a romantic relationship. It can take place in a variety of ways, whether it's name-calling, spreading lies about you to your friends and family, stonewalling, gaslighting, or abusing you in any other manner.
  • Workplace bullying, which occurs in the workplace specifically but can present in multiple ways.

Workplace Bullying

As stated previously, bullying doesn't just occur at school or among children. Adults get bullied all the time. One place that we see bullying take place in society is at work. Workplace bullying is extremely real, and people can be bullied in the workplace in a variety of ways. A common way that this presents is when people in positions of power attempt to dominate coworkers and make them feel that they have no choice but to do what they say. You don't have to tolerate workplace bullying. You can report the behavior to a supervisor or someone in the HR department. If your bully is a supervisor, you can still stand up for yourself and tell the HR department or get the law involved if necessary. You don't have to leave your job to stop the bullying; it's essential to stick up for yourself. Coming forward about bullying in the workplace could help future employees avoid getting bullied by an individual, so it's very important to make the issue known.


Confronting a bully can be daunting, but it's something that can help you combat the abuse. You may be afraid of confrontation when it comes to bullying, and that's natural. A bully wants you to be afraid of confronting them, and that's the power that they hold over you, but that power is imaginary. If you face a bully, you defuse their power. As scary as it is, confronting them and telling them to stop or learning to fight back in whatever capacity will defuse the situation and help you gain power over the situation.


Online Therapy

When you need to discuss your feelings and get through the trauma of bullying, therapy can help. Talking with a mental health professional can provide you the clarity you need to fight back against the abuse. There are a lot of strong emotions that come out as a result of the trauma of bullying. You may feel angry, frustrated, or depressed. It's crucial to talk about these feelings with someone who understands. Online therapy is an excellent place to discuss bullying and open up about what you're going through rather than keeping those emotions inside. Bullying can result in trauma, and it's essential to address that pain. Your feelings are valid, and you deserve support. The counselors at BetterHelp care about your trauma and want to help. The wounds of bullying can stick around long after the abuse occurs, so don't be afraid to reach out for help and talk about it. Your bully doesn't deserve to have power over you anymore. If you're facing a bully, an online therapist can help you to combat the behavior and will give you a private, safe place to reveal what's going on so you can get the help and support you need.

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