Why Someone Is Picking on You: The Causes of Bullying
By Sarah Fader
Updated December 18, 2018
Reviewer Tiffany Howard, LPC, LCADC
Believe it or not, there are often serious underlying issues that cause a bully to target someone. While these causes are not justification for a bully's actions, they do shed some light on why these people pursue violence and power over someone. Is someone currently bullying you at school or work? If so, here are some of the causes of your bully's behavior.
- Helplessness and a Lack of Control
People who feel helpless and out of control in their personal lives and who have not developed healthy coping mechanisms often search for other ways to express their frustration. For some, this may be drinking or self-harm. For others, they will choose to harm others physically and emotionally to regain some control over something in their lives.
- Violence at Home
Home violence is not a rare occurrence among those who choose to bully others. When these people are constantly being abused at home, they feel as though their only option to get out that anger and pain are to victimize someone else. Bullies will often bully because this is what they are taught to do in their household. To battle this cause of bullying, the abuse happening at home needs to be addressed immediately.
- They View You as a Threat
People who see you as a threat to any aspect of their life will try to remove you at any cost. If you are more successful, more attractive, or just moving into an area of their life that they don't want to be changed, they may bully to try to get you to go away or to make you feel so bad about yourself that you can't thrive in that area.
- Poor Self-Esteem
Continuing from the previous point, people who choose to bully others may be doing so because they suffer from low self-esteem. When they see someone who is much more confident or better looking, they feel poorly about themselves and decide that the best course of action to take is to bring the other person down so that they are at their level. If this is allowed to continue, it can create an extremely toxic relationship dynamic that will cause serious damage to the way the other person acts and views themselves.
- A Need for Attention (Even the Negative Kind)
Bullies who feel that they are not getting enough attention from their peers or their families will resort to taking part in negative behaviors to have all eyes on them. In this case, bullying is almost always a cry for help rather than the result of other issues. If someone is bullying you because they need attention, tell them that this is not the best course of action to take and that there are plenty of people willing to listen and pay attention to them if they try hard to find the right people.
- The Pack Mentality
Let's imagine that you are at work or school and your class or your co-workers begin picking on you. Take a second to think about how this behavior started. Who was the first one to say something negative to you? Did the bullying start picking up after that first incident? How many people have joined in on the group bullying since that first time?
Some people will simply join in on a bullying situation because they feel as though that is an appropriate reaction. If they witnessed you being bullied and saw that you had no negative reaction, they may choose to side with the bully and continue with this behavior to make the lead bully happy and to continue with this "fun."
- They Don't Tolerate Some Part of Your Personality
People who aren't comfortable in their skin cannot usually tolerate people who are. If you're of a different race, sexual orientation, or religion than another person, they may choose to bully you because of these qualities. They may also choose to target you because certain prejudices have been passed down through their family. Luckily, these types of bullying situation fall under the "hate crime" category and can be reported as such.
- An Over-sized Ego
People who believe that they are more important than others or who have managed to achieve success and fame may be more prone to bully others. They have been taught that because they are popular and successful, they are allowed to say whatever they want to whoever they want. This may be because they love to exercise their power over others and feel better when they have control over how people feel. Unfortunately, this cause of bullying can only be battled once someone realizes that they are not as important as they think they are and when they realize that they have to treat people better to get farther in life.
The most important thing to remember in any situation involving bullying is that it is never your fault. No matter what the cause of the bullying is and no matter what the bully may lead you to believe, it is always on them, and you should never have to deal with that kind of behavior. Yes, it is true that some of their behavior is a direct result of mental health issues and situations that have occurred in their lives, but it is never an excuse for how they treat you. They must seek help and fix this behavior on their own time.
Are you having issues as a result of a bullying experience? Has bullying left you anxious or unable to boost your self-esteem? If so, we recommend visiting https://www.betterhelp.com/start/. BetterHelp is an online counseling platform dedicated to providing affordable and convenient counseling to those who are new to therapy or who do not have the right counselor near them. Interested? Clicking on the link above will bring you to a page that will help connect you with the right online counselor for you!