Are you being bullied?

We mostly associate bullying with teenagers and schoolchildren being targeted by mean classmates. However, the fact is that we never stop being bullied. Many adults suffer from intimidation, teasing, and criticism. Adult bullies are everywhere. They can be abusive romantic partners, rowdy neighbours, work colleagues, bosses, friends, or even strangers on the street. You might dismiss these encounters as a result of personality differences or someone having a bad day. But, adults get bullied almost as frequently as adolescents.  

Bullying has many levels and manifestations, but regardless of how subtle or excessive it may be, it can have a damaging impact on self-esteem. It involves rumours, threats, attacks- both physical and verbal or deliberate exclusion of someone from the group.

 This issue is often condoned in the workplace. It can take the form of a manager who is highly critical and consistently demands more work from you while dismissing you. Bullies among co-workers may propagate rumours, intimidate or insult one another. Bullying can take the form of gaslighting, mind games, severe criticism, or threats in the case of your family and friends. Regardless of where it occurs, it is difficult to acknowledge these indicators of bullying within close, intimate relationships and friendships. Trusting your instinct is sometimes the only way to recognize it. If you’re not comfortable, there is a good chance that you’re a victim of bullying. 

So how do I stand up for myself and take action?

1. Try as hard as to not take it personally: Always keep in mind that it isn’t about you. It's about them and their urge to feel overpowering. This reflects their insecurities, not your flaws. They are frequently threatened by you and want to make you feel more insecure.

2. Remain calm but keep your boundaries: It can be incredibly difficult not to fight back when a bully attacks you, but you have to do your best to be the bigger person and not stoop right down to their level. If they come after you again, tell them to stop. If they don't, simply leave. Try not to get involved. 

3. If it is a workplace bully, talk to your supervisor: Document their behaviour and report the abuse to a supervisor, preferably in human resources. Save each and every aggression- no matter how large or small- save emails and take screenshots of comments left on social media that document cyberbullying. Block them everywhere and limit all interactions to your work.

4. Know your legal rights and exercise them: Remember that you are not powerless. You have rights. Harassment is a punishable offence that can be reported. If you feel truly insecure around someone, seek help from a therapist. They can assist you in determining your level of danger and the best course of action to take without causing further physical or emotional injury.

Written by: Shagun Sharma


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