Here’s How You Figure Out Who the Real Bully Is

blame victim

Reactive bullying happens when a victim has taken so much abuse for so long that the pressure builds to the boiling point, the targeted person blows up or ‘snaps,’ lashing out at their tormentors. In essence, the victim “bullies them back.”

Believe me. I get that people can only take so much. I understand that victims are sick of it, and I’m with them. However, targets don’t realize that an explosive reaction is precisely what the bullies want. They want the target to snap. Bullies want the victim to blow up on them so they can then claim victimhood and make their victims look like the bully.

If you are a parent, teacher, supervisor, or manager, understand that bullies are experts at baiting a target into a reaction, then using the justified response as proof that the targeted person is “mentally unstable,” “crazy,” “a dangerous person,” “too sensitive,” or a “drama queen”!

Bullies also use the victim’s normal reaction to guilt and convince him/her that it’s all their fault and make statements such as:

“Well? Maybe if you wouldn’t get so overly emotional, you’d have friends!”

“If you didn’t overreact to everything, people would want to be around you more!”

In short, bullies gaslight their targets with statements like these to make excuses for the behavior and deflect the blame back onto the victims. And sadly, it works like a charm, and bystanders and witnesses believe the target is unstable.

Note: A perfect example is a scene in the movie “Home Alone” when the main character, Kevin McAllister’s older brother Buzz makes a fake apology to his family, then sneakily calls Kevin a trout-sniffer during a family meeting after the fiasco in the kitchen over Kevin’s cheese pizza. Notice how Buzz baits his younger brother Kevin into a reaction!

If you are a target, I want you to understand that there is a name for this. It’s called gaslighting, and it’s a trick to throw you off balance. Realize that every single human one of us is capable of losing our cool when we’re under that kind of pressure. After we’re attacked and subjected to vile treatment for so long, we snap and act a fool.

This is why teachers, supervisors, and others in authority must learn to distinguish between provocation and a reaction so that they will be able to identify the real bully and victim. And targets must also learn to tell the difference between the two so that instead of erupting, they can call it out when it happens.
Luckily, here’s a surefire sign to look for:

A victim who has only reacted always feels terrible about the way they acted once they’ve calmed down.

The real victim is usually the first to apologize for it.

A real victim will also not be afraid to admit they’ve made a mistake.

the sad girl has problems with mockery and bullying at school.

A bully, on the other hand, always has to be right and will never admit they’ve done anything wrong.

A bully will still place blame on the victim and be overly critical of the victim and the reaction.

Bullies will also use the tiniest screw-up or imperfection and make it bigger than it is. They are also excessively dramatic.

Please note that if the bully is a smooth talker, he might even admit to a few minor mistakes or wrongdoings. However, they will always follow that with the claim that the victim is at fault.

So, always look for these signs, and you’ll be able to peel the mask off the bully, layer by layer! Moreover, you’ll be able to protect and care for the victim!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

61 thoughts on “Here’s How You Figure Out Who the Real Bully Is

  1. This is all, sadly, true. Whenever I would fight back and lose my temper, I felt awful…someone might say “Why not bully them back?” But I didn’t want to hurt ANYBODY…and I still don’t. And parents, who are bullies, do this “gaslighting” constantly….It is almost an accepted way of raising children. Just sayin’ 👼👼👼

    • Haha you just explained my entire childhood relationship with my parents.

      “A victim who has only reacted always feels terrible about the way they acted once they’ve calmed down.

      The real victim is usually the first to apologize for it.”

      And this is very true :).

      Now that I’ve cut them all out, after a certain amount of time, now they are sad we are not in touch?? I’m not, I’m much happier haha.

      • My heart goes out to you, Robin. It’s bad enough to be targeted by people at work or school but it’s especially devastating when it’s your flesh and blood- the people who are supposed to love, protect, and nurture you. I’m proud of you for doing what you had to do to protect your mental health. With abusers, whether family or not, going no contact ID usually the best recourse. Sending you lots of love and light! 💫

  2. This was me, after being bullied for so long during the Human Right process I went thru. I lost it one day, even made threats of giving them some of my justice and calling children aid on them. I was writing a response to HRTO, and another of the nasty documents from my bullies, when I got so overwhelmed and wrote that, and also wrote that I was leaving now to go to the hospital. A few hours later, after I got home from the hospital, I had the Police show up to do a welfare check, as HRTO called them. Yes, I was very angry by this point and very overwhelmed with it all I couldn’t think straight. I asked the Police to arrest me and take me to jail that day, as I knew in jail I wouldn’t be subjected to their bullying. It was a very bad time for me and I still have some anger but it is slowly going away the more I learn, not just about bullies and narcissism, but also of myself. Your words the past few years has taught me so much and I thank you.

    • You’re so welcome, Stella. Oh, Lord, my heart goes out to you! I can’t imagine suffering that kind of bullying. I’m just so proud of you that you’re slowly healing, overcoming, and getting your life back. That’s a victory in and of itself! <3

  3. And sadly victims of abuse can become master gaslight experts. Our adopted daughter does this all the time and since she is adorable and charming many outsiders judged us recognizing her manipulations. It wasn’t until I started researching reactive attachment issues did I begin to understand the patterns. I needed to protect my sanity before I could begin to give her the help she needs.

    • I completely get that, Adrienne. And the reason victims do that is because they’ve been abused and relied on manipulation for survival. And once that happens, it’s hard to get out of doing it because the brain has been hardwired to expect a hostile environment and to use manipulation for survival. I’m so sorry your adopted daughter was abused, but I’m so proud of you for protecting your mental health, recognizing the signs, and giving her the help she needs. Wishing you and your daughter the best in life! <3

    • Thank you so much, Mary! <3 I feel your pain, honey. I've been exactly where you were more times than I care to admit. And you're spot on with the last point- they may shut up, but they always come back with more later!

    • Me too Mary Cates- BUT after reading Cherie’s article, I now understand perfectly why it is so important to remain calm and not defend myself and so I need to post this on my Amygdala- “Do not react to the false accusations and above all, remain calm- otherwise, they win!

  4. This is insightful, Cherie! Your “tell tale signs” should be shared with educators everywhere! It also should be part of HR training and professional unions, associations and federations world wide. The reason we still have bullying, I dare to offer, is that it is thriving in school despite anti-bullying campaigns for the last 30+years! In truth it feels like no one (higher ups especialy when more support is needed by teachers) really wants to stop a bully- probably because of fear of being persecuted by the bully! Thank you- truly you are giving so much to think about!

    • Thank you so much, Kim! And I agree, many members of authority are afraid of being persecuted by the bullies. And here’s another reason. A lot of school districts and workplaces are RUN by bullies. So, with schools, most anti-bullying policies are only lip-service.

      • Why yes they are! It has been the biggest disappointment I have encountered in my career. Crushing, but now I have a new added mission to my career aspirations as a teacher: empowering my colleagues to stand up to the bully and dethrone them so we can truly have caring, safe and welcoming schools and boards.

          • Great point, but I am thinking that I may figure out a way to create a mass distribution so that it is not aimed specifically at any one person, board or higher institution or authority- but my colleagues need to have this in their teacher tool kits and sadly, I am positive many do not.

  5. Spot on Cherie! Even if everyone knows the bullying has been going on for a long time, when the target finally ‘snaps.’ they all forget the above and make out that the target is unstable.

  6. Loved this Cherie:
    They want the target to snap. Bullies want the victim to blow up on them so they can then claim victimhood and make their victims look like the bully. 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

    Girl, I have had a couple of encounters where this occurred. Thank God I didn’t let my temper explode as it played out in my mind. 🤯 You see, in those situations, I let them go off because little did they know who was standing around them and in all of those instances, karma was truly a Bitch on steroids! Can you say “fire” boys and girls? And I don’t mean what Alicia Keys sang, but those girls were on fire, but not in a good way! Burn baby burn!!! 🔥🙀💥 You made some great points girlfriend!

    • Oooo, you said it girl! Let those bitches burn, baby, burn! I used to listen to a song by KISS called, “Burn Bitch Burn.” off their “Animalize” CD! Great song, and so on point with this post! Shoot, I should’ve posted a youtube video at the bottom! Dang it! (Snaps fingers). LOLOLOL

  7. Pingback: Bullies and Self-Victimization - Chateau Cherie

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