I once read in Robert Greene’s book entitled, “The Laws of Human Nature,” that everyone needs a hated enemy and that there’s a positive side to having one. I’ve found that with packs of bullies, this is true.
Bullies in groups need an enemy, whether real or imagined, that they can band together and fight against- an “us-versus-him/her” object. Why? Because the presence of an enemy has always served to strengthen group cohesion and to unite and tighten members to one another. Groups reflexively focus on their hated target as a means of bringing it together as one and for further solidarity.
And if they can get any member of authority and with a little power (teacher, principal, supervisor, manager or HR) to join in the hatred, all the better to ensure that the group align themselves to one another and oust the “enemy”.
Not even love, respect, or friendship unite people as much as the shared hatred of something or someone. Remember that there’s strength in numbers, and bullies must always have an entourage around them. You will never see a bully alone because the thought of being on their own scares them to death. And the stronger the solidarity, the less likely it is of the group disbanding.
The victim provides the bullies that assurance that their group always stays together as one. Without the victim, the group is weak; things get boring real fast, and it won’t be long before they split up and go their separate ways.
Bullies also need victims for entertainment and as victory trophies to collect and display. They need victims as guinea pigs to test their (perceived) strength and power on, then show as proof thereof to bystanders and witnesses.
Therefore, the target serves many purposes. And once they’ve served their purpose, they’re neatly and quietly disposed of and a new victim is selected.
Always remember this. The more we know about the inner workings of bullies, the better we can defend ourselves against them.
Bullying, especially of the psychological and emotional variety, is difficult to prove to people in authority who are in a position to help the target. There are several reasons for this:
1. Bullies are Master Seducers (Charmers).
Bullies are charming to the right people. When the victim finally gets sick of the harassment and reports the bullying, and when the bully is questioned by authority, the bully will often charm those in power. Other weapons used to charm and influence teachers, principals, and supervisors are high marks, excellent grades, and class/work performance.
Bullies can also use good looks, impeccable dressing, and grooming to seduce others. Called the halo effect, this is a phenomenon where those who look the best are the most trusted and respected by others.
Arrogant young Caucasian man with three female admirers
2. Bullies are Convincing Liars and Actors.
They have a flair for spreading the most convincing rumors and lies. Bullies do this to convince others not to associate with the victim. Therefore, the target loses support and has no one to turn to for help.
Because the victim often reacts out of emotion and the bully puts on a calm and collected demeanor, people in authority will almost always side with the bully because of this false coolness the bully displays.
The bully points out the target’s perfectly normal emotional reaction and twists everything to convince everyone of the target’s guilt and that the victim is unstable, crazy, overly dramatic, or too sensitive. The bully will also feign victimhood by bursting into tears, which is all designed to shift the blame onto the victim and persuade anyone in authority to take his/her (the bully’s) side.
The most seasoned bullies are also master wordsmiths who can explain away and rationalize any bad behavior. They can spin a story that is so convincing that teachers and supervisors will find it hard not to believe it. In the end, the target gets the blame, and either those in authority refuse to discipline the bully or they punish the victim instead.
3. Documenting (or Journaling) offers the disgraced target a voice, enabling them to have a say when no one else is listening.
As stated, the target often gets the blame when he/she reports harassment to the people who can help them. By documenting the abuse, the victim can tell their side without being ignored or having their experiences trivialized by the bully or anyone else.
The devil hiding in the businessman – alter ego concept
4. Documenting offers Victims a Legal Record of the Bullying.
In case the bully hurts the target badly enough to require medical attention or worse, a plaintiff can use the journal as proof in court, should the victim or the family pursue legal action. Documentation is admissible in court.
5. Documenting is very cathartic and therapeutic.
It allows the victim to express the emotions they could never show any other way. Journals cannot trivialize the target’s experiences, nor can they invalidate the victim in any way. Journals are also confidential. They cannot go to the bullies nor anyone else and repeat what the victim tells them.
These are the reasons you absolutely must document every day about what you are put through. When you document, be sure to include who the bullies are (full names and if necessary, titles and positions), where each incident happened (school locker room, gym, bathroom at work, etc.), the names of any bystanders and teachers/supervisors present, the exact time and date the incident happened, what happened, what was said and by whom. Also, if possible, write down why it happened (was the bully retaliating because you reported prior harassment?). Write down every detail!
gavel and soundblock of justice law and lawyer working on wooden desk background
If you have tried telling a staff member or your parents about how classmates or coworkers bully you, only to be silenced or blamed- if no one will listen or offer support, you owe it to yourself to always document the harassment in your daily journal.
You want to document every day to establish a pattern of bullying and abuse. It was how I survived those six long years of being bullied in school. It was the only outlet I had. I can attest to you that if I hadn’t documented everything in my journal every single day, I might not be alive today. When I began keeping a written record during the eighth grade, it was freeing, and I felt as if I were finally having my say.
Bullies who are seasoned and the best in the bullying business didn’t get so good at bullying you and getting away with it overnight.
No, they learned through trial and error. They’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t. And every time they screwed up and got caught, they never learned their lesson that it’s wrong to mistreat people. They only got sneakier and learned what not to do with their next victim.
Therefore, with each new victim, they got a little sneakier, and a little better at covering their behinds until they finally became undetectable to anyone outside the bully/target dynamic. They finally became experts!
Understand that these bullies have left a long trail of ruined lives and either broken or angry people in their wake. Only they’d never tell you about that.
With that said, know that there were many before you and there will be many more after you. You aren’t alone and you’re not the only one they’ve bullied.
I’ve said it once and it bears repeating: If possible, you must find out who their past victims are, then befriend and align yourself with them. I guarantee that you will find out so many juicy tidbits about your bullies and what you discover about them can be used as a powerful weapon!
You already know the first three ways bullies use gaslighting. Here are more of their evil tactics and what you can do to keep your self-esteem in tact.
4. Isolating the Target (Divide and Conquer)
Bullies often force their targets into isolation by way of social aggression (spreading rumors and lies about the victim or intimidation of his/her associates).
In doing this, bullies strategically turn the target’s friends and associates against them to cut him/her off from any support or protection they might otherwise receive. Once the subject is isolated, the bullies then move in for the kill and take the bullying to new heights.
If the target expresses the desire to change schools or workplaces, the bullies may try to discourage him/her by convincing them that they won’t be treated any better in the new environment, or attempting to block the targets’ transfer and cut off any means of escape.
5. Bullies Make Themselves Out to be Superior and Cunningly Convince the Target that he/she needs them to get along.
Bullies slyly force their target to believe he/she somehow needs their approval. If the bullies can make the target dependent on them, their power and control only increase.
Bullies do this by convincing to target that they (the bullies) are the only ones who can better his/her (the target’s) situation- that only through them (the bullies) will the victim be able to make friends and enjoy positive relationships! And only with their (the bullies’) permission will the target even find happiness and fulfillment.
Also, bullies make the target believe that they must submit to their every whim and wish, no matter how demeaning, before they grant him/her relief from the attacks. But understand that bullies will never leave you alone! It’s is only another tactic to assert domination!
6. Empty Promises
“If you do this, I’ll go away quietly and leave you alone.” “If you do that, I’ll be your friend.” “If you’d only do XYZ, I’ll make things easier for you.”
Don’t buy any of it! You can never appease a bully. They will never go away or stop the harassment. They only make empty promises to keep you under their control. Understand that bullies have an insatiable appetite for power, control, and destruction.
They are like bottomless pits and no matter what you do to try and please them, they’ll only continue or increase the torment. You must realize that no amount of bullying is ever enough for a bully. Bullies are power and drama addicts and harassment of their victims is like a drug to them. They can never get enough! Bullies always come back for more!
The only way to stop a bully is to either use reverse psychology, put the fear of God into him/her by calling them out publicly, or go no contact if you can. If you can’t then use the first two suggestions. It may or may not work, but keep it up. Because if you just clam up and say nothing, you’ll feel terrible about yourself later.
There are two things bullies fear most. Losing face and losing power, which would only come from having their evil exposed and when you stop caring what they say and think altogether. NOTE: When you stop caring (which can only happen after you see the bullies for the pathetic souls they really are), it’ll be so much easier to come back with a witty, one-line counter-dig and keep walking.
Bullying, friendship and people concept. Girl patronizing screaming pointing finger at shy timid nerdy woman who is looking down
Another important note: DOCUMENT EVERYTHING! Write it all down in detail to keep records of this kind of stuff! You may need it!!!!!!
Jot down what happened (in detail), include date and time it happened, where it happened, who the bullies are, names of any bystanders, teachers, supervisors, etc, and if possible, why it happened (was it retaliation?)! EVERYTHING!
Find ways to expose bullies and reclaim your power.
Gaslight- to manipulate someone by psychological means into doubting their sanity.
Remember that bullying is all about domination and control. Once the bully selects a target and begins their reign of terror over the chosen victim, they will do everything possible to maintain that dominance. Also, understand that bullies get a huge psychological payoff at the victim’s expense. Abusing their targets gives bullies a rush of power and a sense of authority and control.
If there is a culture of bullying at a school or workplace, bullies are also rewarded with attention, high social status and promotions from others while the target suffers the opposite. And a bully will fight like crazy to keep those benefits should the victim speak out and shed light on the behavior.
Once the victim sees the behavior for what it is and begins to assert their right to be treated fairly, bullies will become angry and afraid. They will see the target as a threat to their power and increase the harassment to subdue, silence and punish their victim.
Seasoned bullies maintain power by emotionally abusing, brainwashing, and psychological abuse to disempower the target and make themselves seem bigger and better than what they are. They use these methods because psycho/emotional bullying leaves no physical evidence and is much easier to deny.
They do this by convincing their target (and everyone else) that he/she is defective or no good, thereby stripping the victim’s confidence and self-esteem.
women with elongated nose – the concept of lying
Here are ways bullies gaslight their targets:
1. Persistent lying
Bullies tell vague lies and trying to convince you that you are mentally unstable, less than, deserve the mistreatment, or that you’re somehow defective. Bullies will make statements to others such as,
“He’s a waste of space, and he needs to realize it already!”
“She’s such an embarrassment! How does she even show her face in public every day?”
“Who gives a #$% about his feelings! He doesn’t matter!”
“She brought it all on herself!”
Bullies will also tell their targets things like:
“What are you smiling about? Nobody likes you! Remember?”
“I’m not bullying you! You’re just over-reacting!”
“You’re just being (paranoid, overly sensitive, a crybaby, etc.)! You need help!”
“Nobody’s mistreating you! You’re just playing the victim to look innocent to everyone else!
“You’re so (arrogant, retarded, crazy, ugly, fat, skinny, etc.) nobody believes a word you say!”
I could go on and on.
Bullies deliberately repeat these lies over and over again and for a long time to convince the target that they are right. Understand that this constant repetition has a purpose! To instill insecurity in the victim, wear them down and force him/her to resign themselves.
It serves to brainwash the target and force him/her to believe the bully’s lies. As a result, the target becomes riddled with confusion, social anxiety and shame. Eventually, the victim loses the ability to counter the attacks
You must realize that this is the bully’s strategy to render control and keep the target under their control and from rebelling against the abuse.
Bullying, friendship and people concept. Girl patronizing screaming pointing finger at shy timid nerdy woman who is looking down
2. Wearing the Target Down and forcing him/her to agree with them.
Bullies continue to put the target down and marginalize them until he/she is so tired or afraid of defending against them that the person shuts down, grows numb to the abuse and surrenders to the bullies.
3. Become Highly Aggressive When the Target Calls Out the Abuse
Bullies may try to maintain their power by intensifying and escalating the attacks in addition to blaming and shaming the target. Understand that this is designed to subdue and further subjugate the victim by intimidation and to force him/her into silence and submission. It also allows the bully to escape accountability and to have a green light for continued and future attacks.
At different times in my life, I have either met or been around certain people whom my inner alarm tried to warn me about. I cannot explain the feeling I got. The only way I can describe this gut feeling is to say that something seemed to be “off” about these people and I would get a sinking, creepy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I could literally feel the bad vibes that seemed to pour forth from these people.
When I was young, I would often mistake this feeling for “just being paranoid” and ignore the feeling, which is something that a whopping majority of victims do. And it proved to be to my disappointment…every time! I have since learned that had I listened to my gut and avoided these people, I could have saved myself a truckload of heartache.
God gave us all that “sixth sense” or as it is more commonly called, the “gut feeling” or “instinct”, for a reason. Anytime you get a bad feeling in your gut about someone, you are not being paranoid, you are not over-reacting. It is only your inner alarm trying to warn you about a person or situation and keep you safe.
Here are a couple of excerpts from my book, “From Victim to Victor” that explains this even further:
“…My gut feeling warned me many times about my classmate’s personalities or that someone was about to harm me in some way, shape or form. I did not listen to my innate alarm because the faith in my own intuitive abilities had been shattered. As a result, I often mistook it for being overly suspicious.
Another example of poor decision making was that I became a very MEAN and VICIOUS person. As a result, I often repelled the people who had my best interests at heart, who were genuine and would have otherwise been true friends. I missed out on a lot of opportunities for friendship because I had very quickly come to a place where I did not trust anyone.
It was much safer to put up a barrier and keep everyone, including my own family out than it was to take risks and learn how to trust the right people.
Being bullied and being stuck with unnecessary labels can very easily do this to a person. It cannot only cause you not to believe in yourself and your own abilities, but it can also enable you to trust your own innate intuition if you let it. It blinds you to people who are true as it completely zaps your senses of who is for real and who is fake, thus causing the loss of your ability to avoid dangerous people.”
“…You are not stupid. It is not only in your imagination. You are not being overly sensitive. You are not being a wimp, wuss, crybaby, crazy or whatever else unsavory people call you. You always know when something does not feel good. You can see it in the way certain people cut their eyes at you and talk through their teeth. You can hear the short and cold tone in their voices. You can feel, deep down in your gut, the nasty vibes they exude. This is why you should always listen to your gut feeling because it is never wrong. Eighty-six those people pronto!”
Please don’t ignore this instinct. Never overlook that sinking feeling in your stomach because it could save you from so much trouble. It could even save your life!
Knowledge is power! It’s also another way to take the sting out of bullying. We must first know the bullies’ inner workings- how they think, what they deem essential, their desires, and what it is that motivates them to bully.
We must also know the types of bullies we are dealing with, the tactics they love to use against us, and why. Because when we understand what motivates bullies to bully, not only are we better able to build a strategy to defuse the situation, but this knowledge can be a buffer to the effects of bullying on our self-esteem and our psyches.
For example: If a classmate or coworker is bullying me, and I know that her best friend has recently kicked her to the curb, or that she is going through a horrible break-up or divorce, that maybe she is being abused at home, or someone else is bullying her, I can at least know that there’s a strong possibility that she is trying to bring me down solely to keep from feeling so powerless herself, rather than to be fooled into thinking that her behavior is because there is something wrong with me.
I then know without a doubt that her mistreatment of me comes from a place of her insecurity and that her belittling me is only a desperate attempt to feel some sense of power. Therefore, I know that I’m still a great person and my self-esteem remains unscathed. Also, it would help to quell any anger, hatred or resentment I might otherwise feel towards her.
Instead, I will more than likely feel pity for her or even feel vindicated in some way. Any future bullying she might subject me to won’t bother me as much, which will make it much easier for me to blow her off as being just another blowhard and not as perfect or strong as she has vigorously tried to make herself out to be.
Combined, this can be a real self-esteem booster!
Another example would be if my bully were a narcissistic psycho/sociopath, I’d know that her ego is puffed up or she’s a spoiled, coddled brat, or maybe mistreated in the past that she thinks she’s owed special treatment. Either way, I’d know that it would probably be best to avoid her like the plague and go completely no-contact.
Here’s the third example: If I have a group of people who are bullying me because they are jealous of me and wish they had something I possess- talents, gifts, relationships, material things, etc, I know that I should feel great about myself as if only goes to show that these bullies actually admire me (in their way) or the things about me they covet so much.
This article may sound strange, even delusional, but think about it. Why else would these people seemingly go out of their way to belittle and crush my confidence?
It helps to know what the bullies may be going through in their own lives and to have a little intel about their lives away from school and work. There’s nothing wrong with aligning yourself with other people your bully has bullied before you and with your bully’s enemies.
There’s nothing wrong with getting some counterintelligence from reliable sources if it will protect your self-esteem from being crushed under the proverbial boot heel of a bully! So, do a little spying, nonchalantly get their enemies and other victims to talk!
Doing this will be a piece of cake to do as they will almost certainly be too happy to give up the deets! Then, you will be armed to the teeth will info that will take the wind out of the bullies’ sales and the blunt force out of their attacks.
The more you know, the better you protect yourself!