17 Characteristics of The Adult Survivor of School Bullying

Being a victim of school bullying often teaches us tough lessons- lessons that we carry into adulthood, shaping our personalities, and the ways we do things once we are out of school and away from our tormentors. Being an adult survivor myself, I can tell you what I took from it:

1. Having been bullied during school sharpened my emotional and social intelligence – Because we learned very early on how truly evil people can be, we know how to watch people without looking like we’re watching them, noting body language, facial expressions, micro-expressions, tonality, delivery, and demeanor. Because our people-sense wasn’t fully developed during our school years, we often let those in our lives who were only there to harm us. We paid dearly for it, which is the reason we’re extra watchful and therefore able to avoid such people, now that we’re adults.

2. We’re not afraid to say “no” and will sometimes say it simply because we can! As schoolkids, we had our boundaries violated so much so that we weren’t allowed to protest when something didn’t feel right to us.

People either duped or forced us to take a lot of abuse. Now that we’re adults, we get to decide what we will and will not tolerate and we exercise that freedom and autonomy every chance we get!

3. Survivors of school bullying are no-nonsense adults. We’ve learned early on the games people play, and we’re not easily duped. We live by the old, “fool me once…” saying and hold it close to our hearts.

positive bullied victim says NO

4. We have a very open and solid refusal to take any crap from anyone, no matter the consequences we may face for that refusal. I’m no exception. We took enough crap in school from our classmates and a few rotten apples, who called themselves school staff that we’re even more determined as adults not to let others violate our boundaries.

5. We don’t give people many chances. To us, first impressions are important, so you’d better make it count.

One red flag, I’m gone!
One bad vibe, goodbye!
Any attempts to bullshit, see ya!

This is due to having been too forgiving of others when we were young, being taken for granted, having our kindness taken for weakness, and then exploited, much to our humiliation. And we refuse ever again to be put back in that position.

6. We work our asses off! We’re tenacious when it comes to getting what we want and will stop at almost nothing to reach success – we had enough of what we didn’t want when we were in school. Others called us “a failure” so many times that it lit a fire under us and made us that much more determined to succeed at everything we set out to do, if for no other reason than to show the haters and naysayers (even our ex-school bullies) that we can! Show them up and shut them up is another motto.

7. We like having control over our own lives and will do anything to keep that control – survivors of school bullying had enough of others taking control of their lives long ago, and we will shut down the first person who tries to take away our power.

8. We can spot a bully five miles away in the dark – Yes! We’re that good! We dealt with bullies in school, for years, daily. We know the signs by heart. So naturally, we would be good, nearly expert, at pointing them out.

survivors x-ray eyes

9. As adults, we either avoid bullies like the plague, or, on the other end of the spectrum, we take extreme pleasure in putting bullies in their places, calling them out every chance we get, and making them feel like the losers they are – remembering all the times we didn’t or couldn’t defend ourselves against them in school.

10. We have a thick skin that has become difficult for others, other than those close to us, to penetrate. That’s our power. We like being unpredictable and keeping others on their toes to try and figure us out.

11. We can’t stand to watch others being made fun of and will rush to their defense. We’re not afraid to get nose to nose with the bully if need be- not only to help the person being bullied but subconsciously, to make up for all the times we felt helpless and didn’t or couldn’t defend ourselves against our bullies in school.

12. We can smell horseshit like a bloodhound. If someone tries to feed us a load of hogwash, we know it instantly and instinctively. We see it as an insult to our intelligence and we get highly PO’ed because we know the lying person must think we’re too stupid to figure them out. And we won’t hesitate to call the person out!

13. Adult survivors of school bullying are sensitive to the emotions of others and cannot stand the thought of causing emotional or physical harm to another person, but only if that person isn’t trying to harm them first.

14. Adult survivors of bullying place extra value on their families and friends. We’re careful that we don’t take them for granted- we know what it’s like to be completely alone and not to have any friends. Therefore, we cherish family/friends and time spent with them.

15. Adult survivors of school bullying are, in some ways, selfish. I know I am. We put a lot of value on ourselves, our wants, our needs, and our interests- all because others didn’t value us as kids during school.

So, we make it a point to put ourselves first in almost everything. Our children and parents may be the only people we put ahead of us.

16. Words don’t convince us. Only actions and patterns do. Due to our past histories of being duped by the empty promises and cheap words of school bullies and paying dearly for it. We’ll be damned if we ever repeat that mistake.

17. We live by our instincts- our gut feelings, sixth sense, whatever you choose to call it. Even better, we trust them because we paid a heavy price for ignoring them. we now have a sixth sense. Adult survivors of school bullying are excellent at picking up vibes (especially bad ones) and reading people and their intentions. If something or someone doesn’t feel right, we won’t hesitate to either walk away or tell the suspicious person to take a long walk off a short pier.

Being bullied as a kid in school has not only made me a powerful adult; it has also exponentially sharpened my people-senses, which in turn has afforded me not only scores of friends who love and respect me, successes, and even more opportunities, but ultimately, an enriching life!

With knowledge comes empowerment!