Unnecessary Fear: 4 Ways Bullies Use It to Control Their Targets

Fear is the strongest of all emotions. While fear is an excellent asset in a genuinely hazardous situation where there’s the threat of immediate harm, it can be the most dangerous and paralyzing emotion when it unnecessary.

Unnecessary fear is THE number one tool in the bully’s toolbox. Bullies use this fear as a means to manipulate their targets and to control many aspects of their lives.

Realize that the power of fear is the only power bullies hold, and they don’t use it sparingly. Bullies instinctively know that real or perceived fear will shut down a person’s rational and cognitive thinking abilities. As a result, they can manipulate the target into doing what they want by making empty promises of safety and security.

Fear strips away your power. It takes apart the ability to reason, to be proactive, and to make good choices- hence to defend and protect yourself. Bullies have long understood the power of deliberately inducing fear in their victims to control and dominate them.

 

Understand that a fearful person is easier for bullies to control than a fearless one.

Bullies maintain their oppressive grip on their victims by invoking fear in them, then claim that only they have the power to decide whether the targets can live in peace and be safe from harm. The bullies send the message that if the victim does what they want and says what they want to hear willingly and without getting mouthy and catching a funky attitude, they will leave him alone and permit him to live in peace.

But we all know how this usually ends. Bullies don’t keep promises. They only keep you hanging.

If you’re a target of bullying, I want you to understand that your bullies greatly benefit from your fear, and they won’t give those benefits up without a fight.

So, how do bullies exploit targets through inducing fear? There are many ways.

1.Rumor spreading and gossip – bullies have a knack for making even the most ridiculous lies sound like the truth and the most insidious abuse respectable, even admired. They slander the target to keep him silent and ensure that he doesn’t speak out about the abuse. If they can turn everyone against the victim, then who’s going to believe him when he finally does open up about the violence?

Bullies will also use fear to turn others against the target and recruit them to become willing participants. Even the kindest of people can become willing co-conspirators because humans behave much differently in groups, then they do on their own.

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

Voltaire

2. Repetition -bullies will bully, defame, insult, even physically attack the target repeatedly, over long periods to solidify the target’s fear, along with their low self-esteem and confidence to ensure that he doesn’t protect himself or rebel against the abuse.

3. Gaslighting – if the bullies can make the target question his own sanity and believe that he must have done or said something to deserve the cruel treatment, all the better! Then he’ll surely keep quite then.

4. To control everyone else– bullies also use fear to control peers and bystanders. They send the messages that if anyone else dares to help or befriend the victim, they’ll suffer the bullies’ wrath as well.

But there’s hope!

Unnecessary fear has a cure. And that cure is knowledge!

That’s right! You must acquire knowledge of bullies and bullying, and lots of it! It pays huge social and psychological dividends to know the psychology of bullying-

  1. why bullies bully (for social status, to keep from being bullied themselves, ect.)
  2. where their abuse comes from (insecurity, low self-esteem, arrogance, superiority, etc.)
  3. intentions and motivations for bullying
  4. tactics bullies use, the effects of bullying on victims.

And so much more.

In short, you must be knowledgeable of human nature, tactics of warfare, the ways people attain power, psychology, and dark psychology. I would also recommend reading about the Dark Triad- Narcissism, Psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. Then read about how to counter bullying.

Only then will you be able firmly and confidently stand up for and protect yourself- then ultimately free yourself from your bullies’ grip. Knowledge is the only thing that can defeat your fear. If nothing else, know this!

The Silent Treatment and How You Should Handle It

Nope refuse

It’s not what you say; it’s what you don’t say. When bullies wish to harm someone, the silent treatment can the most effective way of doing so. It is a cruel and sneaky way of control.

Remember that bullies are cowards, and they will find the most effective and least noticeable ways to dig at you
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Here are the reasons bullies use this tactic:

1. It’s least noticeable by others. It leaves no bruises, cuts or scratches, so there’s no physical evidence. This type of bullying is also hard to prove because it’s not easily seen. Therefore, it isn’t wise to report this type of bullying. Because people may see the target as overly sensitive, paranoid, or mentally unbalanced.

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2. It’s the most effective. Understand that the silent treatment is emotional manipulation. So, you must see it as just that. When you’re able to see it for what it is, the least likely you are to be affected by it. Bullies know that it’s the most covert way to assert control over their targets and make them doubt themselves.

3. For control, dominance, and intimidation– Again, bullies use this dirty trick to control how you feel and to dominate you. People also use the silent treatment to intimidate.

4. To manipulate you into doing what they want you to do– Everyone has a desire for approval. However, if being accepted means they force you to do something you don’t want to do, then you’re more than likely spinning your wheels for nothing. Anyone who doesn’t respect your boundaries and wishes will never accept you anyway because a person who truly approves of you would respect your rights and freedom to choose.

toxic

5. To make you feel guilty– Again. Because you didn’t do or give the bullies what they want, they intend to make you feel as if you did something wrong. You didn’t!

You must realize that if you let it get to you, it will only encourage the bullies to keep doing it anytime you don’t cave in and do their bidding or give them what they want.

So, how can you respond to this type of bullying?

Here’s how:

1. See the silent treatment for what it is: emotional manipulation When you finally recognize it as it is, the least you’ll be bothered by it.

2. Mirror the bullies by returning the silent treatment. When you give it right back to them, you’re not allowing them to control and intimidate you. You’re preserving some sense of power over your life by not allowing the bullies to phase you.

bye goodbye

3. Cut those childish buffoons out of your life. Do it either entirely or have as little to do with them as humanly possible. You don’t need to be around these confidence thieves. Realize that you don’t have to put up with that.

4. Stay calm. Don’t get emotional. Exhibit self-control and don’t get sucked into the bullies’ mind games.

5. Call them out. Tell them, “Look. What you’re doing is called the silent treatment, and that’s not okay. You can’t possibly keep up this childish behavior forever, and it’s not going to work.

6. Enjoy the peace and quiet. There’s a bright side to this. At least the bullies aren’t in your face for the time being. You get a reprieve from hearing them bitch and pitch their hissy fits! Woohoo! Who doesn’t love that!

Word of warning though. Make sure you don’t give your bullies clues that you’re enjoying the peace a little too much. Otherwise, they’ll be back on your tail before you can say, “oops.”

Do all the above, and the bullies might leave you alone and move on to an easier target.

You’ll feel much better about yourself knowing you stood up to them and asserted your rights not to be manipulated.

Bullies Want to Make You Believe You Need Them. You don’t!

bullied victim blamed

Bullies want you to believe that you’re nothing without their approval.

They want you to think that they control your very existence and that you can’t make friends, find a date, make the sports team, win a prize or have any successes without their say so.

Understand that this is how they brainwash you to wrest complete control and domination over your life. If they can make you believe that you’re nothing without their approval, then they succeed in taking away your power!

But know this! You do not need approval from anyone except the people who love you back. If the person doesn’t see your worth, their opinions of you shouldn’t matter.

You Don’t Need to Explain Yourself to a Bully

Why? Because bullies don’t care what your reasons are. The only reason they blame you for something and try to bait you into explaining yourself is the psychological payoff they get from it. The psychological payoffs, being satisfaction, gratification, and a massive rush of power.

While you’re standing there wasting your breath, trying to convince the bully that you aren’t guilty of whatever it is that they’re accusing you or attacking you for, the bullies are mentally smirking and patting themselves (and each other) on the backs over how easily they’ve got you to react, how easily they can scare you and make you nervous, and get you all up in arms. Some things don’t need an explanation.

Here are more reasons why you shouldn’t explain yourself to a bully:

1. No matter what you say, how calm you are when you say it, how convincing you may sound, or how much evidence you may have to support you, bullies will never believe you anyway.

2. Understand that bullies only believe whatever feels right, useful, and convenient for them.

3. They aren’t interested in evidence or facts. Any facts may only deter them for the time being, but believe me when I tell you. Your bullies will only get angrier at you for having the gall to prove them wrong. Then, they’ll regroup, reorganize, then come back at you with a whole new accusation and demand yet another explanation later.

Understand that anytime bullies accuse you of wrongdoing that you neither committed nor know anything about, deep inside, they already know you’re innocent.

They are fully aware that you had nothing to do with the transgression. Realize that it’s only a trap to get you to react and give them that rush of power that you’ve been giving them all along and that they crave and can’t seem to get enough of.

Even when you produce evidence to prove your point, you must work to gather that evidence.

Just knowing they have you jumping through hoops to prove yourself is enough to give them the thrills they’re looking for.

So, instead of letting them bait you into a defense, you should be asking yourself,

1. “Who are these morons?

2. “Who are they that I should have to explain anything?”

3. “Since when do I have to explain anything to these jackholes? They don’t pay my bills!”

Understand that you don’t owe these people a damn thing!

I understand that bullies can be intimidating and threatening. It’s hard to resist an explanation when you’re scared to death and not began rattling off an excuse in nervousness, hoping that a reasonable explanation will make the harassment go away. But trust me, it won’t!

It certainly didn’t make things better for me. If anything, it only got worse because my reaction only made me look like an easy target.

But once I realized what they were doing, I began to get bored with them and walk away because their games no longer affected me. The same will be for you too, and you’ll feel much better. And the icing on the cake will be that you’ll take the wind out of the bullies’ sails, and they’ll finally leave you alone.

With knowledge comes empowerment.

Bullies Actually Fear Losing Power and Control over Their Targets

I look back now and realize that my bullies were in constant fear of losing control and dominance over anyone they deemed inferior. I say this because I remember that anytime I or any other target at Oakley High, countered their insults, or had our own opinion about anything, the bullies and their followers would be quick to shout us down.

They would demand that we “shut up,” or “sit down and be quiet.” They would also threaten bodily harm or instigate violent arguments to intimidate and shut down anyone who dared to exercise their rights to speak freely, therefore, asserting their dominance.

Targets were highly discouraged from having their own thoughts, opinions, or views. I also remember during a class discussion, when a teacher asked me what my thoughts were on the subject we were discussing, I only had time to get the words, “I think…” out of my mouth when another girl shouted, “You think nothing! Shut up!”

Naturally, the teacher reamed her out for the outburst. However, the others only laughed at the teacher, the teacher went silent, then continued on with the discussion and allowed me to finish my answer.

There was nothing a target could speak about that one of the bullies wouldn’t shout down and attack them with. For example:

Target: “I don’t feel so good. I think I need to call home.”

Bullies and classmates: “You ‘ain’t’ sick! You’re just trying to get out of coming to school when your dumb ass needs to learn something useful!”

Target: “I’m afraid that…”

Bullies and classmates: “Shut up! You don’t have nothin’ to be afraid of! You’re just a big chicken!”

Target to target: “I need the hall pass to go use the restroom.”

Bullies and classmates: “You ‘ain’t’ goin’ nowhere! Shut up and sit down!”

Or…

If a target put up their hand and walked away from a confrontation, one of the bullies would either physically step in front of him/her and block them from leaving, grab the target by the back of his shirt and pull him back, or follow close behind them while shoving them forward while screaming, “Don’t turn your back and walk away from me, (expletive),” or “Turn around and look at me when I talk to you!” And If a target ignored a group of bullies, those bullies would then want to fight him.

It was as if the bullies had grown desperate and were panicking. And now that I know better, I realize that that’s exactly what they were doing- feeling desperate and panicking. And they were doing it out of fear.

So, anytime bullies yell and scream at you because you spoke or because you showed any form of opposition to their abuse, realize that it’s because they fear losing their dominance. Bullies instinctively know that if they lose control over a target, they lose face and look weak in front of the others around them. They also realize that if their target has the guts to challenge their power, then it just might encourage others to follow suit and bullies can’t have that.

Bullies must have their targets, not only to get sick pleasure and entertainment from, or to wield dominance over. They must also have them as examples to show everyone else that there will be brutal consequences if they show any form of dissent. Targets are used to keep everyone else in line too.

So, always remember this, and look for a way to use the bullies’ fear to your advantage. You have more power than you know.

Bullies Will Eat Their Own

I saw this happen and yes, while I was at Oakley High School, even in the workplace. When there are no targets available to degrade and dehumanize, bullies will begin to turn on one of their own in the clique.

Understand that even the inner circle of the clique has a pecking order. Every clique has a leader, second in command, third and so forth (depending on how many members in the group), all the way down to the bottom rat. And if their targets aren’t available, the members of the clique will turn on that bottom rat and she will be the target of the day.

And if it so happens that the bottom rat’s not available either, then the poor sucker on the second rung up is the one who will catch hell. And so on. Crap always rolls downhill and lands on whoever is unfortunate enough to be in the basement.

And what was really scandalous is that sometimes, the targets didn’t have to be unavailable. I stood back and watched a lot of back-biting between the members of the bully cliques, a few would go out with the other friends’ boyfriends or girlfriends behind their backs then smile in their faces at school the following Monday. But that was their business and any sane person would no part of such strange, twisted, and dysfunctional friendships.

With them it was back to back ego trips and while most targets, sheople, and wannabes at OHS considered a curse, a few others considered a blessing. I could deal with not being in the in-crowd, that was fine and dandy. What I had an issue with was that none of those creeps would leave me alone, go on about their business, and get a life.

Remember that bullies must always have a target- someone to look down on, someone to dump on, and someone to tell what to do and ride roughshod over. Therefore, if their usual targets aren’t available on any given day, the bullies at the top will turn on the lowest members of their own group and continue demeaning them until their regular targets return.

This is yet another reason why you should never accept being in one of the in-cliques. Must you be in one to feel validated? No. You’re just as awesome without them. You’re also freer! Because if you’re not in a clique, you don’t have to live up to anyone’s unwritten rules or standards. You’re free to be yourself and do your own thing. And there is nothing better!

Non-Verbal Tactics Bullies Use to Violate Their Targets

Most seasoned bullies seek to intimidate others by nonverbal means. Why? Because nonverbal bullying is subtle and least likely to be detected.

This type of bullying can occur either at school or in the workplace. Here are a few such subtleties.

1. They lean against the victim’s desk, office doorway, car, etc. Anytime we lean against something, we stake a claim to or show ownership of that object.

How you handle it is to tell the bully point blank and in a stern voice,
“Get off my desk (car, etc.)”

Macho man standing crossed arms near luxury open top car in tropical resort isometric image vector illustration

2. The bully will sit in the other person’s chair. Again, any chair you sit in, you non-verbally lay claim to.

Address it by telling the person in no uncertain terms to unseat your chair.

3. The bully may also pick the victim’s notebook, purse off the victim’s desk, touch their property, etc. Understand that anything of yours the bully touches, he is laying claim to.

The unspoken message that the bully is sending is, “I own your desk, car, notebook, and anything that’s yours.”

Don’t ignore it, and don’t be quiet about it. Open your mouth and tell the creep to keep his hands off your stuff.

When I was in school, I saw a bully walk up to a table of freshman boys during lunch and pluck a French fry from one of the ninth grade boy’s plates before popping it into his mouth without even asking.

It was clear that the bully was challenging the boy. The message was,

“I just took a piece of your lunch. Now, what are you going to do about it?”

Female bullies will often go through their target’s purses or jacket pockets or flip through their notebooks, yearbooks, or diaries. I’ve also heard of bullies walking into their victim’s homes without knocking.

I remember going on a school trip and finding out that my bullies had gone through my luggage and stolen fifty dollars, a dress, and jewelry from me while I was out of the room. Because there were so many bullies, it was difficult for me to confront the thief. Though I had a pretty good idea who stole my belongings, I couldn’t prove she took them!

Understand that bullies will claim ownership of your space and your property, which only means that they believe they own YOU!

4. Bullies will violate your personal space. Bullies are notorious for getting too close.

Understand that when the bully gets in your face or looms you from behind, he is either trying to intimidate you, dominate you, challenging you, or attempting to provoke a fight. Do what you have to do. Tell this idiot to back the hell up!

Understand that these types of bullies have unlimited audacity, and they do not respect boundaries! With people who are bold and audacious, you must take a stand!

Never ignore them or allow yourself to be intimidated because these kinds of folks will only increase the behavior if you do.

The more you know!

Jobs School Bullies Usually Take Once They’re Out of School

Bullies thrive on power, dominance, and fear. They love positions of power and will often opt for jobs that give them either authority over people or prestige.

Here are some of the jobs bullies select.

1.Politicians. Remember that well-seasoned bullies are the biggest and most convincing schmoozers, liars, and convincers on the face of the Earth. They have a way of steamrolling their ways to the top. And why not? They’ve been politicking since they were in diapers and often have connections in high places who give them boosts up the ladder. Should it be any wonder we have politicians who schmoozed constituents to get into office, then do nothing once they get there? This is not to say that all politicians are bullies, but all bullies seem to be politicians.

 2. Law Enforcement Officer. First, let me start by saying that most police officers are great people who have my utmost respect, especially in today’s climate. They do a difficult and thankless  job. They put their lives on the line every day to keep us all safe and to prevent criminals from harming law-abiding citizens and their families.

However, like any profession, law enforcement also has its bad apples. And when people who were bullies in school take these jobs, they often become those bad apples in their departments- the very people who put shame on the badge. These bullies will abuse their power at will.

And it isn’t fair to the good cops who sincerely want to make a positive difference and make our streets safer. The good cops are the ones who suffer when this happens.

3. Correctional Officer. Even correctional officers have authority over inmates- just not all inmates because there are some inmates who flat out run penitentiaries. It happens. Bullies pick this job because in prisons, they get free rain to do to “select” inmates, usually, the inmates at the bottom of the social order, whatever they want, and what are those inmates going to do about it? It’s their word against the bully CO’s and whose word do you think the warden will take?

Even worse, bully CO’s also abuse the good and decent CO’s who are competent and perform their jobs well. My last husband worked as a Corporal in a penal institution before he died. And he told me a few horror stories. I also, have friends who work in the TDOC system and they too tell me that it isn’t the inmates they must watch out for, it’s their coworkers.

 4. Supervisors and Managers. Again, bullies love positions of power and once they take those positions, they usually have carte blanche to abuse who they select to bully. I can’t count the stories I hear of workplace bullying and of bully bosses who get drunk on power and destroy others’ careers and lives.

It seems that bullies can’t live without having power over another.

With knowledge comes empowerment

The Body Language of Bullies: Dominance, Superiority, and Hostility

Bullies always display these types of body language, especially around their targets.

Dominance and Superiority Body LanguageBullies take up lots of space to appear bigger. You will often see bullies place their hands on their hips and stand extra tall.

They will often stand extra close to their targets– so close that they will sometimes touch them as they deliberately invade the target’s personal space. They do this to intimidate them.

Bullies will also frown and purse their lips at the target while maintaining unblinking and unwavering eye contact (boring their eyes into their target like a dagger) without moving their heads.

They will freely touch their targets because they have no regard for their personal space. For example, a bully may give the target a hard slap on the back or grab the target by the arm and lead them where they want them to go. A bully may also physically move the target to the side or shove past him/her.

Girl sitting on the ground and drawing personal space

Understand that the bully intends to show the target who’s in charge or to compete with him. The bully may also do these things to signal ownership of the target. Yes, in the bully’s mind, he owns you if you’re a target. The message is, “You’re mine, I own you, and I can do what I want with you.”

If the target is sitting, the bully or bullies will often stand over him to look bigger and more intimidating. Bullies who are short in stature will often stand on something to appear taller than their victims. Some may stand on their tiptoes.

Bullies will also lay claim to a territory (desks, spaces, parking spaces) and expect others to obey rules when near the claimed area or object.

Other ways of Invading the target’s space and claiming ownership – bullies may walk into the target’s room, office, or home uninvited and without knocking. They may sit in the victim’s chair without asking permission.

Other invasions include leaning on the target’s vehicle, parking in their parking spaces, cutting in front of them in line, or propping their feet on the back of the target’s chair when sitting behind them (I had a group of girls do that to me in school, and it was unnerving).

Understand that bullies crave control and do these things to take away the target’s power.

Bullies also put their hands on the target’s personal belongings with a carefree attitude. But know that the message the bully is sending the target is this. “I own you, so I own anything that is yours.”

Here is a classic often seen. Bullies may walk up to the target’s table during lunch, pick a French fry off their plate in front of them, and pop it in their mouths. They may pick up the target’s fork and take a bite of their food.

Bullies may also pick up the target’s phone and began scrolling through the contents. Bullies will even rummage through the target’s purse or pick up the target’s jacket and go through the pockets. The hidden message the bully is sending is, “I can take whatever I want, and what are you going to do about it?”

Another way bullies invade territory is to walk in the center of a hallway or sit on a flight of stairs, expecting people to move and go around them. Bullies may also stand in the middle of a road and driveway or take their time crossing the street, forcing cars to stop and wait. They may also stand in the middle of a crowd or center of a room.

Bullies also show dominance by how they dress or the car they drive.

Do Not Ignore This. Always make yourself powerful as well.

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If a bully violates your space or belongings, always call them out on it. Never let it happen without asserting yourself. If a bully stares you down, always return the stare. Either look them in the eye or look them between the eyes.

If they look at you while standing feet apart and arms akimbo, reflect the exact same stance back to the bully. Mirror the bully to show that you’re not the least bit intimidated by them. If the bully is rushing you, slow down. Do not speed up! Remain calm.

Dress your best and look your best. This shows that you take pride in how you look and conveys confidence. It also helps you to feel better. When we look better, we also feel better!

Hostility Body Language – Bullies may look at their target while pinching their chin. The pinching of the jaw is used to release the hostile thoughts without acting on them– it is a way to hold back the urge to physically attack the target.

Understand that when a bully looks at you and pinches any part of the face, this signals the bully’s secret wish to harm you.

Another sign of hostility as when a bully looks at their target, then pounds a fist into a tabletop, wall, or the palm of his/her opposite hand. Any object the bully pounds is only a substitute for the victim’s physical body.

Girls and women will often bite their lip, suck on the inside of their jaw or chew the inside of the mouth while looking at their target.

Bullies also show hostility by sizing up their target. They size you up by directly facing you, clinching their fists and puffing out their chests.

Male bullies will snarl at their victims, whereas female bullies will glare at their targets with dirty looks. Clenching a jaw where the jaw is protruding outward is another sign of hostile intentions.

Bullies often glare at their targets persistently and intensely without blinking. Their faces turn red, and they will often stretch. These are sure signs that a bully wants to physically attack you and they will do it soon. Again. Do not ignore this!

Bullies Want You to Believe that You Need Them. You Don’t!

bullied victim blamed

Bullies want you to believe that you’re nothing without their approval.

They want you to think that they control your very existence and that you can’t make friends, find a date, make the sports team, win a prize or have any successes without their say so.

Understand that this is how they brainwash you to wrest complete control and domination over your life. If they can make you believe that you’re nothing without their approval, then they succeed in taking away your power!

But know this! You do not need approval from anyone except the people who love you back. If the person doesn’t see your worth, their opinions of you shouldn’t matter.