When Bullies Target Quiet People and Why They Do It

Many times, I’ve noticed that it’s the quiet person who often gets targeted by bullies. So, why do bullies go after those who have little to say? The silent types usually mind their own business. They have no need for attention, and they don’t bother anyone.

Quiet people don’t feel the need to be a part of a group to feel important. They work hard and stay out of the way. So, again. Why do bullies target them?
There are several reasons:

1. Bullies presume them to be weak and timid. Most people are under the misguided belief that anyone quiet is afraid of conflict. They think that the silent types are socially awkward misfits who others have shot down in the past and are now using avoidance to play it safe.

But in reality, they have better things to do and have no time for gossip and other meaningless chit-chats.

2. Bullies mistakenly believe they’re least likely to stand up for themselves. Unfortunately, bullies think that because someone isn’t loud and obnoxious like they are, they won’t defend themselves when provoked. This is a fallacy. I’ve seen many bullies push silents too far and end up with a face-full of humble pie.

3. They’re are mistaken for being standoffish. Bullies will presume that silents are stuck up and think they’re too good to speak. And bullies can’t stand it if there’s a possibility that someone is ignoring them. So they target the person to get a reaction out of them. Or, they punish them for “being so stuck up.”

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4. The silent are thought of as sneaky and having something to hide. So bullies will often target them to shake them up and make them slip up and accidentally reveal “whatever it is they’re hiding” out of nervousness.

Bullies often believe the stereotypes they’ve heard about people of few words:

“It’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for!”

“The quiet ones are the most dangerous!”

But wait! It goes much deeper.

5. Quiet people intimidate bullies. Only the bullies will never in this lifetime admit it. So, why would someone so silent be so intimidating to bullies?

a. They’re unpredictable. Remember that bullies rely on a target’s predictability to bully effectively. And if you can’t predict what a person’s next move is likely to be, that, in and of itself, can be very frightening. And if the person is the kind who’s stoic, all the more difficult it will be to “get their number.” The less you say, the harder others must work to figure you out.

Also, many bullies see the silence as a challenge and will rise to it by provoking the person to get a reaction.

b. Having little to say keeps people off balance. If bullies can’t figure out where you stand on anything, where your hot buttons are, or your desires, likes, and dislikes, they have less fodder and ammo to use against you.

And if they aren’t sure what gets you excited, ticks you off, or makes you nervous, they can’t control you so easily.

Also, because you don’t show your cards, bullies resent you for making them work so hard to pin them.

c. Quiet people expose bullies by staying- well, quiet! They’re very in tune with what goes on around them and listen very deeply while those around them rattle off at the mouth, exposing everything about themselves.

d. In their silence, quiet people terrify bullies. They keep them under their control. Subconsciously, bullies know this, and it drives them nuts!

e. People desire to know what others are thinking. Again. Quiet people make bullies uncomfortable and their silence makes it difficult to guess their intentions.

f. Quiet people put bullies on the defensive. Their answers are short and silences are long, which automatically puts bullies on the defense because the bullies assume the person is getting short with them.

If you’re a silent person and a target of bullies, don’t let them shake you. Continue to play your cards close to the vest. Your lack of predictability is what protects you. You must understand that silence has a power all it’s own. Use it.

Why The Quiet Ones Are Often Targets for Bullies

 

Quiet people are mysterious because they’re people of few words. Many of them are also stoic, which only makes it that much harder to peg them. Often bullies target these people for several reasons:

1. Quiet people are presumed to be easy targets. They think that if you aren’t loud and obnoxious, you must be weak, afraid, and least likely to fight back in an altercation.

 2. They’re are mistaken for being standoffish. Bullies will presume that quiet people are stuck up and think they’re too good to speak. And bullies can’t stand it if there’s a possibility that someone is ignoring them. So they target the person to get a reaction out of them. Or, they punish them for “being so stuck up.”

 3. They’re hard to figure out. People of few words strike fear into others. The less you say, the harder other people must work to figure you out. Remember that most bullies bully out of fear.

 4. A silent person is less predictable. And bullies hate it when targets are unpredictable. If they can’t predict the target’s next move, the least likely they are to be able to dupe them or set them up to get jumped or to be humiliated. Many bullies see this as a challenge and will rise to it by provoking the person to get a reaction.

Quiet people don’t show their cards, and bullies resent them for making them have to work so hard to pin them.

5. A quiet person puts bullies on the defensive. People often think that the silent are sneaky and have something to hide. So bullies will often target them to shake them up and make them slip up and accidentally reveal something out of nervousness.

Bullies often believe the stereotypes they’ve heard about people of few words:

“It’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for!”

“The quiet ones are the most dangerous!”

 If you’re a silent person and you’re a target of bullies. Don’t let them shake you. Continue to play your cards close to the vest. Your lack of predictability is what protects you. You must understand that silence has a power all it’s own. Use it.

Why Bullies Stick The “Crazy” Label on Their Targets

Do you ever wonder why most bullies attach labels, such as “crazy,” “unstable,” or “mentally disturbed” to targets who stand up against abuse?

Here are the reasons:

1. The crazy label is used by bullies as a last option when there is nothing else they can pin on their victims.

2. A mental imbalance is the most difficult to disprove. If you are a target of bullying, and you have the guts to stand up against the abuse, the bully may tell everyone that you’re nuts, and everyone else may believe it too. However, although there is no way the bully can prove that you are, in fact, crazy, there is also no way that you can show that you aren’t.

3. They’re trying to make you doubt your own sanity. Don’t you doubt it for a second!

This is why the “crazy” label is just too easy to stick on anyone because people have a strong tendency to see the worst in others, and the burden of proof lies with the target. It is damn hard to prove that you aren’t mentally unstable, especially when bullies attack you from every direction and wear you down.

The natural human response is to react and defend yourself when attacked, and it can very easily be mistaken for mental illness.

It happens when people walk in on you as you’re telling your bully where to stick it. Many times they only catch the tail end of the confrontation. Then they draw the wrong conclusions. Understand that this is what your bullies are counting on!!! Often, they set you up to look like you’ve completely “lost it” to any witnesses who happen to walk by.

Bullies do this all the time to discredit their targets and cover their behinds when they know they’re wrong! If the bully can make you look loony, then who’s going to believe you when you report the harassment? And who’ll take you seriously the next time you let the bully have it?

They’ll only sigh and think, “Uh-oh! There she goes again! She’s having another mental episode! That girl has gone completely batsh**!”

Don’t fall for it! Stand up to them! Look them in the eye, and you tell them,

“You’re wrong, and you know you’re wrong! I’m not going to debate this any further with you!”

Then walk away and leave the bully standing there slack-jawed. If the bully follows you and asks, “What’s your problem?” don’t explain it to them. They’re not five years old, they already know, and you don’t owe them any more than what’s necessary. Say as little as possible.

Tell them, “You know what my problem is!”

The bully may continue to follow you and ask, “What did I do to you?”

You say, “You know what you did! Now get bent!”

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Don’t beat around the bush. Get to the point and say it like you mean it. Be firm but don’t yell (yelling makes you look like a basket case). The bully may not change their ways and their attitude toward you. But I promise! You’ll feel so much better about yourself knowing that you put your foot down and looked less “unstable” to any bystanders!

Passive-Aggressive Bullies: The Vilest of Them All

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Being bullied by someone who’s passive-aggressive is the most demeaning and humiliating. I say this because when these types insult you, they’re slick about it.

They catch you off guard, taunting you in such a way that it can be tricky to figure out who it’s aimed at. Sometimes, you don’t even know it’s directed at you until it’s way too late for you to deliver a good comeback.

Because the bully may not necessarily address it to you, and while you may be unaware, any bystanders and witnesses nearby will immediately know who the covert nastiness was meant for. It’s funny how we tend to see so much clearer from the outside.

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What’s so terrible about passive-aggressive bullying is that the stealthy insults are usually hurled at you in front of an audience. And they can quickly fly over your head and make you look weak or like a clueless idiot for not catching it in time.

Even though the bully’s words are vague and unclear, they will still nibble at your self-esteem and take a chunk out of your confidence, whether you want them to or not, because you usually figure it out sooner or later. It only goes to prove how vicious these covert attacks can be.

But understand that although the bully and a few others might think he (the bully) is being witty or cute and that the creep slapped you with a good burn, there are reasons why these types are so slick with the mouth.

1. They’re great big cowards. Passive-aggressive bullies don’t have the guts to make a direct attack. The idea of a frontal assault scares these people to death. They hope the insults go over your head because they know that if they can confuse you and throw you off-balance, the least likely you are to jab back with a good counter-attack and make them look like a punk.

2. They think it makes them look cute. Passive-aggressiveness is also used to get attention and look intelligent in front of others. These bullies can only achieve this by humiliating someone else and making them look (and feel) stupid.

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3. To stun you and keep you silent. Often, the shock-value of the insults is such that it often leaves the recipient and bystanders speechless. Shock shuts down the ability to think clearly and causes the victim to pause for a second or two.

Many times, the target is left stunned, standing there with their mouths hung open and unable to respond quickly and appropriately, therefore making the poor person look slow and feeble-minded in the eyes of bystanders and making the bully look smart and witty.

It can also strike fear into the target and keep them from speaking out, afraid that the bully will only verbally beat them down with more wisecracks.

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4. Easy Deniability. If the insults are vague and indirect, there’s a higher chance the bully will escape accountability, should the target either catch it right off and either respond to it or report it. The bully can then more easily misconstrue the message and defensively claim, “Oh, that’s not what I meant,” “No harm intended,” “I wasn’t referring to you,” or “You took that the wrong way.”

Understand that although the garbage that comes out of their mouths may be vile and directed at you, it will often have several different interpretations. And because of those multiple meanings, the bully can very innocently explain away the put-down and make you look overly-sensitive, paranoid, or mentally unstable.

But here’s the good news! There are ways to read between the lines and stonewall these lowlife cowards anytime they get slick-mouthed with you.

1. Listen to your gut. If that nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach sounds off and you feel weird or that something is off, don’t ignore it. Your gut feeling is always right, so go with it!

Judgemental girls taunting fellow student

2. Quickly observe any surrounding bystanders. Make a split-second micro-glance of the witnesses and note their reactions and who they’re looking at. Notice their facial expressions and gestures. If you see any of these expressions below, and you’re likely to notice many of them together, you are the target of the insult.

a. If the witnesses’ eyes suddenly widen and they immediately look at you funny after the bully opens his mouth.

b. If they alternate uncomfortable glances from the bully to you then back to the bully

c. If you hear light gasps and grunts of shock from the “audience.”

d. If you see their whole faces change suddenly and mouths slightly gape open

e. If you hear soft but derisive giggles, chuckles, or laughter

f. If you see or hear snickering

Any number of these will give you a yes, and you can address the problem accordingly.

Why It’s So Important to Speak Your Truth

Many targets of bullying have had their voices stolen from them. They’re intimidated into keeping silent while others abuse and take advantage of them.

But you can’t bite your tongue forever because it will eventually come spewing out. You will snap and the stress will be as lava pouring out of an erupting volcano. This will become a vicious cycle.

Here’s how it progresses:

The target is calm, and people see this calmness as a weakness. Bullies began to notice how laid back the target is and presume that if they violate his boundaries, there will be no consequences. So, the abuse starts subtly at first- so subtly that the victim doesn’t even notice he’s being abused.

1.Bullies and bystanders: “We’re sorry we forgot to send you an invite to the party Saturday night.”


Target: “That’s okay. Maybe next time.”

Target is mildly stressed.

What the target thinks: “Really? You’re sorry? That’s the fourth time already.”

 

2. Bullies and bystanders: “You’re such a loser! When are you going to realize that and change your ways?”

Target: “I’m sorry. I don’t want any trouble with you guys.”

Target is angry but manages to hide it.

What the target thinks: “I’m not a loser! I wish you’d go somewhere else and leave me alone.”

3. Bullies and bystanders: “Can’t you do anything right? What the hell is wrong with you?”

Target: “What the hell did I do to you?”

Target is very angry but still manages to stuff it down and bury it.

Bullies and bystanders: ”Just forget it!”

Target: “Fine.”

What the target thinks: “No! You brought it up! Now let’s finish it!”

4. Bystander: “How are you?”

Target is angry and depressed.

Target: “I’m fine”

What the target thinks: I’m angry and depressed, thanks to you!”

 

5. Bullies and bystanders: “You’re so weak! We’re going to destroy you!”

Target is anxious, furious, and upset.

Target: “Why are you doing this to me? What have I ever done to any of you?”

What the target thinks: “I’ve had enough of your bullsh** and I’m about to go off on all of you! Now back the hell up!”

6. Bullies and bystanders: “Come here! We want to talk to you!”

Target is enraged. And can’t hold back any longer. This is the last straw.

Target: “(Yells) Go f*** yourselves! I have nothing to say to any of you! Now get the f*** out of here and don’t come back! I’m sick of you!”

What the target thinks: “Oh my God! This is so out of character for me! What’s happening to me!”

Bullies and bystanders: “Oh my God! Here we go again! He’s going crazy! He’s lost it! See! I told you he was a nutcase! See? He’s going off his rocker again! Hahahaha!”

And the bullying escalates because the target showed his ugly side and dared to respond to the bullies and their audience in kind. Now, people are using the target’s perfectly justified and normal human reaction to demonize him and make him look as if he’s mentally unstable.

This is why targets must speak out when the bullying first begins. I can’t stress this enough. Realize that these scenarios represent a pattern with bullies and their followers.

Bullies will push you and push you. They will keep digging at you until you snap on them. Then once you bite back, everyone is suddenly offended, and you are deemed the bad guy!

I want you to understand that this is all a part of the bully’s playbook. The more you know, the better you can predict their behavior, and the more you’ll be able to beat these monsters at their own game.

Why Bullies Target Quiet People

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Many times, I’ve noticed that it’s the quiet person who often gets targeted by bullies. So, why do bullies go after those who have little to say? The silent types usually mind their own business. They have no need for attention, and they don’t bother anyone.

Quiet people don’t feel the need to be a part of a group to feel important. They work hard and stay out of the way. So, again. Why do bullies target them?
There are several reasons:

1. Bullies presume them to be weak and timid. Most people are under the misguided belief that anyone quiet is afraid of conflict. They think that the silent types are socially awkward misfits who others have shot down in the past and are now using avoidance to play it safe.

But in reality, they have better things to do and have no time for gossip and other meaningless chit-chats.

2. Bullies mistakenly believe they’re least likely to stand up for themselves. Unfortunately, bullies think that because someone isn’t loud and obnoxious like they are, they won’t defend themselves when provoked. This is a fallacy. I’ve seen many bullies push silents too far and end up with a face-full of humble pie.

bullying cat mouse

3. They’re are mistaken for being standoffish. Bullies will presume that silents are stuck up and think they’re too good to speak. And bullies can’t stand it if there’s a possibility that someone is ignoring them. So they target the person to get a reaction out of them. Or, they punish them for “being so stuck up.”

4. The silent are thought of as sneaky and having something to hide. So bullies will often target them to shake them up and make them slip up and accidentally reveal “whatever it is they’re hiding” out of nervousness.

Bullies often believe the stereotypes they’ve heard about people of few words:

“It’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for!”

“The quiet ones are the most dangerous!”

But wait! It goes much deeper.

5. Quiet people intimidate bullies. Only the bullies will never in this lifetime admit it. So, why would someone so silent be so intimidating to bullies?

a. They’re unpredictable. Remember that bullies rely on a target’s predictability to bully effectively. And if you can’t predict what a person’s next move is likely to be, that, in and of itself, can be very frightening. And if the person is the kind who’s stoic, all the more difficult it will be to “get their number.” The less you say, the harder others must work to figure you out.

Also, many bullies see the silence as a challenge and will rise to it by provoking the person to get a reaction.

b. Having little to say keeps people off balance. If bullies can’t figure out where you stand on anything, where your hot buttons are, or your desires, likes, and dislikes, they have less fodder and ammo to use against you.

And if they aren’t sure what gets you excited, ticks you off, or makes you nervous, they can’t control you so easily.

Also, because you don’t show your cards, bullies resent you for making them work so hard to pin them.

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c. Quiet people expose bullies by staying- well, quiet! They’re very in tune with what goes on around them and listen very deeply while those around them rattle off at the mouth, exposing everything about themselves.

d. In their silence, quiet people terrify bullies. They keep them under their control. Subconsciously, bullies know this, and it drives them nuts!

e. People desire to know what others are thinking. Again. Quiet people make bullies uncomfortable and their silence makes it difficult to guess their intentions.

f. Quiet people put bullies on the defensive. Their answers are short and silences are long, which automatically puts bullies on the defense because the bullies assume the person is getting short with them.

If you’re a silent person and a target of bullies, don’t let them shake you. Continue to play your cards close to the vest. Your lack of predictability is what protects you. You must understand that silence has a power all it’s own. Use it.

When the Bullied React

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After people have targeted a person, they react sooner or later. Some targets react negatively by turning the rage inward and lashing out at others. I did that once upon a time, and I hate to have to admit that.

There are, however, exceptions! Several react positively- they may become advocates against bullying and for people who are targets of such mistreatment, which is a great thing. Others focus more on their life goals. Because they had positive influences in their lives, or they chose to be their own positive influence, which buffered their self-esteem from the blows in so many ways from the psycho/emotional effects of bullying.

Still, so many others often retreat within themselves, and it happens when others force them to feel as if their feelings don’t matter. These people often realize that no one will believe them if they talk about it. These are ones who suffer in silence while trying to process what’s happening to them and why.

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They stuff it down because they don’t want to feel the pain and negative emotions that come with being a target of bullying.

They feel that if they cry about it, they’re losing control.

They also feel that if they’re quiet about it, the bullying will magically go away.

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But these three things couldn’t be further from the truth! When we feel the pain and cry, we’re releasing all those pinned up, toxic emotions, and we feel so much better afterward. And being quiet about anything won’t make it go away, but is only why toxic emotions build up in the first place.

And you can’t continue to carry all that baggage forever. Sooner or later, you’ll need to unpack all that crap and put it away!

For me, it took a lot of therapy, journaling, and working on myself to survive it, but I’m so glad I put in the work. It takes much grit and determination to withstand any form of abuse.

Still, anytime I see a kid who’s shy and withdrawn, the first question that pops into my mind is, “Is this person a target of bullying?” And I say a little prayer for them!

Common Responses Targets Get When They Speak Out

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If you’re a target of bullying, people will naturally expect you not to open your mouth about the harassment. Not only your bullies themselves but often bystanders and authority will automatically side with the bullies.

But, it still doesn’t mean that you stay silent because standing up for yourself shows bravery and strength and you’re well within your rights to do so.

However, I want you to be prepared for the following hurtful responses you’re likely to get when you finally do begin speaking against the mistreatment.

Here they are:

1. “You’re being too sensitive.” Understand that when people respond this way, they’re only shifting the blame to you and trying to shame you into keeping quiet about it. People who tell you this might be friends or followers of the bullies or have a personal interest in keeping you quiet, such as the reputation of the school or company, the bullies may be kin to them somehow, or the bullies may be perceived as “good for the school’s or company’s reputation.” But don’t be ashamed to speak out. You must keep the pressure on even if the bullying gets worse. Understand that things usually get worse before they get better. But they will get better.

2. “Just Ignore Them.” This never works, as bullies only become angry at being ignored and escalate the bullying. Or, they may mistake ignoring for fear. And if a bully gets in your face, how do you ignore that? It’s impossible. The best way to handle it is to put your hand up and walk around the bully. But how do you know the bully won’t come after you and attack you from behind once you’ve walked past them?

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Understand that when people tell you to ignore the bully, what this means is that they either don’t want to hear about it, don’t want to have to deal with it, or don’t have any answers themselves.

3. “Toughen up.” Again. The people who could help you don’t want to get involved. So they put it all on you. By telling you to toughen up, they’re shifting the blame onto you and trying to shame you into staying silent. Also, when you tell a target to toughen up, you’re only asking for things between the target and bully to escalate because the target will take it as a green light to tell the bully to shove it up his you-know-where or haul off and knock the idiot’s block off. Not that it’s a bad thing because, in my opinion, bullies deserve a good whack in the nose.

But those in authority have no right to tell the target to toughen up, then turn around and punish him when he finally does.

Respond to this by saying, “No. It’s not about toughing up. It’s about asserting my right to be treated with decency and I don’t have to take that mess.” And when you say it, say it with conviction.

4. “Get over it.”

5. “Don’t be a crybaby.”

6. “Stop whining.”

7. “Don’t be a tattletale.”

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All of the above nuggets of advice are only meant to shame and silence you. Bullying is no different from any other form of abuse. It thrives on secrecy. If you don’t speak out about it, the bullying and abuse will only continue, even escalate.

I realize that getting these kinds of responses makes you feel even worse and there’s a temptation to clam up and burrow back into your hole. But don’t! You must refuse to keep quiet about it!

Keep speaking out about it. When people give you any of the above responses, that’s when you should only double down, dig your heels in and speak louder! Because only when a problem is addressed does it have the potential to be solved.

It may get worse before it gets better, but there’s always a chance that it will get better when you verbally protest the bullying. And no matter the outcome, you’ll feel so much better about yourself knowing you took a stand.