Many times, bullies will blow up on their targets for absolutely no reason. When they’re later questioned about the blow-up, they can’t remember why they lost their temper. So, they drum up fake memories to fill in the blanks in order to sound plausible instead of ridiculous.
When bullies confabulate, they do it to feel sane when they wouldn’t otherwise. And the way they feel sane is to insert made-up stories into the blanks. I’ve seen this happen many times and even had bullies justify themselves to me by the same method.
Sometimes, confabulations can be mistaken for real memories and the truth to the confabulator.
When bullies confabulate a justifiable reason for their appalling behavior, they believe themselves. So, is it any wonder that most abusers appear to others to be telling the truth when they justify and rationalize away their abusive actions?
When a person believes their own lies, others are more likely to believe them too. It’s a fact.
Confabulations have an incredible effect on witnesses. When people hear lies spoken as truths, it is as if you’ve entered the twilight zone.
No one wants to be under a bully’s influence, but people get sucked under it all the time. Many people have had their lives destroyed, even taken because they were persuaded by bullies. And those who saw through those abusers and spoke out were either silenced or paid a heavy price for daring to open their mouths. This has also happened to entire cultures and populations.
Understand that confabulations can be a powerful weapon because the bullies who confabulate believe themselves so it’s a sure bet that others will believe them too. That’s why we must learn to either properly counter any confabs or let the bully drag them out until others get tired of hearing them squawking about it.
I could go on and on! The excuses bullies make are endless. However, know that these so-called reasons have nothing to do with you if you’re a target of bullying. Understand that bullying is about power and the need to feel better than someone else. Your bullies are trying to meet their needs for validation or superiority in a hateful and hurtful manner.
When you’re being mistreated, it’s normal to want to figure out why. And the reason we want to know why it is so we can fix whatever’s wrong and make the bullying stop. But just because we correct whatever’s wrong doesn’t mean the bullying will go away, and most of the time, it doesn’t.
It only gets worse when you try to change yourself because people lose respect for you when you’re not yourself.
You may try to change yourself; you may hide, wear fancier clothes, even buy a new flashier car. But the truth is, there was never anything wrong with you in the first place. Understand that bullies target you not because there’s anything wrong with you or because you’ve done anything wrong. They’re only using you to meet their needs, and those needs are to feel better about themselves, feel powerful, superior, or better than you.
I even know adults- ADULTS, who should know better but are under the misguided impression that if people bully you, that you’re causing them to do so- that there’s something wrong with you, that there has to be something you’re not doing right, that you’re somehow annoying people and rubbing everyone the wrong way. No! This is a falsehood you should dismiss immediately!
Don’t accept it! Know in your heart that you did nothing wrong and that you’re great just the way you are! Here are things you can do to help your self-esteem and restore confidence.
Avoid these bullies like the plague.
Keep company with only those who uplift you and make you feel good about yourself.
Befriend other targets.
Do the things you enjoy and always show off your talents and gifts.
Do all of these, and your self-esteem will thank you for it!
As we all know, bullies are very practiced and convincing liars and have a flair for using charm to deceive bystanders and authority. Understand that this “charm” bullies often display is fake; it is all a part of the smokescreen they put up to cover up bad behavior and avoid accountability. In short, bullies are only actors and actresses.
Here’s a list of excuses that bystanders and authority often make for the bully anytime a victim reports them for their appalling behavior.
“That’s just his personality.”
“Boys will be boys,” or “Kids will be kids.”
“She’s only expressing herself.”
“Maybe you need to toughen up.”
“He just has a very strong personality.”
“Maybe you’re doing something to bring it on yourself, and you don’t realize it yet.”
“She’s going through a hard time right now.”
“You’re just too sensitive and need to grow a thicker skin.”
“But he’s really a good person. He’s just having issues right now.”
“She’s just having problems at home.”
“Maybe you’re too dramatic.”
“He’s just being himself.”
“Maybe she was just joking with you, and you took it the wrong way.”
Studio shot of playful disobedient adult son in a red t-shirt, covering ears with the index finger and saying la la la while wanting mom gets mad, standing indifferent to argue, being impolite and childish.
“But he’s so well-liked and well mannered. Why would he bully someone like you?”
“But she’s so sweet, and everyone loves her. She wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
And last but not least, my personal favorite-
“You’re just having a personality conflict.”
If you’ve ever been a target, I’m positive you’ve heard that last line. It seems to be the most popular excuse on the planet!
These are several examples of how others justify and condone the bully’s behavior. Don’t fall for it! Call them what they are- BULLIES! Never accept any excuse.
Retaliation may indeed follow. However, stay strong and know that you don’t have to tolerate atrocious behavior from anyone! If no one will listen, be sure to document document document every bullying incident in detail!!!!!!!
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!”
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!
It’s funny how protecting yourself from bullies can be twisted into over-sensitivity, paranoia, vindictiveness, or vengefulness. But that’s exactly what bullies, or, in this case, gaslighters are good for.
When bullying progresses to a point when you feel like you have to wear a body camera to work or school to get evidence of what bullies are putting you through, that’s when you know without a doubt, you’re being gaslighted. So, it’s most important that you trust those feelings.
And sometimes, things may get so out of control that you may need to wear a body camera to work or school. And when you do, make sure you catch it raw and unfiltered. Also, be sure no one, not even your best friend knows you’re wearing it. That way, you risk less of a chance of retaliation, or your evidence being tampered with or destroyed.
But realize that once the evidence is out, whether it comes out in court, and your bullies realize they’ve been busted, they will then continue to gaslight you, especially to others. They’ll accuse you of being sneaky, shady, scandalous, paranoid, or crazy.
But to catch gaslighting early on, before you ever have to wear a body camera, here are a few common things gaslighters tell their targets:
“You’re too sensitive.”
“You’re make something out of nothing.”
“I never said that.”
“I don’t remember saying that.”
“I’m not angry. If I was angry, you’d know it.”
“It’s all your fault.”
“You bring it all on yourself.”
“Well, if you hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t have done that.”
“You made me do it.”
“You’re mentally unstable.”
“Nobody’s ever going to love you.”
“You’re lucky I put up with you.”
“This is why nobody likes you.”
“You’re being petty.”
“You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.”
“You can’t take a joke!”
“It’s all in your mind.”
“It’s all a figment of your imagination.”
“If you love me, you’ll do this.”
And the list goes on and on.
Realize that no matter how you do it, you absolutely must protect yourself against these psychos, and doing so requires that you know gaslighting when you hear it or see it. It also requires that you maintain your sense of self and if you did not do anything to provoke these bullies, stand strong and never let them twist the facts and accuse you otherwise.
Bad behavior bullying children cartoon characters composition with a group of teenage girls laughing at their classmate vector illustration.
“Can’t you take a joke!”
Bullies are notorious for that line when targets speak out and call them out on their abuse. It’s the most manipulative and dangerous, and most popular excuse for crappy behavior because it uses social pressure to make the target out to be a party pooper who doesn’t know how to relax and have a good time.
Understand that bullies use this old, worn-out comeback to cover themselves and dupe bystanders and witnesses into believing that the abuse was just playful banter while making the victim look and feel like some dysfunctional whiner who’s just too sensitive and needs to lighten up.
But how do you know the difference between playful banter and bullying? Here are your answers:
1. There’s no power imbalance- With bullying, there’s always a power imbalance, and harm is intended. Also, the relationship is always harmful and abusive. Banter is done strictly among friends, family members- people with equal power. There’s no harm intended, and people who exchange banter have a positive and fulfilling relationship.
2. In banter, people respect you enough to stay away from your “no-go zones”- Your “no-go zones” are often called your hot buttons or triggers. These are things that you’re insecure about- something you’re embarrassed about, ashamed of, or can be any adverse experiences you’ve had in the past. In banter, people know to stay away from those areas and won’t bring them up.
On the other hand, bullies will deliberately zero in on things they know you’re insecure about and will only continue to bring them up in front of an audience when they see that you’re upset.
3. In a nutshell, it all comes down to how it makes you feel and your relationship with the other person! If the person is not a friend or family member– anyone you have a negative or hostile relationship with, they do NOT get the privilege to banter or joke with you! Ever!
Understand that banter is reserved for the people you feel good about (Close friends and family members)! Because they know your triggers and remember never to go near those tender areas!
4. Always read the person’s nonverbal body language- If the person is smirking and snickering instead of genuinely smiling and laughing out loud, that’s a sign of contempt, and it’s more than likely bullying instead of banter.
Sadly, anytime the bully plays the “Can’t-You-Take-A-Joke card, many targets are caught off guard and left speechless or paralyzed by humiliation. They’re left so upset they walk away feeling indignant because it’s sometimes difficult to adequately address the bully’s comeback without being made to look and feel even lower.
So, here is the perfect way to clap back at a bully who claims to be playing or joking and walk away feeling great about yourself and that you handled it like a boss!
Father told a funny story to his son.
You can shut him/her down by saying something to the tune of:
“Only my friends can joke with me like that! You’re not my friend, so you need to back off!”
“Newsflash! I don’t like you! You’re not my friend! So, you don’t get to say that, I don’t give a __ if you’re playing or not!”
And say it like you mean it! Then watch the bully pathetically slink away with their tail tucked between their legs! It has worked for me, and it’ll work for you too!
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 intact.
4. Isolating the Target (Divide and Conquer)
Bullies often force their targets into isolation through social aggression (spreading rumors and lies about the person or intimidating 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 person be able to make friends and enjoy positive relationships! And only with their (the bullies’) permission will the target 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 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 targets is like a drug to them. They can never get enough! Bullies always come back for more! In short, they become drunk on their own power.
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 and with the target ceasing to care 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.
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), including 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, workplace, or community, 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 target speak out and shed light on the behavior.
Once the target 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 the person.
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 target’s confidence and self-esteem.
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, deserving of 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!”
Displeased woman looking at her growing nose and trying to stop it with her finger isolated on white background
“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 and acquiesce.
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 person 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.
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.
Bullying, friendship and people concept. Girl patronizing screaming pointing finger at shy timid nerdy woman who is looking down
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 person 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.
It is just another term for gaslighting but is more in-depth. Bullies will discredit the victim by discrediting the claims.
DARVO is an acronym that stands for:
D – Deny – Anytime the target calls out their bullies’ abuse, the bullies will first deny the behavior. Bullies will counter with things like,
“That’s not what I said.”
“That never happened.”
“That’s not what I did.”
Or, they may not necessarily deny it, but may minimize their behavior by saying things like:
“It wasn’t that serious.”
“I didn’t hit you that hard. That was a love-pat compared to what I could’ve done to you.”
“If I was mad, you’d know it.”
A – Attack – Next, the bullies will attack you. They will discredit you by discrediting your claims. Bullies will use gaslighting to make you question or doubt yourself. And they will say to you, things like:
“You’re just looking for a fight.”
“You’re a drama queen.”
“You’re being paranoid.”
“You’re being difficult.”
“You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.”
“You just won’t leave well enough alone.”
R – Reverse
V – Victim
O – Offender – The bullies will blame you for their behavior. They’ll claim that you did something to them to make them act the way they acted. Your bullies will make statements such as:
“It’s your fault.”
“You asked for it.”
“You had it coming.”
“You made me hurt you.”
“You’re the bully, not me!”
Understand that bullies do this to escape accountability and, at the same time, cause the target to doubt and blame themselves. The stronger the bullies’ DARVO reaction, the more likely the target will blame themselves. And when it happens, the target will feel crazy, stupid, guilty, and responsible. This is why targets often take responsibility for the abuse they suffer.
DARVO is also used to silence targets and make them afraid to speak out. If victims are brainwashed into thinking they’re crazy, they’ll be afraid that everyone else will think the same thing.
I want you to know that you’re not responsible for the vile behavior of another person because you can’t control someone else’s behavior. You can only control yours.
Know that it isn’t your place to carry someone else’s emotional baggage! And how you unload it is to go grey-rock and cut the bullies out of your life if possible.
DARVO has been around since the beginning of time. Down through history, it’s been the most common manipulation tactic of psychological abusers. Only 24 years ago did someone put a name to it! DARVO came from the work of psychologist Jennifer Freyd, PhD, who first introduced the term in late 1997.