Emotional bullying is when someone tries to gain control by making others feel angry or afraid. It is characterized by verbal abuse such as name-calling, sarcasm, teasing, threatening, mocking, putting down, ignoring, and lying. Men and women may face exclusion from a group, tormented, picked on and, humiliation. There are often racially or sexually abusive overtones.
Emotional bullying will not leave a bruise or cause a bleeding nose but the emotional scars are just as real as physical wounds are often more difficult to heal.
It has been defined as social violence since it is just as damaging. In an article in the Toronto Star it is reported that over 50% of the adult population have experienced emotional bullying at work, at home, and in society.
While the most common advice is to ignore the bully or laugh it off, this is easier said than done when faced with repeated occurrences. Even with the understanding that the bully likely has emotional, psychological issues or social deficits, the pain of being the recipient of their pain and anger may not be easier to bear. So, what do you do?
It is important to shift your role from victim. Acknowledge that what is happening to you is bullying and that is it not your fault or that you deserve it. Recognize that it is the bully who has the problem, which is being projected onto you. Think about different responses and select the ones that will improve the situation. Depending on the severity, assess the situation and if you are at physical risk, contact the proper authorities.
Bullying certainly can cause feelings of isolation especially if it appears the bully is not acting alone. It may be there is a person with the bully who can be called a bystander. In many cases this person may identify with the bully and may even help. Sometimes the bystander identifies with victim and feels helpless not wanting to become a target themselves. They might try to avoid the situation or even try to minimize it.
Many studies have shown that if the issue is not addressed the bullying with increase, extend and have a high emotional toll. Within the workplace the results may also include high employee turnover, suspensions, high rate of grievances with disciplinary procedures, and stress-related illnesses.
If you have ever been a bullied as a child or an adult, it is important to note that even upon resolution, the feelings that result may linger.
Talking to a professional, even if it is years after the events can be enlightening and empowering and most of all, healing.