Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power, which distinguishes bullying from conflict.
When you first hear such definitions, it doesn’t sound like it might apply to you. It didn’t to me. Until it did.
Bullying is more common than we think and happens more often than we realize. And, sadly, it spreads across generations because victims of bullying regularly become bullies themselves.
It is natural to think of extreme cases of physical and mental abuse when we think of bullying. In reality, however, bullying could be a silent part of a relationship with a manager or co-worker as well. Its habitual nature normalizes it.
The biggest sources of bullying are cultures where artificial hierarchies are imposed. In essence, that is every culture. Some cultures revere age, others revere masculinity and some others respect aggression, wealth and power.
The first and hardest step when you encounter bullying is to identify it. Once you do identify it, the next step is to walk away. Bullying arises from extreme insecurity and, as a result, it is very hard for a bully to change. Sometimes, extreme circumstances (e.g. being found out in public) can force change. But, not always.
A simple rule – if you find yourself in a relationship that has you feeling inadequate more often than not, walk away. Or, get help.