Adult bullying: How to tackle it head-on

What can I do and where can I find help?

Whether you are looking for help and support for yourself, a colleague, or a loved one, there are many options available. Bullying is never acceptable. Making sure that the person affected knows this, and knows that there is support out there is key.

Speak out 

If you are worried about someone and have noticed their behaviour changing, try speaking to them. If possible, try to broach the subject when you are both calm, in a relaxed and comfortable environment.

Squeezing in a conversation between meetings or appointments may lead to the other person clamming up or feeling unable to talk. Preparing what you are going to say, when and where you are going to say it can all be equally as important. If they aren’t ready to talk, try not to push things whilst making sure they know you are there to listen whenever they are ready.

If you are being bullied and want to talk to someone, speak to someone you feel comfortable with. You have nothing to be ashamed of. If you are experiencing workplace bullying, speaking up may uncover a larger problem than you had realised. You may not be the only target and your company may be unaware of team or inter-team dynamics.

Keep a record

Keep a note of each instance of bullying. If things happen over email, save a copy of each message. For social media, apps, or chat tools like Slack or Telegram, take screenshots and keep them in a safe place. If the bullying is happening in person, try to note down times, dates, and a rough idea of the conversations or actions that took place, as well as who was there. Keeping track and having a trail of proof can be helpful if you need to take things further at a later date.

Talk it out

If you feel able to, talking to the bully directly may be beneficial. They may be unaware of how you are feeling or may think their behaviour is “just banter” rather than something more serious. Some bullies may back down when confronted but, if their behaviour continues, making a formal complaint at work, university, or to the care home (depending on your situation) may be the next step. Reporting messages online or following your company’s grievance procedure may also be a good course of action.

If you are experiencing elder bullying, or believe a vulnerable, older loved one may be being bullied, addressing the issue(s) as soon as they arise is crucial. If you are concerned about the welfare of someone living in a care home, try speaking to the individual to reassure them that help and support are available. Speak to someone at the care home about your concerns.

If you feel as though you have no-one you can talk to or who can help, the Action on Elder Abuse helpline offers confidential advice and guidance on 0808 808 8141 between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

See a professional

Whether you are currently being bullied, were bullied in the past, or have been affected in another way, speaking to a qualified, professional counsellor can be hugely beneficial.

Counselling can provide a safe place to speak with an impartial third party, without judgement about your feelings, experiences and options. A counsellor who specialises in bullying may be able to help you understand what is happening or has happened, exploring different techniques you can use to cope or process past experiences.

Cut the cyberbullies off 

Explore tips on staying safe online to avoid the attention of trolls and to make it harder for cyberbullies to find you via social media, websites, chatrooms and apps. Making the most of privacy settings, avoiding sharing passwords, and setting your profile to private can help.

Avoid responding to instances of cyberbullying whilst keeping records of what has happened. Always report messages via the platform they are received on where possible and don’t be afraid to discuss things with friends and family. Online bullying can be just as damaging and hurtful as in-person experiences.

Check systems in place

If you are experiencing workplace bullying, or are worried about someone else in your team, check that a system is in place to make reporting unacceptable behaviour easier for everyone involved. Having a system that allows people to make anonymous complaints can make some people feel more comfortable to speak up and less afraid of repercussions.

If in doubt, speak to someone in HR to find what anti-bullying policies are in place and ask if there is a way to make them more prominent within the office, such as posting them on meeting boards or having them easily accessible in break rooms.

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Written by Bonnie Evie Gifford
Bonnie Evie Gifford is a Senior Writer at Happiful.
Written by Bonnie Evie Gifford
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