There really isn't enough emphasis on adult bullying. Many people believe it only happens in childhood but this is a fallacy. Bullying can happen in the workplace, with family, neighbours and anywhere else really.
Being bullied as an adult can be hard to admit. There is a sense of shame that comes with being bullied as an adult because so many people believe it mainly happens in childhood.
Many people believe that to be bullied you have to appear weaker but actually that isn't true either. Anyone can be bullied. Even the "strongest" of us can become victim to someone else. All it takes is someone who feels less than and who wants to exert their authority by trying to control you or by putting you down.
When going through the motions of being bullied you can go through a fear like no other. You can feel on edge or numb. Maybe you might want to hide away?
The after effects of bullying can take years to recover from. You might find yourself in a constant fight or flight feeling. Similar to childhood trauma you can find it effects your whole life. You may interact with people differently, the other people in your life might question why you just don't get over it! But what they may not understand is that being victimised over and over again can leave you feeling so vulnerable that you might struggle thereafter with anxiety and depression.
You can become suspicious of everyone around you, putting up barriers to anyone who may even attempt to be close to you. This can feel so lonely and isolating that it may increase the impact that the bullying had on you as you might feel that everyone is out to get you.
Bullies often like an audience and their responses to you will probably differ when it's one on one to when they have a crowd. This can leave you feeling like crowds are something to fear, they aren't but you can feel so anxious that anything can set you off.
Try to be gentle with yourself when dealing with the after effects of bullying. I won't patronize you with trying to state that the bully is the weak one as when you're their victim it doesn't comfort you that much.
What I will say is that if you have struggled with a bully and you need support please seek help. Being bullied is a form of trauma and those feelings can last long after the bullying has stopped.
Talking to someone who will help you rebuild your confidence and is on your side can make all the difference. And if you are still being bullied they can support you to find a way out of the situation. You don't have to suffer alone.
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About Marilyn McKenzie
I am Marilyn McKenzie and I am a qualified psychotherapist who has worked with couples, addiction, DV, young offending, grief and bereavement as well as anxiety and depression.
I am integrative in my approach but often work systemically. I have a private practise and work with relate.