Now, while there are common ways bullying manifests among adults, we cannot discount the existence of cyber bullying among adults as well. Social media has become a huge part of our cultural landscape, as many adults use it to not only monitor their children’s activity but to stay in touch with friends and family near and far. Even more, social media has made it into the landscape of the business world as well as creating a platform for busy adults to create more personal connections with others. Learn about Adult Bullies Now!
A recent story featured on ABC’s 20/20 revealed an extreme case of cyber bullying by an IT consultant who harassed his former mistress via the web. Bruce Stimon, 47, took to prostitution sites to advertise his former mistress, 32-year-old Soraida Hicks as an escort on prostitution websites. Interested suitors were directed to her home and her job, causing her to eventually lose her job at a local bank.
Stimon was just getting started, though. He would send a secretly taped video of a sexual encounter between Hicks and himself to Hick’s daughter and all of her Twitter followers. He posted a picture of her on another social media site claiming Hicks had several sexually transmitted diseases, and used his technology background to get the necessary information to have the electricity to her home shut off. Believing, rightfully, that her and her daughter’s safety was in danger, Hicks began working with local police who eventually picked him up after he stalked her at her home and slashed all her tires not once, but twice. Stimon is now serving a 7-year prison sentence.
While most encounters don’t become as exaggerated as the previous example, Adult Bullies can be exceptionally difficult to deal with (as you have just seen). In today’s economic climate and competitive workplace, Adult Bullies can also run rampant. Examples of workplace bullying can range from being demeaned about your performance or intelligence, having co-workers sabotage your efforts, having requests denied or ignored, rude or disrespectful treatment, being lied to, being given the “silent treatment”, having others ignore or routinely arrive late for meetings you’ve called, being the target of mean pranks or being denied a promotion or raise unjustly.
Painful? Absolutely. But are there ways that you, as the victim of adult bullying, can confront these injustices… whether personal in nature or whether they are happening in the workplace. First, however, have a heart-to-heart talk with yourself. Essentially, you’ll need to honestly deal with your feelings about the treatment you are receiving. If it’s a minor annoyance and not truly affecting you in a major way, dealing with it may be as simple as refusing to deal with it. If merely ignoring and giving no attention or energy to the issue helps you to deal with the Adult Bullies effectively, by all means, do it.
However, when the way you’re being treated is affecting your sleep, your job performance and your emotional outlook, you must address the issue. In the workplace, especially, documentation is key. Whether you jot it down in a journal or keep an informal folder, you cannot address supervisors or HR professionals without proof. In other words, if they are to take your complaints seriously, you have to make the case, over time, and not leave the conclusion to one simple, singular example that can be easily explained away by the bully.
In some cases of Adult Bullying, you may decide to confront the bully yourself. It is vitally important, however, to take at least one other person with you, especially if you feel your safety might be in question. The number of individuals who will stand with you is truly a personal decision, but bear in mind that adults who engage in bullying are already insecure individuals, and taking a huge group to place them in an inferior position may backfire on you.
Once you have decided to confront the individual, be sure you are doing it on neutral ground. In other words, not in his/her office or home and not in yours. Perhaps a restaurant or coffee shop would provide a great backdrop. Even more importantly, however, is that you as the victim of Adult Bullies approach the conversation confidently and firmly. You don’t want to walk in attacking the individual personally; that never works. But you do want to have a fact-based conversation about what is happening and be certain that the person understands that you are not approaching them as a vulnerable victim, but as a confident individual who is giving the bully a chance to acknowledge and respond to the behavior. Begin with the end in mind–you want the behavior to stop, not to engage in an unproductive, highly emotional exchange that bears no lasting benefit.
As an adult, you must remember you have options. If the behavior is not changing, you have to make an intelligent decision that is right for your emotional health. If you have to remove yourself from a toxic situation, do not hesitate to do that. Sometimes it will mean looking for a new job, a new residence or an overall fresh start. But you’re not in grade school and you play a huge role in the prevention of further bullying.
Finally, victims of Adult Bullies often find a way to blame themselves for the mistreatment they have suffered. If this is you, stop now. We’ve all heard the old adage: “Hurting people hurts people.” While most individuals want to overcome their past, emotional issues are difficult to confront for most, because it requires a person to re-live a challenging event or to revisit feelings which may have suppressed (sometimes for many years). In either case, the problem lies within the person who is doing the bullying. It is important that you don’t internalize an issue that was never yours from the beginning. Instead, do what you have to do to remain healthy, whole and emotionally stable despite the infractions hurled in your direction.
Are you the victim of Adult Bullies? have you met adult bullies in your workplace? Let us know your experience with adult bullies!