In Bullying Definitions, Bullying Facts, Bullying Tips

Intimidation: Bullying’s Evil Twin


Bullying has a twin, and it is intimidation. When teens or adults bully someone, their goal is to intimidate the victim into feeling fear and shame, and thus submission. Intimidating a person can come in many forms, and if the intimidation is life-threatening, the person can be arrested for their behavior.

How Intimidation Works

There are certain characteristics and behaviors that are common factors in the process of intimidating another person. Two clinical psychologists, Braiker and Simon, have identified tactics that show how bullies use intimidation to control others:

  • Negative reinforcement.
  • Intermittent reinforcement that creates an atmosphere of fear and doubt.
  • Denial: when the manipulator denies the fact that they have done anything wrong.
  • Rationalization: when the aggressor makes excuses for their behavior: close to lying.
  • Tactics such as nagging, sulking, yelling, the silent treatment, crying, threats, emotional blackmail, or a guilt trip.
  • Frequent lying or cheating.
  • Explosive behavior, confrontation or verbal abuse that can establish dominance in one instance.
  • Selective attention, saying things like “I don’t want to hear it.”
  • Diversion or never giving a straight answer.
  • Evasion, avoiding or irrelevant responses.
  • Shaming the victim; the manipulator uses sarcasm and “put downs” others to increase fear and doubt.
  • Playing the victim role: trying to gain pity or evoke compassion in order to get something from another person.
  • Leading the victim on.
  • Seduction, using charm, flattery or over supporting another person to lower their defenses, so the manipulator can get what they want.
  • Blaming others.
  • Using anger or rage to get the victim to submit. The manipulator puts on an act. Anger is used as a tool.

What Are the Characteristics of a Person who Is Intimidated?

Alternatively, there are common behaviors that draw a manipulator to them, and Braiker and Simon have identified those. The aggressor typically scopes the characteristics and vulnerabilities of their victims, so they are aware of how they are being manipulated.

  • Having the desire to over-please.
  • Addicted to getting the acceptance and approval of others.
  • Has the fear of expressing honest emotions, such as anger or frustration.
  • Lack of assertiveness.
  • Has no personal boundaries.
  • Low self esteem and self reliance.
  • Victim cannot accept that some people are devious, cunning or just don’t care about others.
  • Lacks of self confidence.
  • Over-intellectualizes, trying to discover why the one who is practicing the intimidation has a reason to be hurtful.
  • The victim is co-dependent.

Being Intimidated Affects an Individual

The aggressor uses offensive and intimidating characteristics to overcome the victim. Anyone can assume a controlling position with these intimidating definitions and use them to manipulate people into doing what they want them to do. But this persona is not a popular or favorable one to assume.

The Work Situation

Anyone can put on intimidating behaviors anywhere, such as school, work, at the mall, or even at traffic. At work, the behaviors are typically found in forms of verbal abuse or degrading the employee and their position. This may be found in ridiculing the victim in front of others or sabotaging their effort and stealing credit for their work and is also evidenced by creating circumstances that limit the abilities to do the job.

The number of those who have admitted they have been the victim of a bully at work has been increasing over the past few decades. Bullying has also increased in school situations, and it is resulting in more young people acting violently every day.

Continued controlling behavior or bullying contributes to health issues in the victims, which would include high blood pressure, panic attacks, headaches and ulcers.

Learned Behavior

The spirit of intimidation is a learned behavior. It stems from a need to control, but it is not a healthy leadership of others. Typically, when you observe someone trying to intimidate or bully, stay away from them or seek help from proper authorities.

Learn how to stand up to a bully here!

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