Hollywood actor, Tom Cruise, battled the effects of childhood bullying. For many years he struggled with anxiety panic at home and at school.
Cruise says of his father, Thomas C. Mapother III:
“He was a bully and a coward … the kind of a person who, if something goes wrong, they kick you. It was a great lesson in my life – how he’d lull you in, make you feel safe, and then, bang! … Big bully comes up, pushes you. Your heart’s pounding, you sweat, and you feel like you’re going to vomit …”
Bullies have a strong urge to dominate. They lack empathy. Untroubled by anxiety or guilt over the suffering they inflict on others. They blame others for their offenses.
Males are more prone to physically bully. Females bully by picking on appearances, social status, and relationships.
Generally, bullies attack – through damaging, manipulating, or controlling relationships and situations.
How about the victim?
Some victims of bullies are “blind.” They refuse to defend themselves. Offer healthy boundaries. They allow themselves to be bound by the bully to isolation, humiliation, and despair.
A case in point is Martha, one of my clients who is repeatedly abused verbally and physically by her husband. For years, she displays pain, which fueled further attacks from her bullying spouse.
It impresses me how much Martha readily acquiesce too quickly to her husband’s demands. She’d just cry and cower. She’s so submissive before she’s picked on and bullied.
Dealing with bullies is not avoiding conflict. Running away, pretending bullying or abuse is not happening, hiding it, or being afraid to talk about it is actually destructive.
Facing bullies is taking responsibility to speak up to them. You walk tall so they don’t perceive you as weak or easily manipulated.
You set and state limits on bullies. Healthy boundaries so they know your thresholds. You don’t volunteer to be a victim.
You remove yourself from a relationship in which a bully tries to control or own you. You don’t allow bullies to undermine your sanity … or that of your children, loved ones.
Face bullies. Protect yourself. Seek support. Be brave.