What's the Best Way to Deal With Bullies?

teenager being bullied at school

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While it might seem like dealing with bullies is a thing that only children might go through, you can be confronted with bullies at any stage of your life. You can have a bully at work, the gym, or even in your own home.

Being bullied is a frustrating and painful experience. When you are being bullied, it can often feel like things are out of your hands. While the onus is never on you to stop the bullying, and it's never your fault, there are some things you can do to handle being bullied.

This article breaks down the most valuable tips you can use to deal with a bully and protect yourself in a healthy and safe way.

How to Deal With Being Bullied

If you are being bullied, it's essential to know that it's not your fault. The only person at fault in such a situation is the bully. Nevertheless, here are some things you can do to deal with it:

  • Don't engage: Verbal bullies hope that you engage with them so that they have an excuse to keep picking on you. If the bully isn't disrupting your personal or work life, don't engage with them. When the bully starts verbally attacking you, remove yourself from the situation if you can. If it's safe for you to do so, simply walk away. 
  • Have a conversation with the bully: Many people who bully have many unresolved issues that cause them to act out. While this doesn't excuse their behavior, having a conversation with the bully might help them realize just how much their actions are hurting you and hopefully deter them from continuing. 
  • Report it: If the bully refuses to let up after having a conversation with them, you should take the issue to a higher authority. If it's happening at work, you should take it to your boss, or if it's happening at school, you can report it to a teacher. If you feel at risk of physical harm from the bully, you should consider involving the police. 
  • Recite positive affirmations: Try as you might to ignore the bully when they are saying ugly things about you; some of these things might stick in your mind. It's important to remember that, in many cases, bullies are only projecting their insecurities onto you and none of what they are saying about you is accurate. Remind yourself that you are a great person and nothing your bully says matters. 
  • Protect your personal space: If a family member is bullying you in your home, draw firmer boundaries and protect your personal space. This might involve telling a family member living with you to move out or moving out yourself if you can afford to. 
  • Get help: Getting help to deal with a bully, especially as an adult, might seem embarrassing, but don't hesitate to get help when you feel like you need it. Tell a friend or loved one that you are being bullied. 

Things You Shouldn't Do When You are Being Bullied 

If you are being bullied, remember that you are the victim, and it's not your fault. However, there are a few things you should avoid in any scenario that you are being bullied:

  • Don't blame yourself: Bullying is never your fault. It's only the bully's fault, so don't blame yourself for their shortcomings. 
  • Don't take out your frustrations on other people: If you are being bullied by someone in a position of power over you, it can be easy to let the feelings of frustration out on a subordinate. Resist the urge to do this because this would make you a bully too.
  • Don't disrupt your life: Don't disrupt your day-to-day life because of a bully. It can be tempting to skip work, school, or a family function because you'll be confronted with the bully. Don't let them disrupt your life. The exception to this is if it's unsafe for you to be in close proximity to the person who is bullying you.
  • Don't retaliate: While it might seem tempting to pay back the bully's action's in kind, you shouldn't retaliate if you are being bullied. Many bullies hope to elicit an adverse reaction from you when they bully you. Denying them this satisfaction can take away some of their power. 

Dealing With Being Cyberbullied 

Cyberbullying is a phenomenon that has become more common.  Cyberbullying takes place in digital spaces like social media, and you might never meet the person bullying you.

The first thing you should know is that you shouldn't engage with them. Cyberbullies, like every other bully, feed off your response. You can also block their accounts from viewing and interacting with yours.

If your life or physical well-being is being threatened, don't think it's just the internet. Treat it like a real threat and report it to the police. 

How to Help Someone Who Is Being Bullied 

If you observe that your child, friend, or loved one is being bullied, there are some things that you could do to help them get out of the situation in the safest and healthiest ways possible:

  • Speak up on their behalf: It can be difficult for a bullied person to report the situation to a person in authority. You can do so on their behalf if you find that they've been avoiding it.  
  • Talk to the bully: If it feels safe for you to do so, you should speak to the bully and attempt to deter them from their actions. 
  • Help build their confidence: Being bullied can take a toll on one's sense of self-worth and confidence. Help restore it by reminding them that they are not who the bully says they are. 
  • Create a support system: Feeling like they have a robust support system is vital for anyone being bullied. In combination with being bullied, feelings of isolation can lead to anxiety and depression. 

A Word From Verywell 

There's no one way to deal with bullies. Different tactics apply in different scenarios. Bullying is a horrible thing to deal with, and no one deserves to be bullied. While you can try to work out issues with the bully yourself, report to a higher authority if you feel threatened or overwhelmed. For instance, if your manager is bullying you at work, take the issue to their boss. If you find that you are having a difficult time dealing with the emotional aftermath of being bullied, please don't hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. StopBullying.Gov. What is bullying. November 5, 2021

  2. StopBullying.Gov. What is cyberbullying. November 5, 2021

  3. University of Delaware. Bullying at School: Recommendations for Teachers and Parents.

By Toketemu Ohwovoriole
Toketemu has been multimedia storyteller for the last four years. Her expertise focuses primarily on mental wellness and women’s health topics.