Bullying is a common problem, often causing deep and lasting emotional damage. Cognitive Therapy may help you overcome insecurity and low self esteem that may attracts bullies, or allow them to continue abuse.

You can learn to respond to bullies from a position of confidence and strength. If you have been bullied at different times in your life, you can learn to avoid becoming a victim again. You may learn to recognize and then avoid bullies, and deal successfully with aggressive or threatening situations.


How bullying works

Bullying is usually psychological, leaving no physical scars. Abuse may be verbal or emotional, including trivial nit-picking criticism, constant fault-finding often combined with refusal to value, acknowledge or praise. Manipulation, isolation and exclusion are other favourite tactics.

Bullies are often masters of manipulation. The objectives of the bully are power, control, domination and subjugation. Bullies may use: dis-empowerment; excessive levels of fear, shame, embarrassment and guilt; manipulation of emotions and perceptions; ritual humiliation or constant criticism.

Bullies see vulnerability as an opportunity for manipulation, and may exploit those who are kind, friendly, insecure or afraid of conflict.


In the family

Bullies often have a Jekyll & Hyde nature, becoming aggressive without warning or reason. They may use compulsive lying, deception, manipulation, unpredictability, denial, arrogance, or narcissism, whilst appearing charming and plausible, particularly when others are present.

Bullies are often subtle, devious or psychological, and may abuse with a smile. Attention seeking behaviour may be used to control a victim who wishes to ‘avoid a scene’.

When close to being outwitted or exposed, they may feign victim hood turning the focus on themselves, manipulating their victims through their guilt. Bullies may make themselves the centre of attention, claiming to be the injured party whilst portraying the victim as the villain. When the victim tries to defend themselves, they may be criticized or attacked.


At Work

Bullying at work may be an abuse of power, position or simply co-worker abuse. Bullies often use persistent, vindictive, cruel or humiliating behaviour to undermine, criticize, condemn, or humiliate an individual.

This can make the victim’s life a misery, affecting their performance and damaging their career. The victim often resigns due to ill health or mental illness.



  • Find out if your employer has a policy and procedures on harassment
  • Stand calm and firm and do not allow yourself to be a target
  • Do not become isolated, seek immediate support and advice
  • Keep a record of all incidents which cause you distress or are undermining – log dates and details and write down your feelings after each such occurrence
    together with your own response
  • Try to get witnesses to bullying incidents by avoiding situations where you are alone with the bully
  • Do not take action alone. Make an appointment with your company harassment adviser and seek their guidance and support
  • Talk to colleagues and see if they are experiencing the same treatment as you
  • Follow the company grievance procedures with the help and support of your Harassment Adviser, Personnel or Union officers
  • Keep your complaint as objective as possible so that you can’t be accused of filing the complaint out of malice or ambition
  • Make an appointment with your doctor and tell them what is happening to you at work. Follow medical instructions and get signed off if necessary