They are everywhere these days. There used to be a time when we thought bullies were just the mean kids in the hallways picking on the little guy. That’s still true but bullying has come to the forefront of people’s minds more and more these days and we are realizing they aren’t just the schoolyard jerks. For some of us, the bully is a family member. It could be a brother or sister, aunt or uncle, it may even be your spouse or parent.
We’ve read the headlines, heard the stories, almost weekly about another person being bullied to death. It’s not taken so lightly anymore. Gone are the days when your dad tells you if that boy picks on you again just clock him one. Things are a lot more serious these days as many people are taking their own lives to get away from the bullies. But what do we do when that bully is a family member? Here are a few things to keep in mind that may help you deal with the bully in the family better.
Always. Saying nothing back to them and not replying to their harsh mean words is the best thing you can do. When you try to confront them and their meanness, it will only spark a bitter battle that you will not win. And there is no winning in this scenario anyway. Don’t hang around and listen to them spew more hateful and mean stuff to you. Just walk away. It will leave them alone with their thoughts and when they no longer have anyone to use as a verbal punching bag, the bantering will stop, if even for the time being.
2. Nod and smile.
If you can’t leave the room, just nod and smile. Don’t acknowledge their harsh verbal attack on you. Do not engage and try to have a conversation with them. Just nod and smile and put them on pause. There isn’t much you can do about them going on and on and being the big bully that they are being but you can go on ignore mode, which is smile and nod and not really take anything in.
3. Stay centered.
This is hard but remember it’s not about you, it’s always about them. Their problems, their deep seated issues, their anger that is building up inside of them. It has nothing to do with you, it’s all the turmoil swirling around inside their heart and head. In most cases, you are the first person they see and they unleash on you. Stay calm and centered and remember it’s not about you.
4. Write a truth letter to them.
This is a very powerful tool and though it may not make the bully stop being a bully it will certainly help you to be better patient and understanding with them. Write them a letter explaining everything about what they are doing, and how it makes you feel. You can write a one-page letter or a 10 -page letter. Write until your hand gets sore. Get it all out. It will help to release any ill feelings you are carrying inside of you because of the hurtful things you must listen to.
5. Tell them to stop.
Stand up to the bully. Let him or her know that their words are mean and hurtful and you are tired of being their verbal punching bag. Many of us take verbal abuse because either we are afraid to stand up to our attacker or in some cases, it’s dangerous to stand up to our attacker (in which case you should definitely get help immediately). Some of us just want to keep the peace at any cost. If you have the opportunity to stand up to them and not fear for your safety, then do so. Shut them down.
Many people are trapped in situations where the bully is a spouse and do fear for their safety. In any extreme case of bullying always try to get help if you can. The bullying will never stop if nothing is done about it. Some bullies don’t even realize they are being mean. That’s the way they were raised and that’s all they know. Bullying can be wiped out. But it has to start somewhere.