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When it comes to a family bully, it's important to create firm boundaries between you and the bully. Here's how to set boundaries with someone who bullies you.
When dealing with a family bully, remain calm and avoid acting out in anger or frustration. Remember you cannot control the bully, but you can control your reaction. Remain in control of your emotions and try to disengage from any interaction with the bully.
It's also important to remind yourself that you have a choice. You don't have to stay at an event or tolerate the mistreatment. You can leave, stand up to the bully, establish a boundary, or try to ignore the bullying. But do not give the bully what they want by reacting negatively or emotionally.
Anytime someone bullies you, it's important that you learn how to stand up for yourself . Being assertive means that you are honest about how you feel without acting aggressively, engaging in name-calling , or being a bully yourself. Be specific about the problem without getting emotional.
But, be prepared for the bully to challenge your perceptions or tell you that you are being unrealistic, selfish, or too sensitive. It's important not to own these accusations; they are just another attempt to control you or manipulate the situation.
Most of the time, family bullying takes place in the form of relational aggression , but it can, in extreme cases, escalate into physical bullying too. Oftentimes, though, family bullies resort to manipulation, humiliation, and intimidation.
They also might engage in constant criticism, blame the target for things, call them names, and refuse to value or appreciate them. A family bully may even engage in gaslighting or attempt to isolate the target by turning other family members against them or using the silent treatment to shut them out.
Much like traditional bullying or even cyberbullying, dealing with a family bully can have a lasting impact. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the American Osteopathic Association (AOE), adults who are bullied experience a number of physical and mental consequences as the result of bullying.2
For instance, 71% reported struggling with stress issues, 70% indicated that depression and anxiety were a concern, and 55% reported a loss in confidence. Other effects of adult bullying included sleep loss, headaches, as well as muscle tension and pain.
Contrary to popular belief, bullying doesn't always disappear along with the acne, driving courses, and standardized tests of the teen years. It can continue into adulthood and can be found in just about any setting.
In your family, the person bullying you might be a sibling, a parent, an aunt, an uncle, a grandparent, an adult child, or even one of your in-laws.
Here's an example of how to establish a boundary with someone. Let's assume your partner's aunt repeatedly insults your cooking and humiliates you in front of your guests. If you find this behavior hurtful, pull her to the side privately and let her know that her comments hurt your feelings and that you would like for it to stop.
You could say: "I am hurt and offended when you make fun of my cooking abilities. Please don't do that again." You could leave it at that and see if it happens again or you can communicate a consequence.
Bullying perpetrated by adults is more subtle and manipulative than the tactics children use and it tends to happen more slowly over time through small manipulative or controlling actions and words.2
What's more, this type of behavior can be confusing and cause you to doubt your perceptions. You may even question your memory or your judgments. For this reason, it can be helpful to write down the bullying incidents including how they made you feel. Doing so, will help you recognize that what you're experiencing is real and not something you're imagining.
Being around a family member that bullies you can be draining and impact your health in negative ways. So, you may want to limit your contact with this person, or refuse to have any contact with them until they can treat you with respect.
If you have to spend time with someone because of a family event like a wedding, a funeral, or a baby shower , make sure you plan to take time for yourself afterward. Go for a walk. Read a good book. Get a massage. Do something that will help you de-stress and get rid of the negative energy that a bully brings into your life.
Sometimes it can help to share the details of your experience with a trusted friend. The key is to find someone you can confide in. Steer clear of gossip but look for someone who will support you when a bullying incident occurs.
Some people opt for telling another family member instead of a friend, but be careful in doing so. Sometimes family members feel they need to "fix" the situation and will end up creating more problems in the process.
Try to talk to someone who will keep what you say in confidence and not make the situation more difficult.
Then, if it happens again, remind her that you don't appreciate her insults and that you may not invite her to anymore dinner parties. Be careful not to make a threat, but just state the consequences in a matter-of-fact sort of way.
Keep in mind, she may never change her behavior, but you do not have to tolerate it just because she is family. Anytime family members continue to cross the line in their treatment of you, you need to limit the amount of contact you have with them. It will be hard to do, but in the end it's better for your mental health.
If these things are happening in your family, it's normal to feel that your power is being diminished. You also may feel like your emotional or mental health is suffering due to the bullying.
If that is the case, it's time to start questioning the health of the relationship. Not only should you consider limiting your contact with this family member, but you also may want to get outside help such as a counselor or a mental health professional to help you learn how to interact and cope with this family member.
Sometimes, family bullying happens simply because the adult who bullies has never learned how to relate in a healthy way. Other times, it occurs because they want to manipulate and control situations.
It's important to note that family bullying is not the same thing as domestic violence, which occurs between dating, cohabitating, or married partners. Although the intention is the same and there is some overlap in types of behaviors, family bullying involves adult family members and not intimate partners.
Meanwhile, nearly 20% of those surveyed said that they had a mental breakdown because of the bullying and 17% indicated that the could not function from day to day.2
The AOE indicates that the emotional strain caused by adult bullying could even lead to gastrointestinal changes, elevated blood pressure, and cardiovascular issues. What's more, 43% of those surveyed said that bullying among adults is becoming more accepted.
If you have a family member who is bullying you, it's important that you take steps to protect your emotional and mental health. Bullying behaviors don't end without some type of intervention.
That said, you cannot control another person's behavior or choices, so you will need to learn how to be assertive, set boundaries, and take care of yourself. And in some cases, you will need to cut ties with the person bullying you. This may be a difficult decision to make, but in the end, the important thing is that you're taking care of yourself.
It's also important that you recognize the warning signs of bullying. This will involve looking at how your interactions with the other person make you feel as well as taking a closer look at their behaviors.
For instance, if you feel hurt, confused, frustrated, misunderstood, anxious, worthless, or like you're walking on eggshells any time you interact with this person, chances are high that you're being bullied. Meanwhile, here are some telltale signs that your family member is bullying you.
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Hi, I am Nishi, A Passionate Freelance Writer, blogger, Reader, Learner and Traveller, Thanks! My Blog: https://www.meliorismlaconic.com
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