Dealing with Bully-Victims: A Non-Christianese Perspective

Dealing with Bully-Victims: A Non-Christianese Perspective October 13, 2018
Photo Credit: Pixabay (Engin_Akyurt)

During a recent conversation, a friend described a situation where a person was causing considerable trouble in her life. I responded, “Sounds like you are dealing with a Bully-Victim.” At those words, a light bulb went off in her head.
It was like someone brought clarity to ambiguity.

Been there.

I recognize more people are dealing with Bully-Victims than we care to realize.
What is a Bully-Victim?
You have probably figured it out like my friend. A Bully-Victim is a person who attempts to bully people and also play the victim when confronted or when bully strategies are unsuccessful.

In other words, a Bully-Victim is another expression of people demonstrating the toxic behavior.

These individuals can be family, friends, colleagues, clients, employers, and spiritual leaders. No one is exempt from occupying this role.

Perhaps, your pet.

Otherwise, no race, gender, sexual orientation has the corner on it.

I have fiery righteous indignation when it comes to these kinds of things. I have to lean on the everlasting arms of God to hold my mule when I confront people who act as Bully-Victims.

I am writing this post because there are people who tolerate toxic relationships because they think it is Christ-like. I am bothered by seeing this happen on people’s jobs, in churches, and in people’s homes.

So, I am writing this post for anyone who is dealing with Bully-Victims. I am writing it for those who reach out for help from Christians and all you get are Christianese responses, which consists of cherry-picked scriptures and problematic advice.  You might be better off listening to Charlie Brown’s Sunday school teacher: “Wha, Wha, wha, whahm, doormat.”

Don’t get me wrong, I am a member of  Team “Take the High Road.” Also, I realize that we deal with people who require a much firmer approach along this elevated path.

And that approach is just as Christ-like as turning the other cheek.
As a matter of fact, I contend that it demonstrates this Christ-like action.

In this post, I discuss Bully-Victims in action and three things to consider when dealing with them.

File this post under “Things Church Folks Don’t Teach You.”

Bully-Victims in Action

I have confronted different people who try to exert an aggressive amount of coercion in their relational dynamics. (That’s the long way of saying people who act like jerks or bullies).

Typically, when dealing these kinds of personalities, I take a very firm and direct approach.
With most bully types, we reach an understanding rather quickly.
That understanding is: Don’t go there with me, again, because I shall be more than obliged to remind you of your place in my life without mincing words.

In other words, with bully-type people you need to let them know, “I’m not the one.” You don’t need to know who is the one. All that matters is that they know it’s not you.

You can powerfully convey this message without name-calling or hurling insults.

On the other hand, the Bully-Victim does not get the message.

No, ma’am. No sir.
Nottattall (one word).

The Bully-Victim seeks to control people and situations, sometimes, by any means necessary.
When these individuals do not succeed in their bullying tactics, they go from trash-talking Goliath to sobbing “woe is me” victims.

Suddenly, they attempt to position you as the bad guy for challenging them on their egregious behavior.
And if they are masterful manipulators, which most of them are, they attempt to rally people around them to believe this fictitious narrative of their engagement with you.

They are the queens and kings of revisionist history.  On the cutting room floor, you will find the part of the story involving their conniving and mean-spirited antics. That part of the story is gone with the wind.

Often, the Bully-Victim’s account unfolds a tale of your cruelty (which is a distorted version of you challenging their problematic behavior and/or setting a boundary). I have seen people transform from coldness and mean-spiritedness that would make Hannibal Lecter look like a lamb to a shrinking, sobbing Scarlett O’Hara who pulls on your heartstrings.

They play upon the two sides to every story perspective that most people have.
I have learned, especially when it comes to these cases, some people actually have the correct side, and it is not the Bully-Victim. This understanding helps to avoid being part of a Bully-Victim’s manipulation if someone else is the target.

They are quite convincing in their performance when they switch characters.
Experienced Bully-Victims are so skilled that you might start second-guessing yourself.

Please don’t allow yourself to get emotionally manipulated into some mammy and reply, “Oh, no. Po’ Mizz Scarlitt. Please don’t cry, Mizz Scarlitt.”
It is not all in your head.
And the truth is crying Mizz Scarlitt enslaves people for her selfish gain.

Handle accordingly.

With this being said, here are three things to consider when dealing with a Bully-Victim.

1) Keep Boundaries Alive

I am sharing with you what I shared with my friend and others.
Like hope, keep the boundaries alive.
You are not obligated to participate. Jesus, God, John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, Peter, Paul, Moses, and Mary will not be displeased because you do not engage with the toxic dynamic.

It took me some time to recognize this in my spiritual journey.
People will try to guilt you into participating in a toxic dynamic, too.

Some Church folks will attempt to judge you as unChrist-like because you choose to disengage from toxicity.

Let me tell you in nonChristianese:
Since Jesus paid it all, he already paid for the foolishness of a Bully-Victim. You do not have to.

If you insist on being a martyr, do so for the cause of Christ. Someone who needs more people to wake up to see their tactics, a Snicker bar, and a good therapist is not that cause.
That drama is the cause of nonsense.

You get to choose. If the bully victim invests in professional help to learn healthier ways of living, you can determine if and how re-engaging would work.

You get to determine the boundaries and how they look.

2) Love the Bully-Victim

Whenever I talk to various Church folks about dealing with toxic people, they speak of love and turning the other cheek.
Love is not going along with toxicity.

Love Bully-Victims enough to stop engaging. If you really love people, then you will not participate in the very thing that hurts them.

If you will not give a cocktail to a person addicted to alcohol, then why would you provide toxic fuel to a Bully-Victim?

That’s not Christ-like.

Given that you did not go Mixed Martial Arts on them, your confronting them, establishing and maintaining boundaries represent turning the other cheek.

Remember this insight the next time Church folks speaking Christianese attempt to judge you for not being an enabler.

Going along with Bully-Victims does not help them to see the light. They have no reason or incentive to change because each time they feel that their tactics are successful, they become more emboldened and empowered to continue.

Love is respecting yourself and them enough to stand firm in the established boundary, even if the Bully-Victim lashes out.

3) Get Help

Some situations are more intricate than others. Therefore, if you are dealing with a Bully-Victim, I encourage you to seek help from a mental health professional.  Praying, meditating, and finding the support of friends and family, are all beneficial.

Additionally, the support from a highly qualified third party unattached to the situation can help you with the self-work and possible tools to navigate your particular dynamic.

This professional support can also help you in the future should you encounter a Bully-Victim, again.

It is not okay to seek help outside the church building- It is a wonderful.

Some church folks cite scriptures to “prove” their reasons to enable Bully-Victims. I hope you turn the other cheek, ears, and your entire body to ignore them.

Jesus wept.
Not like Bully-Victims.
Know the difference.

"That is judging a person so no excuse."

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  • “…they attempt to position you as the bad guy for challenging them on their egregious behaviour.”

    OMG, do they ever! Stand your ground and call them on their behaviour and you become public enemy #1. The worst thing is how many times I’ve experienced this behaviour at the hands of christians.

  • Sandra Urgo

    Yep,I’ve experienced this with my sister for 5 years, involving late mother’s care, and subsequent inheritance issues, which the family lawyer actually saved for us. I attempted once, two years later to initiate a relationship with her, due to a friend’s comment and my own guilt about forgiveness. (Against the better judgement of the rest of my family) The resulting communication was unfortunate and unproductive. So I realized there are people and toxic relationships that must be avoided due to self respect and that’s the best solution. Our pastor, in his weekly prayers, offers a prayer “for those we struggle to love”, and for me, that is the best way to handle this situation in the most Christian way possible.

  • @RaceandGrace

    Regarding Christians: It is enough to cause one to wonder about the commonality of these dynamics across different church and religious institutions.

  • @RaceandGrace

    Sandra, I empathize with you about the influence of guilt about forgiveness and others (individual who might not understand this dynamic or how it can show up in family systems). Thank you for sharing part of your experience involving this bully-victim phenomenon within your family, as well as ways you are learning to navigate it. You are not alone on this journey.

  • ElsieAnne

    Yup. Got one of those in my own family. Treats people horribly, then sulks because they aren’t friendly to him. When I mentioned to him that he is hurting people, he assumed the victim position and said, “Oh, everybody is scolding me. No matter what I do, I get scolded.” (sulk, sulk.)
    Fortunately, I’ve learned enough from counseling and AlAnon so that I don’t let these people get under my skin and make me feel guilty. Nevertheless, dealing with them can be exhausting. Use detachment and distancing. When detachment (letting it go in one ear and out the other) becomes too difficult, then distancing (putting some physical distance between yourself and the difficult person, at least for a while) becomes necessary. Love does not require enabling these people.

  • @RaceandGrace

    You are right about how engaging in this dynamic can feel exhausting. Thank you for sharing wisdom and resources/strategies from your journey.

  • Chari McCauley

    Additionally, the support from a highly qualified third party unattached to the situation can help you with the self-work and possible tools to navigate your particular dynamic.

    Exactly, why I read this blog. Do I think Father lead me here? Oh yeah! Yes, I do. Please keep writing.

  • Chari McCauley

    I know, but see where I get stuck is, I see differently now than I did when I was a kid. My Dad was accepting of most people, who hangs out with unpleasant people, anyway,…unless you have to? In that time period there were boundries, I found this out when I was about 6 or 7, you did not cross publically.

    It bothered him, too that he was not allowed to just be friends with his friends, alcohol was a legal pacifier for that pain; and everybody did it. You weren’t popular if you didn’t smoke those winstons or drink that Schlitz, now, it’s PBR…. My mom was BORN, by thr grace of “God”, left-handed. She, among many were freaks, a punishment from “God”, made fun of by right-handed kids, and I will just bet…teachers. She was not an alcoholic, but she did follow every rule every “expert” ever told her to. It was our DUTY to trust people who had authority, because they were “experts” and ALWAYS had the “good” intentions for the people they were supposed to help. Presidents, doctors, policemen, teachers, most definately “men of “God”; and, I’m sorry, I see the church as a wicked stepmother; because we already have a Mother Who art in Heaven.

    Honestly, I, personally never did, and don’t now understand the reason for any cruelty, let alone racism.
    DOES the grass say to the dandelion, get out? No, we do!

    A dandelion ain’t just a weed, you can use it for food, tea, birds build their home out of them, AND the bright yellow makes the green stand out. Does the dandelion say to the violet leave you aren’t the right color?

    Who would want to live in a world where the only kind of flower ever grown were the pesky, freaking, yellow dandelions that just pop right up after you mow them all down!?

    I don’t understand the draw toward that NOR viewing half the population…that is males and female…I don’t care which color you are, I have met VERY FEW men who DON’T treat women…in the way you describe. We call it gaslighting. Why does anyone get delight from putting another through something they, themselves would NEVER want to experience? Why is hurting others SO entertaining? Drugs are a pain killer. And, I know our government…with little helpers…make sure that some people both become and remain addicts, because THEN we can call them a burden on society.

    I suspect this new breast cancer thing women going through menopause are SUDDENLY coming down with, but surprise! Young women…more fertile, and men are getting it, too. Sometimes, plans backfire…….