Bullying, Opinion

The Label I Cannot Stand Being Thrown Around Like Confetti

As a rule, I try these days to spend most of my time in a bubble of positivity. I don’t want drama in my life and I’ve taken great steps to remove it where necessary. I will cut people out of my life, no matter who they are, if they bring nothing but stress or misery. That may sound harsh but it’s not something I do lightly; it’s a painful decision – nonetheless it’s sometimes the right one. My happiness and that of my family trumps everything, and I refuse to be around people who threaten it. Nobody should live that way.

Everybody has the right to live a quiet, joyful life. Nobody should have to tolerate unbidden nastiness, snide remarks, or outright character assassination (though it’s not limited to personal circumstances – I’m also a bit of a consumer rights vigilante). And I have this (unfortunate?) trait whereby when I see behaviour I consider to be unjustifiable – particularly when it’s affecting somebody less able or willing to defend themselves – I can’t help but call it out. I sometimes get myself in trouble with my opinions, but having been on the receiving end of such behaviour too many times myself, I won’t be stopping anytime soon.

Falsely Accused of Bullying - Strong Woman

If you’re reading this and you think it’s about you, you might be right, in as much as I’m calling on multiple shitty experiences I’ve encountered with various people in my life. And, I believe, that in most cases the people I’m referring to are narcissists (so for once in your life you might actually be legitimately correct!).

I’m talking about this today because I’m so over seeing this situation play out time and again.

I’ve held off publishing this post for several weeks because I’m not looking to flame the situation that prompted me to write it. They said their piece, I said mine, and it was resolved. But I still think this is a subject that warrants a conversation, because I’ll bet there are a lot of people who will relate.

I am, of course, talking about the ‘bully’ label, and specifically when it’s used inappropriately.

Traits of a True Bully

I’ve had my fair share of dealings with bullies in the past. For the most part they have several behaviours in common:

  • They’re explicitly nasty and do little to hide the fact;
  • The reality is that they’re cowards;
  • They’re usually unhappy.

As an adult I’ve had the misfortune of being around people who are a whole other level of spiteful, because they’re covert and brilliant at covering their tracks. They’re also very destructive, thriving on the damage they cause and enjoying maximum devastation. These people also have a common characteristic:

They speciously and publicly accuse others of bullying them.

They say there’s no smoke without fire. Maybe so; but be sure to see through the plumes and check for the source.

Falsely Accused of Bullying

I am so sick of seeing this insidious and blatant fabrication bandied about with the intention of deflecting their own poor behaviour. It’s generally in retaliation to somebody daring to stand their ground – and it’s bullshit.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

  1. The person in question disagreed with the aggressor.
    That’s not bullying.
  2. The incident in question followed spiteful or provocative words from the aggressor.
    That’s not bullying.
  3. The person told the aggressor they’re wrong.
    That’s not bullying.
  4. The person in question asked the aggressor to explain an accusation they made.
    That’s not bullying.
  5. The person in question refused to accept an incorrect allegation the aggressor made about them.
    That’s not bullying.

Being called a bully is one of the most socially unacceptable labels going, and therefore also one of the most hurtful. Spurious accusations are cruel, and I can’t help but wonder whether those responsible are even aware of what they’re doing. Bullying is subjective, granted, but I’m talking about very clear instances when a person lashes out with the claim as a form of defence because they can’t or won’t explain their own inadequate conduct.

Bullying is a serious issue. Here's how it feels when you're falsely accused, and some of the reasons it might happen.

Traits of a Narcissist

This pattern of behaviour is destructive and unwarranted, harmful and unnecessary. Of course, when you’re dealing with a narcissist (or other unpleasant personality disorder), logic and fairness are irrelevant. The aggressor uses highly sophisticated techniques to gaslight those around them, engineering situations and manipulating pawns people for their own agenda.

To be falsely accused of bullying is one of the most devastating allegations you can have hurled your way, especially if you’ve been on the receiving end of a true bully. And it’s only made worse when it’s fired your way for simply having learned to be assertive, and not to allow yourself or those you care about to be victims. It’s an issue I feel strongly about, and I endorse any campaign which aims to eliminate it.

Groundless suggestions of bullying are bitter and desperate attempts by somebody who knows they’ve been beat. Such situations say nothing about the accused and everything about the accuser.

Of course it doesn’t feel that way, and it’s a very powerful tool used to attempt to shut down any person daring enough to confront bad behaviour. But we mustn’t be cowed – because that’s what they’re counting on.

Do you have experience of this? Have you personally been labelled a bully for bravely standing up to somebody aggressive, or have you seen it happen to others around you?

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