How Do You Spot a Bully?

Yelling guy via art parts I put the question out on twitter: how do you spot a bully? what is it that bullies do that makes them instantly recognizable as bullies. I'll be using these answers in a new book I'm working on, but I think the way articulate feedback I got is important enough to share right now, along with the twitter names of the folks who wrote them. Some folks, including yours truly, came up with several ways to spot them.

So… watch for these signs:

@katebornstein: They hurt/pick on/target ppl who aren't in a position to fight back. Like #BofA charging $5 a month to use yr debit card.

@katebornstein: They ask you either/or questions, eg my way or the highway.

@katebornstein: They shout you down, don't let you speak your ideas or opinions.

@mary_menville: They believe that the only way to meet their needs is at the expense of yours

@msmanitobain:  stare at you; mutter derogatory names at you as they pass by

@musingvirtual: the more subtle ones gaslight, reference "Are You Being Gaslighted"

@UrbanRoguery: They make 'you' statements bc its easier to attack than reflect and hear. They fight to 'win' not solve.

@fgg23: they think laughter is a weapon in itself, and sometimes it works

@fgg23: They are always SO SURE that they will get away with everything.

@fgg23: They use ignorance to their benefit. "I don't understand you" = "You're wrong"

@blurabbit147: they laugh at the suffering of others, not from a place of relating, from a place of cruelty.

@sbearbergman make themselves feel big by making you feel small

@AHaefner: ad homenim attacks (eg: They attack your words instead of responding to your point)

@SaraEileen: They belittle your emotions / opinions / sense-of-self by insisting you can't understand them, or yourself.

@Siniful They spread misinformation, for either their own gain or to put down others. They thrive by ignorance.

@LauraVogel They put forth their views in a way that make you feel dumb for disagreeing. "I'm right, you're stupid."

@supermattachine They insist they know you better than you know yourself.

@AliceSinAerie: they use you to make themselves look/feel more important

@AliceSinAerie: they intentionally embarrass you in front of others

@heavenscalyx They hurt you (physically, emotionally) then claim it was a "joke". Or maybe that's #howtospotanabuser

@BigDaddyKeltik: they'll test you, see how you respond, if you show weakness, you become a target. They'll test with little attacks, comments, questions, and it'll build from there. Whatever your weakness is, thats what they exploit

@danielsiders: references NY Times article "Why Cyberbullying Rhetoric Misses the Mark"

@MSvairini: They act like they have nothing at all in common with you.  Not even humanity.

@NJrugger45 almost nothing stops them. Not ignoring it, not talking back, not crying. Usually takes someone to intervene

So, wow, right? These seem pretty spot on to me. If you have any to add, please do so in the comments section below.

Wishing you safe bully-spotting.


Auntie Kate





  1. * They are obsessed with other people’s lives as a distraction from the horrible, shrieking nothingness of their own.
    * They were probably bullied themselves but subscribe to the “shit rolls downhill” theory instead of the “it ends with me” principle.
    * They have no real friends, only those who curry favor.
    * They are cowards at heart, so they’ll never get out of the car to bash you unless they have five “friends” for backup.

  2. Bullies control space, movement, communication and physicality without consent.
    Bullies find aspect in their target they think that person should be ashamed of & they expose it to the world repeatedly.

  3. I’m no expert on bullying in school, but I did write a chapter in my book about bullying in the workplace, and then i made an app on the android store to help people identify workplace bullying.
    If you’d like to see it, it’s here: (at the bottom of the page)

  4. Would love to read Hello Cruel World but am blind and keen to know if it’s available as a .doc or .pdf?

  5. This page (a profile of the average abuser) is a useful read.
    Some people with these qualities are also present in the queer community, unfortunately.

Comments are closed.