February 20, 2012

The "Justified" Bully

Today I'd like to talk about a specific type of bully commonly seen on mom-related sites. We'll call her the "Justified" Bully. Because in her mind, she is. She has a mentality and approach many find off putting at best. And spends an inordinate amount of time engaging in cyber bullying behavior.

The Justified Bully is fighting for a cause. She is passionate about her beliefs, and will use any means possible to convert others to her way of thinking. She is not concerned with other's feelings or how she comes across. If she can convince one person she is right, she considers that a victory, regardless of how many she may offend or hurt in the process.

The Justified Bully is primarily motivated by fervor, though there may be other factors. She is the most common type of bully I encounter in my work with The Mom Pledge. This individual does not engage in calm, rational, civil discourse. She argues and attacks. Her modus operandi is to push buttons and piss people off in an attempt to bait them into a fight. Publicly if possible.

If challenged, the Justified Bully typically becomes defensive. She may claim to be a victim. And she truly believes she is one. It's possible she was originally a victim, and turned to bullying behavior as a defense mechanism. (I have written about this scenario in the past.) If that is the case, she is twice as justified in her mind.

The Justified Bully seems unable and unwilling to recognize how her behavior contributes to the problem. In her mind, there is no problem. She is right, anyone who disagrees with her and refuses to accept her point of view is wrong. It is a black and white issue.

A Justified Bully often becomes obsessed with an individual or group who believes or represents a belief she does not agree with. She will relentlessly harass that person or group online, usually recruiting others to join in. In addition to bullying the target together, her group will spend much of its time talking about the person or other group amongst themselves.

Her words are emotional, her manner confrontational. She is often characterized by others as angry and self-righteous. As much as she tries to shut down the voice of her "opposition," anyone who shuts her down is violating her rights, which she will loudly protest.

The behavior of the Justified Bully bothers many of us. We can't stand it. Moreover, we want to DO SOMETHING to stop it. I am asked regularly what The Mom Pledge Community can do to end this behavior. And my answer isn't a very likable one.

You cannot change a Justified Bully's behavior. You can only control your own. This can be difficult to accept. The Justified Bully's behavior is so hateful and hurtful, you want to do something to about it. Accept that you can't, and focus on how best to respond.

That being said, if you are the target of a Justified Bully, the behavior could cross the line into potentially criminal behavior. If that is the case, be sure to follow these tips from the US Department of Justice. And familiarize yourself with your legal options. CiviliNation is an excellent resource.

The Mom Pledge calls for rising above cyber bullying behavior, refusing to engage bullies and ignoring their attacks. Those tactics have been proven to work in many common bullying scenarios and are recommended by most experts. However, there are exceptions to every rule. And sometimes more must be done to protect yourself.

In an effort to better understand the psychology behind women who bully, I will be interviewing Dr. Erika Holiday, psychologist and co-author of Mean Girls, Meaner Women later this week. I'm really interested to hear her insight on this topic, and will be sharing with you soon!

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