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Fact Sheet

What to do if you are being bullied

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There are many things you can do if you’re being bullied. Different strategies can work in different situations. You can try and work it out by yourself. But if the bullying doesn’t stop, you might find it helpful to ask someone else for advice. Don’t be afraid to let someone know that you are being bullied—other people can be a great help. If you are being bullied at school, find a trusted teacher (or past teacher), school psychologist, guidance counselor, or administrator with whom you can speak.  If you are being bullied at work, seek out a supervisor or a human resources manager.

Working it out yourself

Depending on how bad the bullying is (and as long as you aren’t feeling unsafe, frightened or physically threatened), you might decide to try and work it out by yourself first. Try and remember that no matter how hard you try, the bully might not be willing to change his or her behavior. At this point, talking to someone else can be really helpful.

The following tips might be particularly helpful if you’re dealing with verbal bullying on your own.

When possible, ignore the bully. Ignoring can be helpful, particularly for one-time cases. Bullies are looking for a reaction from you and often lose interest if they aren’t given the satisfaction of making you upset.

Suggestions for ignoring the bully:

  • Walk away when the bully approaches you. Try and imagine that you’re walking away from a friend. This can be a way of making sure your body language (which you’re usually unaware of) doesn’t give away a sense of fear;
  • Concentrate on something else. Try thinking about what you’ll do next weekend, counting to 100, or planning your homework;
  • Have a saying or a statement that you can repeat in your head when the bully approaches you to block out a sense of fear.

Build a wall around you. It might be helpful to build an invisible wall around you by visualizing it in your mind. Any verbal abuse then just bounces off the wall.

Use visualization. Bullies can be pretty scary. Picturing that person looking silly might help to make them less problematic for you. For example, picture the bully’s head shrinking, or picture the bully in his or her underwear.

Stay positive. It can be hard to remember all your good points when someone is doing their best to be negative. Try to think of all the things you do well, and remember that you are a valuable person. Thinking of how bad the bully must be feeling can also help you stay positive.

Surround yourself with people who care about you. Surrounding yourself with positive people who know and like you for YOU can boost your confidence.  This will help you let bullying comments more easily roll off your back. It’s important that you connect with people who genuinely care for you and recognize all of your great qualities.

Hang around other people. You might be safer if you stay in groups. If you are alone, try to identify people who can offer you safety.

Be confident. Bullies usually pick on people that they think are weaker than they are, so it might help if you stand up to them.

Suggestions on how to stand up to a bully:

  • Telling him or her to leave you alone may get a bully off your back;
  • Ever heard of the phrase “kill them with kindness”? Being nice to a bully may throw him or her off;
  • Using humor can also throw a bully off track;
  • Use positive self-talk. Try saying to yourself something like I know I am better than that. I’m not like that. I don’t have to pick on other people to know that I am good;
  • Remember that your friends accept you for who you are.

Keep out of a bully’s way. It might be possible for you to avoid the bully. This can mean getting to school in a different way, or avoiding the places that you know he or she hangs out. By avoiding a bully, you’re not giving in, but looking after yourself and making sure you are happier and more comfortable.

Asking someone for help

To stop bullying—whether verbal, written or cyberbullying — it can be helpful to tell someone that you are being bullied. This can seem scary at first, but telling someone can lighten your load and help you to work out how to solve the problem. Talking to someone is particularly important if you feel unsafe or frightened, or if you don’t have many friends. Asking for help or talking to someone about your situation is not being weak or “giving in.” In fact, telling someone can take a lot of strength and courage.

There are many people who might be able to help, including friends, older brothers and sisters, teachers, family, counselors or parents. Teachers and counselors are specially trained to help you. In the workplace, you could also talk to a human resource manager or union representative.

Identify strategies that work for YOU. There are a number of ways to cope with the sadness, anger, fear, and isolation that can accompany bullying.  This can be something as simple as counting to ten or thinking of your favorite, happy memory.  It’s important that you identify coping strategies that work for you: think about what makes you happy or calms you and try to incorporate those things into your life.  In the moment, use strategies that help you act appropriately and feel better.  It can be a mantra you repeat to yourself or taking calming breaths. In the long term, there are a number of ways we can help ourselves cope with the feelings bullying creates:  exercise, watching funny movies, talking to friends, playing with the family pet…  Find something that works for you and if it helps, even make a list of those things so you can remember all of the activities you’ve found helpful. 

Some tips for getting help

  • It might be easier if you talk to someone you know well and trust. This person can give you much needed support and might have suggestions for dealing with the situation that you might not have considered.
  • Share your struggle or read others' in the ReachOut community, here 24/7. Register here to post.
  • If you decide to talk to a teacher or counselor, you might feel more comfortable taking a friend with you. If you feel you might get too nervous to speak, write down what you’d like to say on paper or in an e-mail. Don’t feel ashamed about coming forward- teachers and counselors are there to help.
  • If you think that the person you’re speaking with doesn’t believe you, or isn’t taking you seriously, or if that person doesn’t help you take action, it doesn’t mean that your feelings aren’t valid or that the bullying should continue. It’s important you tell someone else and continue to do so until you get the help you need.
  • Being bullied can be upsetting and stressful, and it can affect your life in many different ways, including your self-esteem, relationships, work and education. If you are feeling particularly overwhelmed, it is important that you seek help from a mental health professional such as a social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist.  There is no shame in asking for help.
  • Remember, if you are in any danger of hurting yourself or someone else, it is vital that you ask for help immediately.

Your rights

Remember that everyone has the right to live, work, study and play in an environment free from bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence. No one deserves or asks to be bullied.

For more information:

If you suspect your friend is being bullied, you might find the fact sheet called What to do if your friend is being bullied.

National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center

Kids Health Dealing with Bullies

Last reviewed: Mar 11, 2013

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Comments

Responses

  • avatar2

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    cupcakeluvah

    hi , people I know and use to like me r now being horrible to me calling me fat and a few other things and it really hurts I trusted them and now they hate me for no reason I have blocked them on social media and their number but they always find a way to talk to me they don’t go to my school they use to go to my church and now they hate me for no reason

    • avatar1

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      ReachOut

      We’re so sorry that you’re having this rough time right now.  It’s hard when your peers treat you in a cruel way.  We encourage you to talk to someone about it, a parent, teacher, friend, or trusted adult. Talking can really help you get some perspective, and remind you that you’re not alone.

      • avatar2

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        cupcakeluvah

        but they just wont leave me alone I feel like an out cast everytime I leave the house

  • avatar2

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    lonelygirl15

    i’m 15(f) and i get bullied picked on and beat up at school almost everyday it sucks because i don’t have that many friends to stand up for me and if i try to stand up for myself it just gets them even more mad at me and want to pick on me even more and its hard for me to reach out to people and talk to them face to face and that is why i joined this website because i know that someone will see this and understand what i am going through and hopefully help me get through the tough times thank you for reading this and just taking the time to realize that you are not alone and that bullying can happen to anyone at any age any place and any time thank you for your time

    • avatar1

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      ReachOut

      Hey there lonelygirl15. We’re really sorry you’re having a rough time with bullying. We do encourage you to talk to someone that you trust and can help you. If you feel like you can’t talk to someone in person, how about calling the helpline Your Life Your Voice a call at 1-800-448-3000, run by Boys Town (for everyone). That number is free to call, confidential, and not just for boys! There are trained counsellors there available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! Give it a try!

  • avatar2

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    LacrosseMan

    Hi I am 14(M) and i have been being threatened and bullied for the past month. Three boys repeatedly tell me they are going to kick my a** if they here me “talking sh*t” which I am not but they continuously think I am and they have me very scared I only have 1 good friend who stands with me but I get scared if he’ll really be there for me. I don’t have many friends but the antagonists do. I am very scared and nervous but I do not want to bring it to a principal or teacher because I fear people thinking of me as a “snitch” I have talked to my mother about it but I have told her to keep it secret people say he is all talk that I have asked and I feel like he is but I cant help but be scared. I do MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) but I still don’t feel confident to the point where I am not scared. Please Help.

    • avatar2

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      palm_tree

      I am very sorry to hear about the situation that you are in right now :( it sucks when people falsely accuse you of talking about them when you know you didn’t (i would know).  For me to get out of the situation i tried to confront them and tell the bully that i wasn’t saying anything bad about them and sorry if they thought that (you should try this although it didn’t work for me).  Then i talked to one of the bully’s friends who wasn’t bullying me and told them about how i felt bad that this person thought i was being rude to them (even though it wasn’t true the friend told the bully that i was sorry and our conflict was resolved). You can also try to just straight up ignore the bullies. Most importantly, remember to stay confident and never stoop to the level of the person attacking you.

      • avatar1

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        ReachOut

        This is great advice!

    • avatar1

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      ReachOut

      Hi LacrossMan. That sounds like a really difficult and scary situation. We encourage you to try some of the tips in the Fact Sheet above like trying to keep away from the boys or standing up to them. More importantly, we think you should tell someone who can help you. Nobody wants to be called a snitch, but your safety is the most important thing here. Consider talking to a teacher or your school principle. Hang in there and best of luck!

  • avatar2

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    kaykaybruce

    hi i am in high school and i am very shy and cant speak up there are 3 girls that think there all that and they are popular and they spread rumor about me because i am as ma and they laugh at me what should i do reach out last time when we were going to lunch i was walking when they threaten me they said tell your mom or any body we will kill you and i feel threaten i feel like i dont belong i have face book and instragram they post things about me like look at bitch girl or horrible things now they are cyber bullying me and i feel alone this been happen since the 3 day of school i feel like kill myself should i help

    • avatar1

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      ReachOut

      It really sounds like it’s time to talk to someone about what is going on.  Have you talked to a school counselor, a teacher, a parent, another friend, or someone else that you trust? 

      A great way to get help is to just call the Boys Town Hotline at 1-800-448-3000.  The hotline is available 24/7, and staffed by trained professionals who can give you some great ideas and resources.  We suggest that you call them as soon as possible, because it seems like this situation is quickly getting out of control, and we want you to be safe.

  • avatar2

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    Dida

    I’m in middle school. It’s a tiny school with only 1 class and in it there are 7 girls. I’m new this year. At the beginning of she year they ( 3 of the 7 girls ) started fake throwing things at me and they laugh when I flinch. It was ok then , I laughed to but now they throw real things at me and hurt me badly.
    The other 4 girls are the 3 mean girl’s BFFs. The 3 girls tell me I’m ugly,bitchy and lots of other things. Now they’ve started online. All I want is a friend. Just 1. But the only girls are mean and I spend most of my time crying in the toilets. The boys have started a bit calling me ugly.
    I have 1 friend but she’s only nice to me when the mean girls aren’t around because when they are she’s really mean. I don’t know what to do. . .
    Please please please help me.
    x Dida

    • avatar1

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      ReachOut

      We’re so sorry that you’re in this rough situation!  Have you tried talking to a school counselor or teacher?  It’s important that they know, so they can help keep you safe while you’re at school.  You shouldn’t have to go through this.  Remember that it’s not your fault.

      We care about you!
      —The ReachOut Crew

  • avatar2

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    Singingismylife

    Im in middle school.I’m being bullied by 3 girls and I just can’t. One time I was crying because of that in the bathroom alone. They tell me I’m ugly,stupid,useless. Once they said My hair was fake and I said then pull it and they pulled it all the way to the floor. My head was hurting all day.What do I do

    • avatar1

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      ReachOut

      Hi Singingismylife. We’re sorry to hear you’re having a rough time with these girls at school. We encourage you to try to keep some distance from them and to talk to someone who can help you - your parents, a teacher, or other trusted adult. What they are doing is not okay and not your fault. At the forums currently, we have an expert on bullying. Why don’t you come by and check it out at http://us.reachout.com/forums/showthread.php?46485-Problems-with-Bullying-Ask-Dr-Christine

  • avatar2

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    Kryell

    ReachOut crew, so I am 14 years old (turning 15 on Oct) and I am somewhat being bullied […] ReachOut, what should i do? i told my parents about this whole text, they said to just ignore them but […] I am reaching the limit on ignoring them.I know in the future i will snap out again and [...] Sorry for this long Comment but i need help. And i hate it when people say “TELL SOMEONE/A ADULT” because telling off a kid younger than u shows weakness and i dont want that to happen. […] so should i do it again which means more friends and the bullies will stop? or is there another way?
    Thank you for your time smile

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