We typically think that bullies are primarily acquaintances from school or the workplace, or complete strangers who get off on bullying others. We are less likely to think that our loved ones could be bullies, but bullying behavior can also occur in close relationships. How can you tell if your spouse has crossed that line and has become the bully in your life?
- Name-Calling. A common bullying behavior is name-calling.
- When you try to stand up to your spouse’s (or significant other’s) verbal (or physical) attacks, the bully taunts you, both as a put-down and as a means of controlling you.
- Verbal and Physical Aggression. Besides name-calling a bully can go off on verbal tirades, and may get physically (or sexually) aggressive.
- Controlling Behavior. Over-controlling and not allowing a spouse to have any freedom or autonomy is a sign of bullying.
- Put-downs in Front of Others. Belittling a spouse or significant others to others publicly is another bullying behavior.
What to do? First and foremost, it is important to get some help. Seek counseling to have a support system. Standing up to the bully can be risky and may lead to increased bullying behavior, but it is an important step.
If you have overcome spousal bullying, tell us your story and encourage others.
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