What is bullying?

Bullying can be defined as repeated and unwanted behaviour with intent to hurt another person, physically or emotionally. It can take many forms, including verbal threats, physical assault, calling names, gossiping and cyberbullying.

The legal definition of bullying which specifically relates to someone’s age, sex, disability, gender identity, race, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity or marriage, is harassment. This is against the law - find information on how to report this bullying and protect yourself from further harassment.

Counselling for bullying

Whether you are currently being bullied, have been bullied in the past or are affected by it in another way, many people find counselling helpful. A therapist can help you explore what is happening and your options and responses, in private and without judgement.

Bullying may have affected you at an earlier time in your life, but it may have been a factor in developing other issues such as anxiety, depression or low self-esteem.

Types of bullying

Verbal bullying - This includes calling someone unpleasant names, verbally attacking their appearance or threatening them with physical violence. 

Physical bullying - Physically hurting someone by purposely hitting, kicking, punching, scratching to cause pain. 

Indirect bullying - Ignoring someone, leaving them out of plans, gossiping or spreading rumours behind their backs or visually attacking them e.g. threatening looks.

Cyberbullying - Including sexting (unwanted texts of a sexual nature), hacking social media accounts, instant messages, text messages, emails and posts that belittle, hurt or abuse you. Social networking can bring people together, but it can enable bullies to target their victims' homes or places of work.

While this type of bullying is more often used by those of a school age, bullying online isn’t something that affects only young people and children. For adults, it can exist in the workplace and on personal and professional social media accounts (otherwise known as trolling).

"Experiencing sustained bullying has a serious effect on the mental well-being of its victims. Individuals can become depressed, withdrawn, angry, anxious, or experience insomnia; it can even lead to suicidal thoughts. The first step on the road to recovery is not to suffer in silence, as anonymity is a bully’s greatest defence.

Recovering from the emotional damage bullying causes can take time. Victims may carry a sense of shame, anger or anxiety. Counselling and talking therapies can offer a safe, non-judgemental environment to talk through feelings, process what has happened and start to heal the psychological scars left behind."