Does bullying still even exist when you’re an adult?

If you thought bullying only happened at school, then think again…

You will be surprised to know that 40-50% of people say they have been bullied during their working life.

Image taken from

Image taken from

Shocking isn’t it?

Especially as the number of victims to this abuse is increasing. It is worrying that these issues are not properly dealt with and subsequently just brushed under the carpet.

Bullying doesn’t have to be just physical; if it is happening in your workplace then speak out. It could be that someone is constantly criticising your work, belittling you, making you feel inadequate, embarrassed or shameful.

Although, the outcomes of bullying are continuously publicised, the act of abuse is almost seen as trivial. Here is an example of one of the many tragic bullying cases.

Image taken from

Image taken from

David Orr a 21 year old began working full time at BT after successfully completing an apprenticeship with the company. After several bullying incidents from the management team and failed actions taken regarding his concerns, sadly, he committed suicide.

Before his death during October 2011 David had stated that he was being bullied by management. However, his worries were ignored. With his mother Michele Millar finally speaking out, she has said BT Openreach continually failed to respond to his concerns.

“It doesn’t matter whether it is in BT or any other workplace, I don’t want any other boy and their family to go through this. I would say to anyone who is being bullied, speak out – tell people about it until somebody listens and somebody does something about it.”

Michele Milliar

With these tragedies heightening, it is important that victims know how to address the issue. If you are being bullied or know someone who is follow encourage them to follow this five point plan.

  1. Acknowledge the problem.
  2. Inform yourself.
  3. Confront constructively.
  4. Keep a diary.
  5. Seek help.

It is important to not forget that a bully is normally jealous or threatened of skills and attributes, they are the ones that are insecure, therefore determined to undermine others. Actions may seem subtle, and it may lead to believing you are just overreacting.

Remember: When conflict arises at work, it should be healthy and creative.

A question for you, have you or someone you know ever experienced bullying as an adult? If so, how did you personally deal with it? Did you speak out, and was action taken?


  1. Pingback: Hello again… | This is Fuerza
  2. jesusisking64 · February 24, 2013

    Reblogged this on makingsenceofitall and commented:
    This is a great article and something you dont think much on.In the workplace…you bet.

    • thsisfuerza · February 26, 2013

      Thank you jesusisking64 for the reblog! I appreciate it. Have you ever witnessed bullying within the workplace?

      • jesusisking64 · February 27, 2013

        I sure have.

      • thsisfuerza · February 28, 2013

        I’m interested in knowing how the matter was dealt with?

  3. quietbirdsandbeasts · February 24, 2013

    You are right, bullying happens in all stages of our lives. It may be less of a topic since as adults we are supposed to be able to “let it roll off our back” but I’ve encountered bullying in the workplace as well as in other areas of my adult life.
    It is a difficult topic and should be discussed more often. Thank you for this post. Great info!

    • thsisfuerza · February 24, 2013

      Thank you for your comment quietbirdsandbeasts.

      Exactly, I think when you are an adult it almost makes you feel more embarrassed about it, therefore, I can understand why it must be truly difficult to speak out. Being in a working environment definitely adds pressure, the fact that it is a job and a source of income that people just can’t ignore, especially if they have a family.

      Glad this post stood out to you 🙂

  4. Pingback: Does bullying still even exist when you’re an adult? | Eternal Optimist
  5. faithskittles · February 25, 2013

    This is such a great post. You are completely right! My mom was bullied by a co-worker, it took forever but they finally did something, however, the guy wouldn’t stop so he got fired. Please everyone, don’t let this be ignored any longer! People are deeply effected by actions, even if they may seem small.

    • thsisfuerza · February 25, 2013

      Thanks for your comment faithskittles. Good news to hear that he was eventually fired! It is commendable that your mother spoke up about it. I think it is truly difficult to speak out when you are an adult, as you don’t want to feel you are overreacting about an issue. It is a job, a source of income and there is increased pressure on how to deal with it. It is important to alert people on this matter, as it definitely is an issue that isn’t spoken about enough. And rightly as you said, people are deeply effected by actions, even if they may seem small.

      • faithskittles · February 26, 2013

        It is a huge issue to be recognized. So I hope that all of you fallow my blog because this is what I’m here to stop. Bullying and depression need to be focused on. So I hope you are having a good day. Please don’t forget to SmileKid!

  6. Guisou · February 26, 2013

    It’s unfortunate that bullying happens in the workplace; especially when the workplace is also a learning environment.
    Where does this happen?
    In medical schools and teaching hospitals across the US (and also in some medical schools abroad). There was a great piece about this last year in the NYTimes Well blog:… Quoting from the post: “more than half of all medical students [responding to a survey at the end of their 3rd year asking how they felt they had been treated over the course of the year] still said that they had been intimidated or physically or verbally harassed. Students described being yelled at, pushed and threatened. One student recounted being slapped on the hand by a more senior doctor who said, ‘If teaching doesn’t help you learn, then pain will.’ ”
    True, it’s hard to imagine something more serious than being responsible for a patient’s life–but do fear and intimidation do ANYTHING to create a conducive learning environment?… I would find it hard to believe. Read the post to find out what the UCLA School of Medicine decided to do about the culture of bullying students. It’s a start– but it won’t be enough to change the social norm until all medical schools and teaching hospitals (and workplaces in general) adopt anti-bullying policies.
    Thanks for doing a post on bullying in the workplace and for getting people involved in the conversation!

    • thsisfuerza · February 26, 2013

      Hi Guisou,

      Thank you for posting that link! It was an interesting read, it is just another clear example of this issue. It really is shocking to read what those students experienced.

      ‘being told they are “worthless” or “the stupidest medical student,” to being threatened with bad grades or a ruined career and even getting hit, pushed or made the target of a thrown medical tool.’ – these quotes truly are disturbing. However, I do believe those feelings are easy to relate with, even if it is not physical, constantly being told you are worthless or not doing your job properly can not only lower your self esteem but evolve into serious personal issues in the future.

      I completely agree, the working environment need to stop neglecting this form of abuse, as at the moment it is just being brushed under the carpet, with the stereotype that bullying only occurs at school. Therefore, It is vital that they adopt anti-bullying policies, to create an ethical working environment.

      Thank you very much for your views on this topic, I am glad to have fueled such a effective discussion! I do have a question to ask…have you personally experienced or witnessed bullying within the workplace?

  7. Anonymous · February 26, 2013

    Good point and nice to have the issue of adult bulllying brought forward. Working on the end to erradicate bullying in schools. Children who bully do so as adults also,the problem does not go away once you turn 18 and become a legal adult. It gives way to more social ills that we have to live with. Perhaps since there is a movement to reach children we can prevent adult abuse and harrassment in our workplaces and in general. Thank you for sharing.

    • thsisfuerza · February 27, 2013

      Glad you thought the post was informative. I think it is extremely important to raise awareness of this conflict that leads to serious personal issues. You are very true about children who bully do so as adults. The problem does not go away, and when you are an adult working for an income, it just adds even further pressure to speak out, as you are unaware of the consequences.

      Have you ever witnessed someone at work being bullied? And what is your opinion on the previous comment – adopting anti-bullying policies, to create an ethical working environment? Do you think it could work?


  8. Ruthy Toothy · March 10, 2013

    I was bullied horribly in school from age 6 to 16, and ten years later found myself being bullied again in the workplace. At 19 I was formally diagnosed with anxiety and depression, although I’m certain that had I seen a doctor about this I could have received a similar diagnosis from about age 13 onwards. So for me, what didn’t kill me certainly didn’t make me stronger!

    After 4 years of surviving being bullied daily at work I finally took my Consultant Psychiatrist’s advice and left my job despite having no job lined up to move to. It felt, and still does feel, like the bully won. But I’ve come to realise exactly that it takes a whole community to have bullying continue. I had brought the problem to management many times, and they basically admitted that they knew they had a problem, but were unable to do anything about it. After one particularly frustrating meeting about what was happening, management moved the bully from the open-plan office space into a private office of her own. This was supposed to prevent further bullying as we wouldn’t be side by side any more, but the bully and her cronies understandably saw it as a kind of reward for her behaviour! Never once was she disciplined or rebuked for what she was doing. Several colleagues had suffered before me, and at least one had stated bullying as their reason for leaving their job. Because the bullying had gone on for so long, with several victims, the entire staff was scared of being next to suffer, and I actually believe that this was even the case with the boss!

    • thisisfuerza · March 10, 2013

      Thank you Ruth for your comment! I really appreciate you sharing your story with me and my readers. Do you believe child bullies turn into adult bullies?

      I can understand that the situation must have been so disheartening for you, being left with the feeling that the bully had won. I think the choice you made was the right one, you did all the correct steps, you stood your ground and after management did not discipline her (which is truly is ridiculous) you left. It definitely does seem that she was rewarded with her own private office…I just do not understand how the situation was so clear within the company, yet it was brushed off like it was nothing.

      After experiencing this, what advice would you give to someone else being bullied at work? Do you think there is a way to stop bullying?

  9. Ruthy Toothy · March 10, 2013

    Forgot to say that I landed here after seeing your comment on the series “it takes a village to make a bully” at

  10. Bronwyn · March 19, 2013

    Thanks for commenting on my blog! I’m glad I’ve found yours. Bullying can be such a huge issue in the adult world. And for some reason we just pretend it doesn’t exist, or ignore it. I know in my experience being bullied, not one thing happened to the perpetrator, though it was obvious she’d had this sort of “personality difference” before… Often I think from a management perspective (if the person bullying isn’t at the top) people don’t know how to work these out.

    • thisisfuerza · March 19, 2013

      Thank you for your insight on the topic! Yes that is very true! The subject of bullying comes across as such a taboo subject. People really don’t know how to deal with it. If you don’t mind me asking, what was the situation around your bullying experience? Did you seek help, and how did you overcome the situation?

      Thanks again for commenting!

  11. Leah Hollis · March 19, 2013

    ES! I just did study on higher ed…. 62% of participants (adults) stated they had been bullied while working with colleges and universities. The book is Bully in the Ivory… which was a shock for me to research- but confirmed that bullying IS a big problem in professional ranks.

  12. skillsofpersuasion · April 1, 2013

    This is always highly relevant, especially because it is a topic so frequently avoided, swept under the rug. Most people associate bullying with something that happens in an alternate universe to a selected few weak victims with extremely bad luck. But alas, that is not the reality of the situation, is it? Bullying is extremely prevalent, only in “adult life” people call it “other people being rude”. And that may be what bullying essentially is – a show of low self esteem and bad manners combined and multiplied by ten, but there is a lot more to it. For the person enduring bullying, that is constant stress. And something people forget about stress, because they deem it a normal part of adult life, is that stress is one of the main causes for many serious illnesses including cancer.
    It has been proven and pointed out that being bullied causes the victim to have self esteem issues and in frequent cases – post traumatic self disorder.

    I believe an issue most people have with being bullied and speaking up about it is that they believe acknowledging the problem for what it is and seeking help for it, makes them weak and unable to deal. But why should anyone deal with being bullied? There are many better ways to find your point of pride and “I endured so much bullying at work.” absolutely should not be one of them.

Leave a Reply....

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s