There is a type of bully that pretends to be the victim if you argue with them. You may or may not have encountered a situation like this: someone insults you or makes a rude comment. You protest, but this leads to further argument because the other person is deliberately needling you. Suddenly, because you are angry, you are at fault! The person who was attacking you claims that you are now attacking them and you are the one who is being a bully! They will make you apologize to them, and you won’t really want to but you’ll have to because you’re supposed apologize when you’ve offended someone!
If you somehow get them to apologize for whatever they did, this magically means that whatever they did, didn’t actually happen. If you get them to apologize, they will twist that apology around so that actually, you are the one at fault. They will feel free to do the exact same thing that caused the argument, but now you can’t even argue with them because you forgave them for the same thing last time. This will happen over and over again until you find a way to avoid that person, which will not be easy because this type of bully is a drama addict and they will continue attacking and manipulating you for as long as they can make the drama last.
Now, this type of bullying can sometimes involve a group of people, who are focused on one individual. I was bullied a great deal while I was going to school, mostly because I was a very strange child who was in the Special Education program. (The so-called normal kids would generally verbally attack the Special Ed kids, usually by calling them “retards” and other highly imaginative insults. There was also something of a hierarchy among the Special Ed kids.) Most of the bullying I encountered took this form, though I also seemed to attract the kind of bully who decides to attack you because there is some small habit of yours that causes them to want to punch you in the face.
I should also point out that adults also engage in this kind of bullying behavior! Interestingly, the tactics and methodology do not change very much between the kid version and the adult version. (In fact, the adult version generally leaves the target feeling as if they were back in grade school, entertaining fantasies of feeding little Tammy their lunchbox.) I had this happen to me while I was going to college for the first time. This usually took place during “group discussions,” where I would be asked a lot of questions when I clearly didn’t want to, and then be accused of wanting to be the center of attention.
Since this kind of bully kind of depends on the social contract of being “nice” and “polite” in order to manipulate you the only thing you can really do is be…impolite. That is, explain what the bully did that was annoying you. Do not apologize when they play victim or otherwise blame you for their actions. If they apologize, and it is an insincere false apology that continues to blame you for their actions, don’t accept the apology. (This sometimes causes them to become agitated, because the social contract is to accept the apology.) You do not actually have to explain why you’re not accepting the apology. If they try to pressure you, or create drama and blame you for it, refuse to take them seriously.
Bonus! Top 5 Reasons for Bullying Rena!
1. Inappropriate eye contact
2. Blinking too much
3. Being defensive and weird
4. Accidentally throwing a pencil
5. Bifocals (I was not actually wearing bifocal glasses at the time. This did not stop T from calling me this.)
[Grain of Salt Disclaimer: I am not a counselor or mental health specialist. If you are experiencing this kind of manipulative behavior, or think you might do this kind of manipulative behavior to others, and are seeing a mental health specialist, ask them for coping strategies.]