Friday, October 20, 2006
In the meantime, though, a few of her neologisms deserve posts of their own. One of these is the notion of 'victim bullies.' Gunsalus distinguishes between traditional, assertive bullies, who throw their weight around with bluster and force, and 'victim bullies,' who use claims of having been wronged to gain leverage over others.(pp. 123-4) Unlike simple passive-aggression, victim bullies use accusations as weapons, and ramp up the accusations over time. Unlike a normal person, who would slink away in shame as the initial accusations are discredited, a victim bully lacks either guilt or shame, honestly believing that s/he has been so egregiously wronged in some cosmic way that anything s/he does or says is justified in the larger scheme of things. So when the initial accusations are dismissed, the victim bully's first move is a sort of double-or-nothing, raising the absurdity and the stakes even more.
Gunsalus also notes, correctly, that in academic settings, bullies have a way of escaping supervision. Between the protections of tenure and the personality types who self-select to be in academe, department chairs and deans often deal with bullies by either mollifying them or isolating them. Either way, the bully is, essentially, rewarded.
Victim bullies thrive in the no-man's-land created by the deadly combination of slow and cumbersome processes, and failure of managerial nerve. Because defeating a victim bully takes tremendous endurance, most people don't try. Victim bullies know this, and are able to intimidate others into leaving them alone to do pretty much as they please.
I've had some experience with these, and I can say without reservation that they are, by far, my least favorite people to manage. It's not just that they're unpleasant and batshit crazy; they're self-righteously unpleasant and batshit crazy. They're implausibly persistent.
They test your patience, and seem to enjoy it. They read every bylaw, every handbook, and every contract front-to-back, but all one-sidedly. They LOVE hearsay. And anything at all that happens, no matter how far afield, is really about them. Their narcissism is so fully developed that sane people find them unpredictable; their logic is so convoluted as to be inscrutable.
Sadly, some of them have tenure.
Gunsalus makes the obviously correct point that the key to defeating these folks is the classic administrative pincer movement of process-and-time. Easier said than done, but still right.
I just can't tell you how heartening it was to see such a frustrating part of my life described so correctly. It's not just me. There's hope. This book gives me hope. I can't give much higher praise than that.
I always knew I loved you, Dean Dad, but this explanation makes you close to god-like in my mind.
Victim bullies---love that phrase--are masters of political jujitsu. They win not because they're strong, but because they play the weakness card to the hilt. That strategy will work even for an undergraduate, so you'd actually get positive selection for victim bullies in academia.
Oh, and I apologize for the typo in my first comment. That should read "entire departments", obviously!
Yes, I've seen this, in several academic settings over the past 15 years.
I big tip-off is student evaluations. Victim-bullies, at least the one's I've seen, also take it in the teeth on student evals, because of course, victim bullies claim that all students are idiots, immature, too coddled, etc. etc.
Anyone who tries to talk you into either proposition is not your friend
An interesting article in a similar vain: "Coveting the Holocaust" is at truthdig.com. It was written by Chris Hedges, former NY times Mid East bureau chief and author of "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning".
As you can immagine it is very loaded and has some serious flaws which are addressed in some of the comments. It is well worth a read as are a good number of the comments
Thank you for this. i lost a case in court against a bully. the cops don't care and the system is there to protect the criminal. she and her family and friends got off. i have no care any ,ore. the cops did nothing. they want it solved but won't help. they canm all go !@#!$&%$#(
im already a college student and im being bullied by the president of our class.. no one, except my friends and a few other people he bullied, objects to this behavior, even the teachers like him because he is funny, but sometimes he says hurtful words especially to me.. i dont know what i should do, the other thing that worriels me is that he is my groupmate in one of my subjects. what should i do?
I actually have 3 victim billies on my tail; they collaborate with each other. I am trying my best to stay academically on top of things as a double-major while having ADD and an LD, so I am the least social member in my sorority. I love them all, except for one who's a victim bully of mine. I guess she thought that she could relieve some stress against the most "awkward" in her social group. Thank God I speak with my sorority's Standards at the first sign of bullying, because many of the officers so sympathize with me even though they are confused with the whole situation. It's still causing me a lot of stress and requiring of me PLENTY of patience, but the effort is worth it! I'm still having difficulty building healthy relationships within the group and around campus, though my profs and my meager handful of friends are supportive.
Some techniques that just might help fight against victim bullies for anybody curious:
As soon as the bullying starts, go directly to anybody with a position of power (or higher power). Don't "tattle tale", but explain the whole story while conveying genuine hopes to simply have things calmed down and over with. If anybody asks you your idea what should be done about it, NEVER say it, no matter how tempting. It may backfire. Simply say that you "just want everything to be okay" or the like, since that IS what you really want. Warning: revenge only makes YOU the victim bully (or at least seem like it), so no bad-mouthing, no matter how horrible the bully is!
It's so incredibly hard. Victim bullies are the absolute worst! It's even affecting my relationships in other campus organizations and with many acquaintances, but I'm pulling through and leaving my hope with karma.