Adult Bullying-Mean Girls (and Guys) Grown Up

The adult board members of a youth sports club are gathering for a meeting.  A small group has done the majority of the work necessary for an upcoming event.  The remaining members sit together and discuss their night out after the last meeting.  The “workers” discuss changes to procedure and materials that will make things flow smoother in the future.  The others immediately vote down any changes.  Things will remain how they like them.  It’s not important that they are not doing the work.

A group of parents gather to do some work for an elementary school.  Instead of the work being completed quickly and completely, great time is spent gossiping about students and parents of the school.  Intimate details of families’ struggles are shared and discussed with no regard to sensitivity or factual content.

What do these two scenarios have in common?  Both feature adult bullies.  It’s kind of like what many experience in adolescence, only worse.  These people should have the cognitive sense to know what they are doing is hurtful and wrong.  

Often times when bullies (or youth who have been bullied) grow up, they turn into adult bullies.  Groups or clubs are seen as a place for them to assert their power.  They may seek leadership positions or join in with other “cliques” within the group that seem dominant.  

Remember, bullies are looking for power or domination over other people.  The best revenge is to not let them have that over you.

Remember, bullies are looking for power or domination over other people. The best revenge is to not let them have that over you.

The first example above is a perfect example of a group of people exerting their authority over the rest of the club.  Even though it is the smaller faction of members that is doing the bulk of the work, the bully group is not interested in making any changes, especially not changes that will lighten the load on the workers.

How do bullies hang on to power like that?  Maybe not everyone agrees with what is going on, but some people will go along with it to protect themselves from maltreatment in the future.  Think of the popular cliques in high school, people follow like lemmings to avoid rocking the boat.  

Maybe it’s our nature.  Maybe it’s the environment.

One doesn’t have to look hard to find “reality” TV programs.  These shows use supposed every-day-Joes to entertain the public while the executives get rich.  Without naming names, think of a show that features someone about to get married.  The more repulsive her behavior, the more some will want to watch.  Oh my God, she did what?!  That commercial was crazy!  I have to see that episode.  

Probably the worst offenders are the shows that claim to be real people.  For my own Pollyanna purposes I hope nothing could be further from the truth.  These women plot, gossip, and sabotage each other every episode.  They are catty, spoiled rotten egomaniacs.  I use the show as an example to my daughters how NOT to act.  

The unfortunate fact of adult (social) bullying is that there is little one can do about it.  There is no teacher or school counselor to tell.  So unless someone is crossing a legal line into the area of harassment, your choices are to avoid them or try to talk to them.  

Remember, bullies are looking for power or domination over other people.  The best revenge is to not let them have that over you.  You’ll be much happier; and that is the best revenge.

Author: Roxanne Wilmes


Roxanne is a freelance writer, author, ghostwriter, and avid boxing fan. She first met Chuck Horton when she ran his wife’s campaign for MN House of Representatives. Past experiences have led her to be a strong advocate for anti-bullying and substance abuse issues. You can reach her at or @rocketwilmes on Twitter.