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Types of Bullying and Harassment

Updated on August 17, 2014

Types of Bullying are Diverse

Bullying comes in many forms. Many people know the common types such as physical, emotional, or even cyber bullying. However, there are nearly endless ways one person can use power and control to prey on others.

Listing types of bullies is an important way to expose the variety you may come across. Bullies have many novel and creative as well as classic ways to hurt their victims. Bullying is nothing new and has been going on in schools, homes, and workplaces since schools, homes, and workplaces have been around.

The diverse tactics of bullying have expanded as technologies have advanced, but humans have not shown any social advancement through ridding the world of bullying.

Keep in mind that most bullying falls into more than one category. For example, a victim may be cyber-bullied socially and emotionally in the workplace. The combinations of types of bullying are endless. Here is a list of bully types that has been compiled from various sources into a larger and more comprehensive list.

Cyber Bullies are Tricky

Cyber Bullies can use tricky tactics without ever coming in contact with a victim.
Cyber Bullies can use tricky tactics without ever coming in contact with a victim.

Cyber Bullying

  • Flaming: Flaming involves arguing or fighting through digital communications such as instant messages, forums, chat rooms, or social media posts.
  • Impersonation, Masquerading, and Denigration: Cyber bullies can be especially hurtful when they impersonate someone to spread lies to attack victims.
  • Outing: Outing involves spreading personal or embarrassing information digitally, usually by publishing publicly on websites.
  • Cyber Stalking or Harassment: These may involve monitoring a person's internet activities and threatening or badgering through digital means. Usually this is done anonymously, but the victim may or may not know who the real bully is.

Emotional Bullying

  • Rejecting: Rejecting includes leaving a victim out, name calling, or other humiliating actions.
  • Isolating: Isolating bullies prevent the victim from social interactions apart from the bully. This makes it difficult for the victim to get help due to lack of social supports and inability to be exposed to "normal" social interactions.
  • Ignoring: Ignoring bullies use the victim's needs as an opportunity to hurt the victim by refusing to respond or be helpful.
  • Corrupting: Corrupting bullies expose the victim to illegal activities and may even encourage the victim to participate in illegal or immoral activities.
  • Exploiting: Exploiting bullies take advantage of the victim for personal gain. Criticism may be used to get the victim to do unreasonable chores or tasks.
  • Terrorizing: Terrorizing bullies use threats and intimidation to induce fear in the victim. Terrorizing includes making threats of violence or abandonment, exposing the victim to violence, yelling, or embarrassing the victim.

Financial Bullying

Controlling a victim's money is the way a financial bully maintains power and control. This is usually a type of bullying or abuse that occurs between people who share resources such as spouses. The bully may intentionally sabotage the financial stability of the victim by draining bank accounts or maxing out credit cards. A financial bully may make threats of withholding resources such as threatening to not pay for bills or a mortgage.

Legal Bullying

  • Custody Bullying: Custody bullies use a fight for custody to create misery for the other parent.
  • Power of Attorney Bullying: When someone who has power of attorney over another person, he/she is able to sign legal documents that can restrict freedoms, etc.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit Bullying: Making threats of frivolous or unsubstantiated lawsuits is how some bullies push their desires on others.
  • Accusation Bullying: Accusation bullies accuse another person of a crime that the other person didn't commit. This might be an act of retaliation or a way to control the victim through bribery.

Physical Bullying

Physical bullying happens any time a bully physiclaly harms a victim. Examples include: hitting, shoving, pinching, groping, grabbing, spitting, kicking, slapping, and tripping. Physical bullying also includes more classic pranks or hazing such as wedgies, towel snaps, titty twisters and swirlies. Physical bullying can also include intimidating or threatening gestures such as fake punching or showing the victim a weapon.

Serial Bullying

Serial bullying is a common form of bullying where a bully will choose one victim to focus on at one time until the victim is destroyed. Then the serial bully will select a new victim. This progresses and tactics may become more aggressive with each successive victim.

Social Bullying

  • Alienation: Alienation happens when a group of people purposefully shun or ignore a peer. This can be a result of a single bully telling others to not be friends with a victim.
  • Reactive Bullying: Reactive bullies provoke others to hurt them, making it difficult to tell who the bully really is.
  • Sarcastic Bullying: Sarcasm used in front of others is a common bully tactic. For example, "I like your shoes, they're so awesome! Where did you get those, the Dollar Store?"
  • Spreading Rumors: Rumors can be a way for a social bully to damage the reputation of a victim. This can happen through note passing, verbally, or online.
  • Vicarious Bullying: Vicarious bullies encourage others to bully. The bullying is then carried out vicariously. The vicarious bully may be a witness who laughs and adds to bullying in a supportive way.

Spiritual Bullying

Spiritual bullies attack a victim's spiritual beliefs or by attacking the victim's spiritual well-being. Examples include telling the victim that he or she is going to hell, making fun of religious deities or mocking spiritual activities.

Verbal Bullying

Verbal bullying can mean any kind of bullying involving things that are said. Physical bullying is usually accompanied by verbal bullying which may include using: threats, yelling, mocking laughter, hostile joking, demeaning remarks, racist remarks, sexist remarks, or derogatory terms about sexual orientation.

Workplace Bullying

  • Corporate Bullying: Corporate bullies coerce employees to give up personal time for the job for example.
  • Client Bullying: Client bullies bully those who serve them. Bullying a cashier, teacher, or nurse as a customer, student, or patient are examples.
  • Regulation Bullying: Regulation bullies force the compliance of rules on others as a tactic of control. Reporting trivial rule breaking to someone's supervisor is an example.
  • Hierarchical Bullying: Hierarchical bullies use the position of power within the organization to treat those in lower positions poorly.
  • Peer Bullying: Peer bullying happens when an employee on the same level of work position bullies another employee.
  • Upward Bullying: Upward bullying occurs when an employee bullies a manager or supervisor.

References for Types of Bullying, Abuse, and Harassment

"Bullying: what is it? Types of bullying, bullying tactics, how targets are selected, the difference between bullying and harassment."

"Child Abuse Effects: Types of Emotional Abuse."

"Types of Bullying."

"Types of Bullying: The Types of Bullying Often Found in Schools."

"What is Cyber Bullying."


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    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      I really didn't know that there are so many types of bullying. It's all so destructive. Personally, I'd like to turn each one "over my knee" and give them a much needed wallop on the behind! A great hub that I will share.

    • Blake Flannery profile image

      Blake Flannery 4 years ago from United States


      You're right, it is amazing how many different ways humans can be cruel toward each other.

      I don't know that spanking is the solution. I think your arm would get very tired from swinging. There are way too many bullies out there.

    • Ipeoney profile image

      Ipeoney 4 years ago from USA

      The world is getting meaner by the day. People doesn't even realize they are a bully or maybe they do. But some people either not aware or they just don't want to admit. Thanks to this Hub. I couldn't start a Hub about bullying even if I wanted to because I started to cry.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 4 years ago from Michigan

      I at times, think bullying is also comes in a form of powerlessness. They might feel inadequate in their own world so they reach out and in order to feel powerful, bully others. I think that this comes from the availability of the Internet and being afforded anonymity. They can pick on folks and say what they want without repercussion. Some folks can walk away without a thought from the trolls while others feel the need to have the last word.

      I would like to think it was caused by a lack of intelligence but alas, that does not seem to be true.

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Hi Blake, and what an exceptional hub this one is.

      Vocalcoach hit the nail on the head. Very insightful hub about the plight of bullying!

      Voted up


    • Cristale profile image

      Cristale 4 years ago from Florida

      This is interesting with great information. This is becoming an epidemic in our country these days.

    • Blake Flannery profile image

      Blake Flannery 4 years ago from United States


      I also believe that some people don't realize they are bullies. Sometimes bullying is done in "good fun" or considered "teasing." The problem is when the teasing or good fun don't feel good because the relationship is unbalanced with power flowing away from the victim.

    • Blake Flannery profile image

      Blake Flannery 4 years ago from United States


      Bullying is definitely a power play. You are right though, some people are able to deal with bullies better than others. Retaining your own dignity and integrity is the challenge for the victims to bear.

      I believe that being assertive, friendly, and socially connected can help you to avoid being bullied in the first place. Studies have shown that kids who are less socially connected are targeted. My guess is that these kids have a difficult time communicating and connecting with others. Then the bully comes along and reinforces those inadequacies even further.

    • Blake Flannery profile image

      Blake Flannery 4 years ago from United States


      I don't believe bullying is becoming an epidemic. I think it already has been for a long time. What has changed is the ability to spread information in an instant. It's all about awareness, which is the first step toward improving eradicating an epidemic.

    • profile image

      Jane Brooks 4 years ago

      Today the front page of the Cody Enterprise . A student in my sons "resource room" just another name of segregation and isolation. Killed himself. Cody High School Wyoming. My son is sad too because he thought he was going to high school but instead was placed in complete segregation because that is what they do here. To the 2%. Then post straight A grades for teaching him nothing,.

    • profile image

      maggiemay 4 years ago, a reference in this hub, is by far the BEST source for information on bullying. One thing they are adamant about that this author missed, is that the word victim NOT be used to describe the focal person for the bullies wrath. They use the word "target" maintaining it is more accurate and point out that bullies choose as their target someone in whom they see qualities they wish they posessed. Most targets of bullies in fact, have qualities the bully knows that they themselves lack.

    • Blake Flannery profile image

      Blake Flannery 4 years ago from United States


      I agree that the word "target" is appropriate also. I still see those who are bullied as victims. I read what you are referring to, and simply disagree. When I was bullied, I was a victim of assault, defamation, etc. Crimes are committed in some situations of bullying and I can think of no more accurate choice of word than victim, just other ways to say the same thing.

      I also disagree that bullies only bully those they envy or because they lack self-esteem. Some people might have high self-esteem and be looking to get even more. I think narcissists are likely to be bullies who are only wanting more power or esteem. I'll refer you to Trevor Romaine, a well-known Australian who develops materials and speaks to kids about dealing with bullies.

    • profile image

      CarolineVABC 2 years ago

      Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, Blake Flannery! At one time or another, I believe many of us have been victims of bullying, and probably have also been the bully, whether it was intentional or not. Most people do not do it intentionally, it is when a person "habitually" attack another (whatever form of bullying is used) it becomes an issue.

      I agree that there are different reasons when it comes to bullying (envy/lack of self-esteem/more power or esteem or any combination of these). Thank you for shedding some light into this much needed topic. Excellent article! Keep at it :-). God bless!

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