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11/15/13

How To Deal With The Adult Family Bully


It's getting tough dealing with Pat. Thanks for your feedback from those of you whom have dealt with this type situation. Pat does have a home nurse, physical therapist and occupational therapist each coming twice a week, so that's 6 visitors a week. That helps and Pat is okay with these visitors so far, but it's not enough. My sister called to let me know she's burnt out and can't deal with it anymore. She left and is not going to continue to try to get Pat to take the medications needed, or to use the walker to get around. Pat does not want anyone to tell Pat what to do including what meds to take or how to get around. My sister can not handle the Sundowner syndrome effects that seem to switch Pat from somewhat agreeable, into a meanie; hurling insults, accusations and hurtful lies that everyone wants Pat dead, and that the caregivers are keeping Pat locked up like a prisoner so they can steal Pats money and put Pat away. My sister was in tears and is emotionally drained, and physically exhausted. She was throwing up and getting sick from the turmoil. The thin ice has broke through. She has slipped through and has decided to let Pat fail alone. She packed up and went to her own home to get the love and support she needs from her husband and sweet little puppy. 

When I got the update from Sis I was not surprised, and I am having to plan a strategy that will not alienate Pat within a few minutes of my arrival. Pat does not want help. Pat does not want to give up any decision making or choices to others. I think I'm going to just be cool and calm and not take charge. In my mind I'll convince myself I'm just up there for a leisure vacation and just happen to be staying at Pat's house. I'm bringing a dozen books, my Ipad and laptop, and will work on my writing. I hope to go for a walk on the nature trails everyday, learn the coupon deals in MN and spend time with my family. At least my time there will be short and I know I can endure anything for a few weeks.

As I was discussing this with my dear husband (DH) and thinking of some coping strategies, I realized that essentially Pat is an adult bully. I know Pat is demented, and this behavior is not intentional, but it is reality. I think that every person has a true personality that comes out when they are intoxicated and they might be sweet, lovable and affectionate; or they can become mean, argumentative and say stupid stuff. I'm thinking that perhaps this happens too under certain mind altering medications. Pat is on a mind altering medication that will take weeks to become effective, but meanwhile it is allowing the mean paranoid personality to dominate. Pat always has been one to be the martyr and make inappropriate (in my opinion) "jabs" comments. For example one night on the phone, I told Pat "DH says Hi", and Pat replied "Oh really, that surprises me he would think of me." Instead, I would have hoped Pat just reply "Oh thanks, tell him I said Hi back."

Adult bullies target victims in many of the same ways children who bully do. No matter their age, bullies are opportunistic and tend to prey on people they perceive as a threat or that they dislike because of differences. They often choose targets who excel and are capable, dedicated, popular, intelligent and attractive but whose interpersonal style tends to be non-confrontational. A bully’s goal is to gain control by making others feel angry or afraid through the use of verbal abuse such as name-calling, sarcasm and teasing; threatening; mocking; insulting; ignoring or discrediting the person by spreading rumors. Bullying is a learned behavior. As children, adult bullies were likely not taught how to communicate their needs in healthy ways. Their parents may have modeled bully-like interactions with others. Many adult bullies were either bullies or bullied as children. via

Here are some ways to deal with Adult Bullies This is just the summary, for explanations click the link.

1. Remember it is not your fault. The bully's actions have nothing to do with you and everything to do with their own pain.

2. See if killing them with kindness will work. Try using humor or a well chosen word, or kind action (like a hug) to disarm the bully. 

3. Try assertive responses against the bully. Look the bully firmly in eye and tell them to stop. Use an assertive tone of voice. "I've noticed that you are trying to bully me and I want this behavior to stop" Maintain an open body position, don't cross your arms or legs.

4. Enlist help from other family members, doctors or therapists. 

5. Remain calm and avoid saying words you will regret later, walk away. 

6. Confront the bully by talking privately when you are both sitting down. Explain why this will be better for both of you to avoid negativity, you both have a common goal. Tell the bully "I understand you being annoyed but lets focus on discussing the best solution to your concerns." 

7. Remove yourself from the negative situation before it escalates, set healthy boundaries. You may have to distance yourself from this person.

8. Get support - phone a friend, share your troubles.

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