19 Behaviors of People Who Were Bullied as Kids

Some people are unaware of just how destructive and long-lasting the effects of bullying are. The consequences can last well into adulthood. You’ll find 19 behaviors of adults who were bullied as kids in this article.


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Psychology Today comments on why people are shy, stating that the feeling “emerges from a few key characteristics: self-consciousness, negative self-preoccupation, low self-esteem and fear of judgment and rejection.” People who were bullied as children may feel shy around others and afraid to let them in.


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Statistics from Counselling For Kids show that “one in five people (20%) say that they have ended a relationship or friendship with someone because of how they behaved when they were angry.” Uncontrolled anger in adults can stem from bullying behaviors that were never dealt with.


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Negative thoughts and general negativity are more common than we think. Care Counseling says that “80% of our thoughts are negative and 95% of our thoughts are repetitive.” Too many of these dark, negative thoughts are the result of a bad childhood where bullying was commonplace.

Substance Abuse

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There is an undeniable correlation between adult substance abuse and childhood trauma. This trauma includes bullying and the general mistreatment of a minor. Adults who were bullied relentlessly when they were children have a higher probability of engaging in self-destructive, addictive behaviors such as substance abuse.


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Stress is a normal part of life, but some people who were bullied as kids now face excessive stress and worry as adults. Excessive worry is dangerous and can lead to depression and anxiety. The Mental Health Foundation confirms that “51% of adults who felt stressed reported feeling depressed, and 61% reported feeling anxious.”


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Bullying in childhood can lead to another problematic adult behavior, namely, hypervigilance. Yes, a person who went through trauma as a child may find it difficult to let their guard down when they are older. They might find it hard to trust others and have trouble making close friends.


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OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) is an issue where people engage in obsessive behaviors. They often obsess over minor details to make up for the lack of control they had over their lives when they were bullied as children. 1 in 100 adults suffers from OCD, according to estimates from the International OCD Foundation.


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A person who has been bullied as a child might suffer from hypersensitivity as an adult. This is because the person suffered a lot as a child and simply cannot take any more abuse. The person might break down and cry at the slightest issue or inconvenience.


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Unfortunately, many people who were bullied as children become bullies when they are older. They bully people in the workplace and bully their partners. They do this because they never dealt with the hurt feelings they suffered as children and are now taking them out on others.


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According to the United Nations Development Programme, “6 in 7 people worldwide [are] plagued by feelings of insecurity.” Insecurity in an adult can often be traced back to how the person was treated in their childhood. Bullying, in many cases, has a lot to account for.


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A person who was bullied as a child might grow up to be a vindictive adult. They became disposed to seek revenge because of all the suffering they went through. This kind of person might always have feelings of resentment in their heart and find it hard to move on and let go.


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An adult who was bullied as a child will be on high alert to ensure that the same thing does not happen to their children. This might cause them to over-parent and, in a sense, rob their children of the freedom they need to deal with some of their problems on their own.


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Some people feel the urge to be in control of the outcome of every situation. They are sometimes controlling because of the unpredictable and traumatic experiences they had to face when they were bullied as children. They cannot bear facing the same situations again and, therefore, try to control everything that happens to them.

Lack of Expression

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A person who was bullied as a child might find it difficult to express themselves as an adult. This kind of person often feels like they were not heard when they were being bullied in the past, so they will not be heard now. They don’t talk through their problems with anyone; rather, they bottle them up.


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If a person was bullied as a kid, they might feel worthless even as an adult. This person might constantly put themselves down and undermine the good progress they make. This person will always concentrate on the bad things they’ve done and the mistakes they’ve made rather than their achievements.


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An adult who was bullied in their childhood might turn into an approval-seeking adult. This adult constantly seeks reassurance from others, even after completing the most basic tasks. They are constantly seeking approval because they are making up for the lack of help and positive reinforcement that they had as children.


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If a person finds it hard to trust others and is skeptical of the good intentions of others, this may stem from a past of continuous bullying. This person has had their trust broken in the past and, therefore, finds it difficult to trust others. They don’t like letting others in.


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If a person isolates themselves constantly instead of spending time with others, this may be a result of the bullying they faced as children. This person might be scared to try to make friends or fear what will happen when they spend too much time with others. Simply showing up at work might be challenging.

Avoid Confrontation

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A person who has suffered a lot of trauma and bullying in the past will not want to go through the same issues as an adult. So, when they are confronted, they retreat, hoping that the problem will go away on its own. Others will flee from the situation altogether.

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