Playing Victim - Dealing with a "cry-bully"
You have probably encountered this type of person in your life, but just never had a name for it. Whelp... here it is.
A cry-bully is someone with a victim mentality who engages in intimidation, harassment, provocation, manipulation and other abusive behaviors while claiming to be the victim. They hide behind the guise of personal growth and righteousness to abuse others, and then play the victim when confronted about the abuse they dish out.
The typical ‘cry-bully’; will often spend their time and energy convincing themselves and everyone else that they are the victim and not the aggressor. This a form of gas-lighting, a term commonly used when referring to narcissist, where they ignore their own negative behaviors and point out what you’re doing(real or perceived), in an attempt to incite a reaction out of you.
If you don’t fight back, the cry-bully belittles, insults and provokes you. If you fight back, the cry-bully whines, complains and usually starts a smear campaign because you “made them feel disrespected and unsafe.” It’s a covert way to seek control by making you feel guilty for agreeing with them and not controlling your anger. You in turn try your best to react with more grace and love each time but ultimately you will fail to meet these impossible standards because just when you think you’ve namaste-d your way to emotional maturity and bliss your antagonist will up the ante to get a rise out of you.
Your relationship is never just between the two of you with these people. Everything they do is for attention and the need to have outsiders validate their victimization. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to please people outside of YOUR close circle. The cry bully will rant to their family, friends, cousins, hairdresser, the mailman, and the clerk at the grocery store if they’ll listen. They have this unwavering need for everyone to know that they aren’t “the problem”.
This failed attempt at emotional maturity where seeking validation becomes more important than resolving the issue is a one way ticket to relationship disaster. The problem stems from the need to control, focusing on their emotions and self image rather than facts. The cry-bully will lash out in fear and anger when it's just the two of you but will be sure to make your reaction a grand publication as a way to redirect any negative attention themselves and diminish your character to others.
Filled with self-pity and self-absorption, these people seldom worry about the damage that they are causing others; but instead, believe that their pain is above everyone else’s. To everyone else they’re trying so hard to make things right but behind closed doors it’s unfounded accusations, arguments, screaming matches and insults followed by a smear campaign. Their sense of being a victim and need for validation becomes a reason to justify current and future cruel behavior.
It’ s a sort of Munchausen’s syndrome - causing one’s own misery then complaining about what's happened to them. The Cry-Bully always over explains to the point of demanding that you agree with them and always complains that you are blaming them without acknowledging your own mistakes and don’t appreciate their efforts. In short, they're always trying to be better but it's you who hasn't changed and doesn't see the "hard work" they've put in. This of course isn't true, but to the cry-bully, if your praise isn't public it's not valid.
So how do we coexist with them without being sucked into the drama?
1. Set Boundaries
Avoid giving them what they want by refusing to respond to their abuse. Don't match their energy and stoop to their level with insults. When you play the game with them, you give them the ammunition they need to attack you, your ideas, and anyone or anything you hold dear, while of course claiming they are the one being attacked. They will use your reaction as proof that YOU are indeed unstable and irrational which to them justifies their actions. And don’t think for a moment that they won’t enlist the help of social media, family and friends to further prove they’re the one suffering.
2. Call 'em Out
You can calmly point out the insults and manipulation tactics they’re using to get a reaction from you. Then explain that you know that they’re engaging in these behaviors in order to provoke you to join in, so that they can then announce the terrible treatment they’re receiving from you. It may in fact cause those that are willing to change and value your relationship to actually reassess some of their toxic behaviors. However, to some cry-bullies drama means "love and care" or something like it. Whatever you want to call it, once you call them out... refuse to engage.
3. Don't Take It Personal
Cry-bullies will say and do anything to get a reaction out of you. Especially, the deep dark secrets you've told them in confidence. That strained relationship with your mother, the loss of your job, the depression you've been struggling with... nothing is off limits to get you to respond to their verbal abuse. And if they don't have that kind of ammunition best believe they are not above making it up. Facts and logic don't matter with these types of people. It's all about feeding their egos and insecurities.
4. Center Yourself and Disengage
Some “cry-bullies” will stop at nothing to get a reaction. Some will follow you, throw insults, get up in your face and talk down on you to others to get a rise out of you. Don’t fall for it. It can be hard not to react in these situations but try your best to stay calm and shift your focus. If you can’t do that (I know it's easier said than done) try your best to walk away. Their OPINION is NOT your REALITY.