6 Warning Signs of Bullying That Go Unnoticed

Signs of bullying 1are something that largely goes unnoticed when a victim’s acquaintances don’t know what to look for. This lack of awareness amongst the public is what leads victims to suffer in silence. But, first of all, what is bullying?

Bullying is being picked, teased, forced, and abused repeatedly to gain power by someone who has the misconception of being superior to everyone. Signs of bullying sometimes go unnoticed because victims, most of the time are embarrassed or afraid to share, some even don’t know how to communicate. There are various reasons for that which we will discuss later.

“Don’t turn your face away.
Once you’ve seen, you can no longer act like you don’t know.
Open your eyes to the truth. It’s all around you.
Don’t deny what the eyes to your soul have revealed to you.

Now that you know, you cannot feign ignorance.
Now that you’re aware of the problem, you cannot pretend you don’t care.
To be concerned is to be human.
To act is to care.”

– Vashti Quiroz-Vega

Victims of bullying can be anywhere, they can be in schools, colleges, the workplace, the home, and the neighborhood. And the bully can be – a single person, group of people, a stranger, someone you know, any member of your family or, it can be anyone around you.

Victims get targeted by bullies on the basis of – physical build, color, religious origin, disabilities, sexual orientation, gender, social status, and financial condition.

We can divide bullying into 4 categories – verbal bullying, psychological bullying, physical bullying, and relational bullying and will discuss them in detail further in the article.

1. Signs of Bullying

1.1 Psychological Signs of Bullying

  • Withdrawn behavior
  • Lack of self-esteem
  • Trust issues
  • Less sociable
  • Various mood swings
  • Quick to irritate & anger
  • Eating & sleeping disorder
  • Depression & anxiety
  • Emotional trauma
  • Long or short-term PTSD
  • Frequent nightmares
  • Negative effects on study & work progress, restrain in relationships.
  • Chances to become the bully themselves
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Sometimes suicide

1.2 Physical Signs of Bullying

  • Bruises on different body parts
  • Loss or gain of weight
  • Missing personal belongings in case of school children

2. Signs of Bullying That Goes Unnoticed

Victims sometimes work very hard to hide the signs of bullying, whether they are kids, teens, working professionals, or someone involved in a relationship. Reasons that include are – fear of getting it escalated, embarrassment, humiliation, loss of reputation, uncomfortable in sharing, etc.

Here are some of the bullying’s sign that goes unnoticed:

  • Nightmares
  • Low self-esteem
  • Quick to anger
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Bruises on body parts where no one can detect

In the case of school & college bullying, signs of bullying often get unnoticed because parents dismiss them as being a teenage phase, in the case of college students or stress of school works in the case of school kids. Cyberbullying is also difficult to detect as authority figures have no supervision of electronics goods/gadgets.

In the case of office bullying, signs of being bullied went unnoticed mostly because victims try to act tough. The age-long preaching by our traditional society here are to blame.

3. Different Types of Bullying

1.1 Verbal Bullying

Any bullying most of the time starts verbally, which means voice is used as a weapon. Victims get tortured or abused by – using derogatory remarks or nicknaming, spreading false rumors, making fun of the appearance, mimicking voices or actions, etc.

1.2 Physical Bullying

Victims get bodily harmed by being kicked, shoved, pushed, hit, pinched during physical bullying. In this case, the perpetrator can be single or multiple.

1.3 Psychological Bullying (Relational or Emotional)

Bullying of this kind sometimes goes unnoticed as it’s mostly verbal and performed discretely. It’s mostly common amongst girls.

Also known as social bullying, relational bullying includes restricting victims from joining a particular social group, spreading false rumors using social media, body shaming, or another form of intimidation.

Relational bullying at the official workplace affects a victim’s career, mental health, and work quality negatively. Bully sometimes get jealous because of victim’s success and try to tarnish his/her professional reputation. Senior officers also resort to bullying by degrading the victim in front of clients or colleagues.

1.4 Cyberbullying

Because of being mostly anonymous, bullying of this form often goes unnoticed by parents because of their lack of supervision over electronic devices. Cyberbullying is highest amongst high school goers & college-goers.

Various modes used in this type of bullying are – various social media platforms, texting, emailing, etc.

Perpetrators here mostly are unidentified as most use fake accounts to harass the victim. In case it’s done by a legal adult, he/she is liable for jail time.

Cyberbullying includes – spreading false rumors, leaking personal information or personal pictures, posting false information by hacking someone’s account, posting sexual remarks, spreading hate speech, etc.

According to a report, in the USA 40% of adults have experienced cyberbullying while in teens the number is much higher. While Facebook observes the highest number of cyberbullying incidents.

2. Bullying In Various Field of Life

Other than schools or colleges, bullying is also present in other fields or professions. Let’s see what are they:

2.1 School and College Bullying

As per the report of UNESCO (2018), almost one-third of teens have experienced bullying worldwide. At more than 32%, boys are largely targeted by bullies while girls at more than 28%, are less targeted by bullies. But numbers show that at 65%, girls are more likely to be impacted by bullying than boys at 62% in the school.

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Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

2.2 Workplace Bullying

Bullying at the workplace mainly includes verbal & relational bullying, cyberbullying, and sexual bullying /harassment. Sometimes it is done under the guise of the company’s policies and regulations or openly.

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Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

A bully can be seniors or colleagues at the workplace. Bullying actions may include – exertion of unnecessary work pressure by subordinates, humiliation under the guise of correction or work in front of clients or colleagues, jealousy, etc.

Whether it’s in the healthcare sector, legal sector, military services, bullying is everywhere. Bullying is common in some male-dominated professions like law and military services.

2.3 Parental Abuse or Bullying

Children or adults whose home-life is conflicted, stressful, where parents quarrel frequently, too controlling are likely to get affected adversely by their parent’s behavior. Some parents also frequently beat their children or neglect them completely. 

All these affect child mental wellbeing very badly. Some of the serious signs of bullying are –  they become quiet, they have a lack of friends, low self-esteem, poor grades, chances become higher for kids to become bully themselves to feel a sense of power. 

2.4 Relationship Bullying

Bullying in dating and marriage relationships is also common but least voiced. Bully here use emotional blackmail as a weapon to get what he/she wants. Children are also used as a means to blackmail in a married relationship.

Other frequent bullying behaviors can be – physical assault, weaponizing of sex, withholding financial assistance, demoralization, etc.

3. How Bullying Can Be Prevented

Cumulative efforts are essential to detect bullying in its initial stages and to completely stop it later. Govt. obviously has laid rules & regulations for every educational and working institution, but that’s not enough. It needs to be followed strictly. It’s important for everyone to play their part, whether they are innocent bystanders or someone acting because of peer pressure.

Authority figures such as parents and teachers are needed to be more vigilant and educate every single student about the ugly side of bullying. Teachers need to listen and take action against even the smallest of bullying actions. It will build students’ trust among teachers and they won’t hesitate from contacting them when needed.

While in the official workplaces, the HR department’s assistance needs to be readily available for employees. Stricter actions should be taken place against sexual bullying/harassment.

Special care of counselors or psychiatrists should be provided by these institutions in case of need. Parents need to encourage children or teens to come to them if they are being harassed by anyone.

Emotional bonds need to be strong in this case to make it happen. Also, everyone, in general, should be fully aware of bullying culture in order to read its signs in case someone in their family or around them is suffering in silence.

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

4. Conclusion

Bullying is not something we can eradicate in a short time period, it needs collective efforts & time and proper awareness. Bullying is an evil of society which needs to be eradicated so that kids and adults both can lead a happy & healthy life.

Signs of bullying should be monitored carefully in case victims hesitate to seek help. At last, parents, friends, and family needs to stand up and provide emotional support if anyone close to them is the victim.

Read more from us here.

5. FAQs

5.1 Why The Victim of Bully Suffer in Silence?

Reasons for the suffering of bullying victims vary from person to person and one age group to another. But the most common of them can be –  not knowing the right approach to handle or respond to bullying, embarrassment, shame, and being forced into acceptance because of peer pressure. 

Some bullies can be popular kids in the class or a senior within the workplace, in such cases, victims hesitate to complain as they think they won’t be get believed. Office employees keep it quiet to save their reputation. They try to act tough thanks to how our society has been led to believe from generations.

5.2 Why Someone Become Bully?

Researchers have proved that the motives of someone becoming a bully can be lack of self-esteem, fragile ego, fear of losing self-preserved image, jealousy, depression, volatile nature, etc.

Sometimes conflicted home environment and poor parenting can also create a bully. Children easily pick up the aggressive behavior of parents which can later affect their adult life too.

All these stressful home environments prevent them from becoming emotionally insecure. They started bullying to win back lost self-control. It gives them a sense of power.

5.3 Who Basically Get Targeted By Bullies?

Victims who mostly get targeted by bullies have these characteristics – unsupportive home environment, emotional insecurity, lack of self-esteem, physical appearance, mental weakness, social awkwardness, etc.

Girls get mostly targeted for relational and verbal bullying while boys for physical bullying.

  1. Lock, Robin H., and Melissa L. Trautman. “Identify and reduce bullying in your classroom.” Intervention in School and Clinic 38.4 (2003): 243-246. ↩︎

Last Updated on by ayeshayusuf


  1. Before I used to be thankful for not getting bullied and used to pity those who were once a victim but as I started to understand more about bullying I realised I have been a victim of psychological bully, but I am glad I came out of it without even realising.

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