Help, My Friend Is A Bully!

What should you do if your friend is a bully?

Friends are extremely important to us all so when a friendship goes wrong, it can be difficult to know what to do or where to turn to. A friend who has become a bully can be a particularly worrying and confusing situation. That person who you once admired, confided in and enjoyed hanging out with now feels like someone else entirely.

What Counts As Bullying?

Bullying isn’t always physical – in fact, a lot of the time it’s mean words or actions. All types of bullying result in someone being hurt, whether that’s emotionally or physically.

Types of bullying include verbal and physical abuse, emotional abuse and controlling or excluding behaviour. There’s also racist, sexual, transphobic or homophobic bullying, or bullying someone because of their disability. If your friend is doing or saying any of these things, it’s bullying.

What To Do If Your Friend Is Bullying Someone Else

It can be difficult to speak up, but we should always call out bullying when we see it and tell an adult. This can be especially difficult when we consider the bully to be our friend. If you’re with your friend and a situation arises, its ok to intervene if you feel able and do your best to stop any bullying. Make it clear that you don’t agree with their actions or condone their behaviour by saying something like, “That’s not cool, stop it.”

It can feel as if we’re somehow betraying our mate but speaking out is always the right thing to do. Talk to a teacher or an adult about what’s happened to get more help and guidance. You can also reach out to the person who has been bullied to offer your support.

What To Do If Your Friend Is Bullying You

Sometimes people turn on their own friends. It can be obvious bullying but is usually more subtle. You might feel intimidated or threatened by your so-called-friend to do or say things you don’t feel comfortable with. Your friend might then try to pass this off as “It was just a joke!”. This is known as gaslighting. It’s a form of abuse and can make an individual feel very anxious and self-doubting.

Another way a friend can bully you is to gossip about you or share your secrets behind your back. This can be very hurtful and, in some cases, embarrassing. It’s also a massive breach of your trust and can make you feel as if you no longer have someone you can confide in.

Dealing With Being Bullied By A Friend

Being bullied by your friend can be very isolating, stressful and upsetting. You can try talking to your friend about the situation and explain how it makes you feel. Ask them to stop and set clear boundaries. If your friend makes an effort to change their ways, you might want to continue your friendship. However, you may feel wary and feel the time has come to re-evaluate your friendship and that’s also totally fine. Do what feels right for you. Read our Friend Or Foe guide to help you make up your mind.  

If you can relate to any of these situations, please talk to an adult about how you’re feeling, so they can help you think through your thoughts, feelings and how you might deal with being bullied. It hurts and it can happen to anyone. If you’re still not sure about whether or not your friend is bullying you, talking it over with someone else can really help you to see things from a different perspective. If you’d rather talk to someone anonymously, call Childline on 0800 11 11.


Related Posts

Download the App

Hidden strength the go – to, advice + support portal for 13 – 24 year olds designed to provide accessible and immediate support and chat-based therapy from qualified therapists to any young people who may be struggling with their mental wellbeing, completely for free.