Bullying and codependency in relationships


Bullying questionnaire from Take the Bully by the Horns by Sam Horn – read more

Cover of "Take the Bully by the Horns: St...

Cover via Amazon

Horn sets forth a questionnaire at the beginning of the book that is designed to determine whether or not a person in your life qualifies as a bully. 1 is rarely, 3 is occasionally, and 5 is often. (NOTE: My responses are in parenthesis after the questions.)

1. Do you “talk on eggshells” around this person and watch everything you say because s/he has a hair trigger temper? (5)

2. Does this person act condescending or superior? Does s/he treat you as if you were incompetent? (4)

3. Is this person hypercritical? Does s/he blame everyone else for what goes wrong? (5)

4.  Does s/he have a Jekyll/Hyde personality? Is s/he charming in public and cruel in private?(5)

5. Does this person use aggressive body language, inappropriate touching, or physical violence to intimidate you? (5, no physical violence or inappropriate touching)

6. Does this person dominate conversations and and talk over people who try to get a word in edgewise? (5)

7. Does this person call you vile names or have derogatory labels for you? (3)

8. Does this person insist on controlling the decisions (e.g., financial, food, travel) and attack you if you dare question his/her judgment or authority? (5)

9. Has this person tried to isolate you from friends/family? Is s/he resentful when you spend time with others? (4)

10. Does this person play martyr to make you feel guilty or responsible for his/her moods? (5)

11. Does this person pick fights and/or criticize you in public because s/he knows you won’t cause a scene? (4)

12. If you threaten to end the relationships does this person make nice to get you back and then begin mistreating you again? (5)

13. If you object to this person’s behavior, does s/he go on the offensive and demand to know why you’re giving her or him such a hard time? (5)

14. Does this person indulge in crazy making behavior, such as breaking commitments, reversing statements, or twisting things around and then accusing you of overreacting? (5)

15. Are you happier when you’re not around this person? (5)

The questions provide responses with a Likert scale (1-5) and provides an analysis of the results in the following categories:

35 or below: This individual is not a bully. S/he may be unpleasant to deal with once in awhile; however, win-win communication on your part will enable the two of you to coexist cooperatively most of the time.

36-55: This person may occasionally exhibit bully behavior. You may need to escalate your response in those situations so s/he understands that that particular behavior is inappropriate. If you keep your cool and communicate constructively, you’ll usually be able to resolve what’s wrong, repair the relationship, and move forward, not much worse for wear.

56-75: Uh-oh. It looks like you’ve got a full-blown bully on your hands. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Get your pen out, sit down, and start taking notes so you can begin planning how to stop this individual from running and ruining your life.


Bullying and codependents: this type of behavior can be especially damaging for codependents because it is difficult for a codependent to resist the efforts of the bully. Learning to resist or counteract bullying for codependents in terms of a relationship is just part of relearning, unlearning, or developing skills and habits for the first time in their lives.

Even though I am aware of these dynamics, handling bullying situations is quite difficult for me and I feel like my resistance to this behavior puts me in a risky situation where I will likely be punished in some way (e.g., demeaned, minimized, dehumanized, criticized, put down, or shamed). I think it takes a lot of courage to deal with these things, given my codependent comfort zone.

The whole thing is unbelievably draining and sometimes I feel a sense of hopelessness and desperation in that I cannot see a way out. Not being able to see a way out, or feeling trapped, is an irrational reaction and I know that intellectually. Now I just have to unplug the fear and get past it. So tired of this.


4 thoughts on “Bullying and codependency in relationships

  1. Thank you for the reference below this great article! So many people…adults…live in fearful and hateful relationships. They need to recognize they are being victimized and have other options. Happy to have your visit as well.


  2. Pingback: Off-the-table-itis, aghennnnnn | Dharma Goddess: The Journey to Me

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