Bullying is actively talked about in the context of a school or the workplace, but are you aware it can even slither its way into a divorce process? The emotional turmoil of a painful life transition like a divorce is already taxing and complicated, and when laced with something as heinous as bullying, it turns into threats, mind games, and clever court wars — a power-play tripping even the most sagacious individuals.
Neither spouse may have exhibited any sort of abusive behavior previously, but the resentment, hurt, anger, acrimony, contempt, and fear can bring out the worst in anyone. A charming and reasonable person can easily turn into someone mean and petty — a person full of disdain, spite, and vengeance. A typically friendly spouse becoming a bully during the divorce process is termed divorce bullying.
Spouses presumably turn into divorce bullies due to their own insecurities and problems in translating their emotions. Behaving like an overgrown toddler, they use a series of power tools to get ‘their way’. They are well versed with our fears, insecurities, and issues, thus having the utmost capability to exploit them and hit right where it hurts. They may bully the victim by making threats regarding child custody and visitation hours. Painting the victim in a negative light by lying about incidents, threats regarding alimony and property division, hiring a lawyer for the sole purpose of intimidation, threatening to take legal steps to unduly increase the monetary expenses and burden and isolation from family and friends who act as emotional support are commonly engaged tactics as well.
The purpose of such bullying around finances, child arrangements, practical support, decision-making is to establish superiority. They try to present themselves as the top dogs, as someone who knows more than you, who can laugh at you, be disrespectful, and pretend to not take you seriously. The bully often sows seeds of doubt in the mind of the victim, which begins to bloom when their clear thought process becomes muddled and chips away their confidence. They manipulate and exploit the fears of their victims in order to come out as the 'better' one, however, essentially there’s no real winner in divorce.
Fairness or reason doesn't matter to the bully. They follow the law of the jungle, jumping at any signs of weakness and vulnerability, twirling and twisting the victim’s responses and using them for their own benefit. Being a victim to a divorce bully adds another dimension of complication as well as stress to the emotionally charred process, leading to severe mental and psychological consequences for the victim.
Any engagement with the bully poses a challenge to the victim's mental wellbeing, thus, it's best to not partake in any emotional warfare. Often empty threats like “You are going to regret this”, “The judge is going to rule in my favor” or “You are nothing without me” are made, so sticking with the facts ensures faring much better throughout the process. An attorney can ease the victim’s concerns, serve as an intermediary during spiteful actions and nasty communication, and provide them with valuable guidance.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pursing an Honors degree in Economics and a minor degree in commerce; I'm an ardent cynophilist and a plant parent who's a child at heart. An ambivert who's always seeking adventures or just staying cooped up inside her room with a soft drink in her hand and a screen in front of her face, there's no in between. You can find me humming and swaying my body along to anything from 90s rock music to K-pop. I'm an avid reader with a diverse range of interests. You can always find me with a pencil in hand sketching or doodling a lil' something, just going about my daily life, viewing the world through rose tinted glasses.