There are many different types of bullying, ranging from taunting to verbal abuse to actual physical assault. Physical bullying involves real bodily contact between a bully and his or her victim, for the express purpose of intimidation or control over the victim. This may include kicking, biting, punching, scratching or wrestling the victim until he or she is completely submissive or unable to retaliate. This could also involve the use of non-lethal weapons in order to inflict additional damage, or the threat of lethal force if the victim continues to resist or fails to be intimidated. Bullying is not limited to a school playground, however. It can also occur in the workplace or in the home as well.
Of all the forms of bullying, physical bullying presents the most immediate threat of serious injury or even death for the victim. The idea behind it is to establish the bully's superiority and his or her continued control over the victim. A victim will most likely survive a bully's first assault physically, but the perceived threat of continued or escalated violence is supposed to intimidate him or her into not taking any action against the offender. This type of bullying relies heavily on the victim's unwillingness to endure another attack or do anything which might trigger a bully's anger.
Unlike other forms of bullying, physical bullying often leaves an unambiguous trail of tangible evidence against the bully. Broken bones, bruising, cuts or scratches can all verify that a physical assault did indeed take place, even if the victim is unwilling or unable to identify his or her assailant. An intimidated victim may dismiss the injuries as accidental or work-related in order to avoid further incidents with a workplace or schoolyard bully. Physical bullying not only has an obvious physical component, but an emotional or mental aspect as well. Victims may feel depressed or powerless because they were unable to defend themselves against a bully.
Physical bullying is often difficult to distinguish from roughhousing or hazing. A group of adolescent males may engage in mutual combat as a social rite of passage, for example, or military recruits may use physical intimidation as a team-building exercise. Physical bullying, however, only works when the odds are heavily in favor of the bully. A physically stronger bully must be able to take full advantage of his or her victim's inability to fight back. To a bully, the victim is clearly an inferior who must be intimidated into submission or rendered harmless.
It can be challenging to address the issue of physical bullying, whether in the home, the schoolyard or the workplace. The bully may have serious emotional or anger management issues which can only be addressed through professional counseling. A workplace bully may be transferred to another department, or a schoolyard bully may face expulsion, but his or her bullying is unlikely to stop until the underlying reasons for the destructive behavior are uncovered and dealt with therapeutically.