Adult Bullies
Dr. Phil talks to bullies and those they boss around.

Penny, Tamaya and Tamara


"My mother is the biggest bully I know," says Tamaya. "She does like to get physical and she's tough, very tough."


Her sister, Tamara, agrees. "She bullies whoever is in her path," she says. "It can be very intimidating."


Penny, who's told her kids that she brought them life and she can also take it away from them, knows she has anger issues. "I need a place to let off some steam, and I don't have one," she says. "I will hit them, and they had better not hit me back because I'm their mother." She says she's not a "hateful person," she simply doesn't "take crap from anyone," especially people she loves.


Tamaya turns to Dr. Phil. "I love her, but I don't want to be her punching bag anymore."

Penny admits that she has hit Tamaya and has called both her daughters "bitch." She's also tried to throw Tamaya off the balcony in their home. "I was really, really angry," she explains, "like in a rage."


Asked how she justifies this behavior, Penny says, "I think my children are very disrespectful."


Dr. Phil wants to know what Penny means when she says that she brought the girls life and she can also take it away. "Is that a threat that you're going to kill them?" he asks.


"I do what I have to do to get the respect they're supposed to give me," Penny replies.


"You don't look like a mean person," Dr. Phil tells her. "You look like you've got a lot of pain, and you may have a lot of frustration, but you don't look mean. So where is this coming from?"


Penny, who recently had a bad divorce, explains, "I've had a really difficult life ... And I think because my family is so close, I have no outlet for that stress."


"You don't want to hurt these girls, do you?" asks Dr. Phil.


"No," she says.

 

"How does it make y'all feel when she hits you or spits in your face, if she did, when she calls you names, and yells and screams?" Dr. Phil asks.


"If your mother will spit in your face and call you names and call you a bitch, call you stupid, then you start to think it's true," says Tamaya. "It lowers your self-image."


Dr. Phil says, "Now answer my question. How does it make you feel?"


"It makes me feel inadequate, like I can't please her," Tamaya says, tears coming down her face, as she starts speaking directly to her mom.


"I want to please you. I want you to be happy with the things that I do," Tamaya says. "I want you to be able to talk to me instead of fight or yell and call me names. I want you to realize what it does ... It hurts when you spit in my face and then tell everyone you didn't do it ... I go through hard times when you go through hard times, but for you to hit me or yell at me or call me a name doesn't help."


Dr. Phil asks Penny, "What do you see in her eyes?"


"Pain," she answers.

Dr. Phil asks Penny, "At what point in your life did you give yourself the right to be abusive to your daughters?"


"I come from a very violent environment," she explains. "So I haven't given myself license, I just have allowed myself to realize that I'm a work in progress, and I continue to struggle because that's what I come from."


"You are an intelligent, articulate woman," Dr. Phil tells Penny, who works as a psychiatric nurse. "You've got to raise the bar."


The underlying problems may be complex, so Dr. Phil offers to set them up with free counseling in their area. And while Penny's experience growing up cannot be trivialized, the solution is simple.


"Decide this is not permitted," Dr. Phil tells her. "You need to make what I call a life decision," he says, suggesting she tell herself: "I can't decide for my pain to go away, but I can decide I will not bully my daughters another day."


That's exactly the kind of life decision Dr. Phil made when he decided he wouldn't fight with his own father for one more day.


"Respect is commanded, not demanded," Dr. Phil tells Penny, urging her to find alternative outlets for her pain and frustration. He says, "Just decide, 'I don't want to use these girls as a dumping ground for my pain ... My daughters are going to see their mother as a safe place. My daughters are going to go to bed at night knowing there's one person in this world who thinks they are so special and so proud of them.'"


Penny says, "My biggest fear is that they would have children and just repeat the process over."


"Resolve to stop it now," Dr. Phil says.


He also offers Tamaya and Tamara advice. "You two have to set a boundary about what you will accept," he says. "Because if she crosses that boundary, then you have to do what you have to do to get away ... You do not stay in a situation where you are abused. You don't meet anger with anger, but you've got to put up boundaries."

David, Lorri and James


"I've had a problem since I was really young," says David, "wanting to be king of the mountain, so to speak."


His girlfriend, Lorri, says he always has to be in control. "He's a bully," she says. "No matter what you're talking about, he always has to be right."


David has hit Lorri twice. "I really don't even realize what I've done," he says, "until it's too late."


He's also had problems with his brother, James. "He hits me, he has been verbally abusive, and he still does it to this day," says James. "He really needs help."


David turns to Dr. Phil, "Please help me stop bullying so that I don't lose everyone who is important to me."

"In the heat of the moment, sometimes I lose control, and I don't really realize what I'm doing until after the fact," says David, who admits that he's physically, verbally, mentally and emotionally abused Lorri.


Dr. Phil tells Lorri, "Let me just cut to the chase with you. That is an absolute, drop-dead, non-negotiable deal-breaker. If you're in a relationship with somebody who's hitting you, you need to get out and stay out until someone, who's objective and qualified, tells you it's safe to return ... Unless and until he does something dramatic to change this, you need to get away and stay away."


Acknowledging that David had a difficult childhood, Dr. Phil asks him, "I want to know the thought process that you went through that gave you permission to be that way with her or be that way with James."


"I don't feel it is OK, and I don't think I do have permission," David answers.


Dr. Phil doesn't buy it. "But you take permission!" he says.


David says, "I don't really know what I've done until it's too late."

"David, you've got a rage inside," Dr. Phil tells him, bringing him face to face with his brother.


He asks James to tell his brother what it does to him when he's mean to him. "It crushes everything I've ever dreamed of becoming ... I used to look up to you so much when I was growing up. Then everything started happening. You never listened to me. Any time I tried to talk to you, I'm wrong. We could never get along."


Dr. Phil tells David, "Come out from behind your rage and talk to your brother."


"It was never you James," David tells his brother. "I'm sorry ... I'm not going to do it anymore. I want a relationship with you."


"I want that more than anything," James says in tears.