Tonight I witnessed a grown woman bullying another grown woman in front of a room full of other grown women. All professionals. All theoretically peers. Certainly the bully held a slight position of power, but that did not justify or excuse her behavior.

After a long and fruitful discussion among all the individuals there, just when I thought it was safe, one woman began to badger, scold, and verbally stomp on another. The victim did her best to hold her own, answer the unreasonable questions reasonably. But there was not much to be done.

Why do grown-ups behave this way? Was this woman still compensating for something done to her as a child that she had to mistreat another grown-up in a professional setting, as if she were a child, but certainly with less patience or kindness than one would hope a child would be treated.

It was difficult to witness. The woman sitting next to me was holding her head in her hands. I interjected a couple times as much as I thought was appropriate for my role there. But it didn’t matter.

You tend to think of overgrown bullies as big, loud men who yell or hit or break things. But they can be smart, petite women too.