Taija Mård
Taija Mård asked:

While blogging about this novel I came to wonder about the English term 'bullying' ('kiusaaminen' in Finnish) versus 'mental abuse'. To me, the latter is a more inclusive term. How do you, native English speakers, see this? Is 'bullying' a valid word to use when systematic teasing, belittling, invalidation, gaslighting etc. is concerned? Or does it underestimate the victim's sufferings?

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Julie The term comes from something that actual bulls do to each other if too many are kept in too small a space, such as in large scale animal farming operations. They will gang up on the weakest bull and (by ways I will not describe here) eventually kill him. This phenomenon is explained in detail in Temple Grandin's (non-fiction) book "Animals Make Us Human," and probably also in her "Humane Livestock Handling" which last one I have not read.
Hannah That's an interesting question! I do think that "mental abuse" is a more inclusive term. I would consider "bullying" to be a type of mental abuse, usually associated with more overt shows that involve the spectators of the abuse as well as the abuser and victim. (This is just a personal interpretation, since you asked for the perspective of native English speakers.)
Liam Murray I'd agree with you. The word "bullying" has been overused so many times that now it implies that the victim is childish, immature or cowardly and should man up and take responsibility. If you're not a 3rd grader, you don't say you're being bullied. But "Mental abuse," on the other hand, does the opposite; it implies that the perpetrator is unreasonable and sociopathic, and that the victim, despite all his/her efforts, cannot defend him/herself alone and needs support.

(Note: I have not read the novel; but having read Atwood's magnum opus "The Handmaid's Tale," it piques my interest.)
BigBooty#1 I think "Mental Abuse" is more specific and less inclusive, where "bullying" covers all manner of abuse from physical to mental. Mental abuse that happens through social media comments and posts is referred to as bullying. Also, times have changed since Liam Murray's comment. Kids are more empathetic and cruelty is in most cases considered uncool.
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by Margaret Atwood (Goodreads Author)
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