No one is immune from the negative effects of being bullied and/or bullying others, even adults. Bullying in adulthood has been linked to absenteeism from work, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, stress-related illnesses, and substance abuse problems.
The experience of bullying can certainly have a significant effect down the road, even as an adult. Those who are bullied are at a much greater risk for depression and low self-esteem later in life. They are more likely to report migraines, than those who are not bullied. Additionally, those who are bullied are more likely to have problems with alcohol and drug use.
On the other hand, bullies themselves are actually prone to negative effects later in life, as well. Studies show that they are more prone to aggression and criminality in adulthood. Below, I'm including a link to an article that contains some startling statistics.
Even when bullying does not drive victims to the extremes of suicide, victims experience significant psychological harm which interferes with their social and academic and emotional development. The sooner the bullying is stopped, the better for the long-term outcome for victims. If bullying patterns are allowed to continue unchecked, there are long-term consequences for the victim.
Yes, we get older and bigger and hopefully develop some coping mechanisms along the way, but the effects can be just as grave as it really depends on the how well the person develops some internal resistance and protection.
While children have little choice in that they may have to go to a particular school and be subjected to the harassment, adults often have more choice in that they can choose to leave, however so many do not.
If we feel a state of powerlessness and hopelessness, we are more likely to be a target and less likely to take the actions necessary to reclaim our power.
Hope this helps.
My book is soon going to press...Stop Bullying Now...and although designed more for youth, the suggestions are helpful to adults as well.
I am co authoring another book on bullying in the workplace and that will be to follow!!!