The thing about bullying is there really are no limits, and in fact; the more absurd it is, the more likely a bully is to get away with it, specifically because of my second point.
And that second point is that most people ignore it. The parents of a bully don’t want to admit it because it makes them look bad as a parent, and other parents don’t want to take the issue to the parents of the bully because of the pushback they’ll receive.
If it’s school related, schools often just reprimand both parties because it’s easier than taking a side or trying to figure out what actually happened. Again, most parties largely just don’t want to deal with it, even to the point of concluding the bullied is just fabricating accusations because that’s just easier–again returning to my original point of the more outlandish it is, the easier it is to dismiss.
Me, I certainly received my fair share of bullying, and the above is based on that. I at least had a reputation for being honest, so there was at least some credibility to my claims of what someone did to me, but that only went but so far. In fact, some of the mistreatment I got was from adults who just lumped me in with the rest of the ass clowns my age.
Of course, that along with many false claims against me ended up putting me in the mindset that if I was going to get into trouble for something, I might as well get the satisfaction of doing it. So then I was a bully for a while. It’s a vicious cycle. I bullied a few kids, easy targets, or ones that had already started beef with me. I didn’t even like doing what I did, but so long as I was antagonizing them, it gave me the satisfaction that at least it wasn’t happening to me.
I stopped, of course, because I’m actually considerate of other people. In order to be a bully, you really need to disregard that entirely.
I’ve written two (I think) stories that dealt with bullying. (Those are my two Christmas stories.) They largely use the above, which is my observations and experience, as the basis for realism. I think they came out quite well in that regard.
But again, there are some truly horrible people out there, and for most everyone else, it’s easier to pretend it doesn’t exist than to accept that people can be as bad as they are. Only thing I would say to limit is the complexity of the abuse, and that’s dependent on the age/intellect of the bully. I’ve seen enough convoluted plots that could’ve registered far more believable if they’d worked it backward from an end goal.
If a bully is just being mean, it’ll likely be impulsive, not planned out. Therefore less complex. If a bully has a specific goal or reason for the bullying, then they’ll do whatever helps them achieve that goal, without consideration for their victim. Thus it may appear more complicated it premeditated, but it’s just the means to an end. For example, most of the crackpot conspiracy theories are just a misinterpretation of seeing inconsiderate people harm others for immediate personal gain.
Anyway, I’m rambling now. Hope it helps though.