In a conversation with Bob's senior Administrator it became clear that a Director has implied there is some kind of inappropriate history between them that justifies her bullying behavior towards him.
"Wait, wait, wait!" Bob said loudly. "There has never been anything between us. I've never touched her, propositioned her, or suggested anything improper. I've been married for more than 30 years and I've never done anything like that to anyone."
When the bully seemed to be confused about how friends at an office act, Bob told her he expected for his friends to wave and say hello in the hall, and occasionally have friendly conversations. The Director said that if that's what he wants, then they couldn't be friends. Bob didn't understand that at all. Isn't that what office friends do: wave and say hello? Refusing to do that little made him feel like she had only pretended to be his friend so she could use him to organize happy hours and lunches with the people at the office she wanted to meet. The Administrator admitted to Bob that he felt used by her as well, and that she has used other people for her own purposes in the past.
Bob shook his head and continued speaking to his Administrator, "Unlike how she has done to me, I've never told a co-worker to avoid her, I've never told a coworker I hate her, and I've never organized a gathering of our colleagues and excluded her. I would never do that to anyone.”
The Administrator, who had been accused of inappropriate behavior by this Director in the past, looked surprised. “She’s never made a specific accusation about you, but she did imply there was something there.”
Bob was speechless. Of course she hasn't made an accusation -- he hasn't done anything. But how does he challenge unspoken implications of improper behavior? If anyone asks her about her insinuations, she can deny making any allegations at all and assert that she's not responsible for what other people believe (which is one of the dodges he has seen her use in the past).
Bullies like her know how to manipulate her co-workers and friends – a word here, an implication there, not correcting any hasty conclusions or assumptions people make, and she has a group of people who think the worst about him. How many people in the college has she infected this way? Bob's head hurts just thinking about it.
Since she tells Bob's co-workers she hates him and she has shown that she will imply falsehoods to influence others' opinions about him, Bob has avoided working with her and stayed away from her and her friends as much as possible. For more than two years Bob has successfully avoided being alone with her and her friends in meeting rooms, hallways, and parking lots since he's afraid of what she might do, or say he did.
The work of the college has undoubtedly been affected as projects that would have involved both of them or their departments have been reassigned, canceled or postponed indefinitely.
"The way female bullying is done often differs from male bullying. ... it's often more common for female bullies to form groups to deliberately exclude certain people, (and) to spread malicious gossip about others..."
From a class about sexual harassment at the college:
"The College will provide an environment free of harassment and intimidation, so everyone can feel safe and perform to the best of their ability."