I was in a job I loved working for someone who was either a psychopath or a narcissist or both. This woman was so unprofessional as a manager that she made things at work personal rather than work based. I ended becoming a target of this woman who was bent on making my life a living hell. Not only at work but spreading malicious gossip throughout the community, along with another narcissist who purported himself to be the leader of our community.
My time was watched and I was chastised even for being 5 minutes late, so I started being early and quit working overtime, which I never submitted for. My bathroom time was watched and I was chastised for taking too long in the bathroom. They attempted to sabotage my work by giving me an assignment that had been sitting the managers desk for a week and told me it was due by the end of the day, so I worked overtime to finish it. They took away my laptop and expected me to work without it. They also had the finance staff and other staff convinced that I had stolen documents from the finance department and given them to an activist in the community, so I wasn’t allowed in the finance department. They wrote me up and suspended me for refusing to fill out government paper work that was expected to lie about. Incidently, a former lawyer who had become my direct manager due to a new system they put in place, filled it out instead, I believe he now works for Justice Canada and was a large part of my harassment as well. When I finally obtained my employee file, it was padded with infractions for a year after I was employed by them.
These people knew no bounds when it came to covering up for themselves and their disgusting ineptness and cruelty. It was nothing for them to destroy a person and their reputation just to make the other person look bad who knew the truths about how they operated and to attempt to ruin their credibility, so nobody would believe them. I wasn’t the first to be a target of these malicious people and I wont be the last either because they are still allowed to operate with impunity to this day.
I stood up against these people and turned in what I knew to be some criminal activity that taken place in the department I worked for as an assistant at the time, which involved my former boss, the whole upper administration as well as the politicians of the day. I guess today they would call it “whistle blowing”. I wanted these people held accountable for all the atrocities that had committed and got away with and I wanted them to be stopped from destroying more lives. However, things didn’t turn out that way, they made sure of it and even had the police on their side because they made sure my father. who was the chief of police at the time was fired because he was investigating it.
I was bullied and harassed by this woman for almost 4 years and I chose to report her to her bosses and that backfired to, because she had them convinced I was the one who was bullying and harassing her. Yes, you heard me right, she was my manager and I was the one bullying and harassing her. I know it’s laughable, but again this is how these people operate. For my pleasure, I lost my job, lost my house and sunk into a 3 year depression all the while trying to raise 2 small children. Yes this was the 5th rung on the ladder of PTSD and some people wonder why I didn’t quit? It was simply because I was a single mother raising two small children on my own with barely any help at all from their father. I did try to apply for other jobs while still employed by these people but to no avail and I needed the income.
Then came of course the financial struggle of being unable to work for three years due to severe depression and to this day I still struggle financially after having had to go on disability due to my PTSD about 8 years ago. My kids are grown up now, but when I look back the struggle wasn’t just my own, it was my children’s too and for that I am sorry. I wanted our lives to be so much different than they were and for my children never to have had to struggle or suffer for one minute in their lives, but things didn’t quite turn out the way I planned.
Yes I tried to bring a lawsuit against these people but I did not have the money to pursue it because I only left there with 800.00 in vacation pay and they also made sure to say I got fired with cause so I couldn’t even collect unemployment.
This is work place bullying and harassment at its finest and I tried my hardest but I could never get anything done about it. Unfortunately, it was in the 90’s before there were any laws against it. This also all took place on an Indian Reserve, and as I found out there was almost nothing I could do and what I could do, took money, which I didn’t have.
What is Workplace Bullying?
Bullying is usually seen as acts or verbal comments that could ‘mentally’ hurt or isolate a person in the workplace. Sometimes, bullying can involve negative physical contact as well. Bullying usually involves repeated incidents or a pattern of behaviour that is intended to intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate a particular person or group of people. It has also been described as the assertion of power through aggression.
While bullying is a form of aggression, the actions can be both obvious and subtle. It is important to note that the following is not a checklist, nor does it mention all forms of bullying. This list is included as a way of showing some of the ways bullying may happen in a workplace. Also remember that bullying is usually considered to be a pattern of behaviour where one or more incidents will help show that bullying is taking place.
Examples of Bullying Include:
- Spreading malicious rumours, gossip, or innuendo that is not true.
- Excluding or isolating someone socially.
- Intimidating a person.
- Undermining or deliberately impeding a person’s work.
- Physically abusing or threatening abuse.
- Removing areas of responsibilities without cause.
- Constantly changing work guidelines.
- Establishing impossible deadlines that will set up the individual to fail.
- Withholding necessary information or purposefully giving the wrong information.
- Making jokes that are ‘obviously offensive’ by spoken word or e-mail.
- Intruding on a person’s privacy by pestering, spying or stalking.
- Assigning unreasonable duties or workload which are unfavourable to one person (in a way that creates unnecessary pressure).
- Underwork – creating a feeling of uselessness.
- Yelling or using profanity.
- Criticising a person persistently or constantly.
- Belittling a person’s opinions.
- Unwarranted (or undeserved) punishment.
- Blocking applications for training, leave or promotion.
- Tampering with a person’s personal belongings or work equipment.
Mental Health Harm:
Bullying is often called psychological harassment or violence. What makes it psychological is bullying’s impact on the person’s mental health and sense of well-being. The personalized, focused nature of the assault destabilizes and disassembles the target’s identity, ego strength, and ability to rebound from the assaults. The longer the exposure to stressors like bullying, the more severe the psychological impact. When stress goes unabated, it compromises both a target’s physical and mental health.
Psychological and Emotional Health Harm:
PTSD is the result of environments that traumatize, in those working conditions there is little predictability or control. This can create an intensive or overwhelming threat to a person which often results in the destruction of his or her sense of security.
PTSD, best known as a war wound, is actually possible for anyone whose coping mechanisms have been overwhelmed. It happens in childhood abuse cases, domestic violence cases, and the workplace. When a worker suffers PTSD, the workplace for that person has become a war zone.
Please know that these are injuries. Depression starts in bullied workers who never experienced it before. For the person who was previously depressed and successfully managing it, bullying exacerbates the condition. Bullying causes injuries, albeit psychological in nature and unseen, as surely one can be injured from physically unsafe conditions at work.
Bullying, Economic Crisis and Suicide:
In these times of pandemic unemployment and loss of health insurance, many people are stressed as much as bullied workers have always been. Without insurance, mental health treatment is often unaffordable. The raging economic crisis takes a significant toll on individuals, couples, families, and children. Financial strain is linked to increased incidence of domestic violence, substance abuse, divorce, and a disruption of normal childhood development.
Sometimes, the violence is turned inward. When the “way out” seems unattainable and no alternatives can be imagined, some people contemplate suicide. In the WBI 2012-D Study, 29% of bullied targets considered suicide and 16% had a plan. If you or someone you know are talking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at once.
Risk of Re-traumatization:
PTSD is terribly misunderstood by bullied targets and witnessing coworkers and family members. Targets will suffer uncontrollably without treatment by a trauma specialist (an ordinary counselor won’t suffice). Trauma’s onset is typically delayed and it lasts long after removal from traumatizing conditions. That baffles everyone. People in your life can’t understand why or how the pain lasts so long.
Events that sustain PTSD and prevent the start of healing include fighting back with your employer, the tortuous multi-step years-long grievance process dragged on by your employer, disability or workers comp insurance claims, and lawsuits with their invasive depositions that take years to complete.
The problem of re-triggering the trauma, months or even years later, is more vexing. You believe you have healed. You passed the magic one year period since all triggering-events ended. Your lawsuit is long past. Then, you drive by the parking lot or run into former coworkers who abandoned you when you needed them most and all the negative emotions come rushing back. You are again paralyzed. It is not a weakness on your part. Rather, it is proof of the intensity of the trauma you endured.
In a way, you might always be a “recovering” victim of trauma. Proneness to re-traumatization differs across individuals. It has been described as similar to cancer that returns after remission that can be driven back into remission. Practice your desensitization skills and revisit your counselor familiar with your case. It will be a quicker return to normalcy than when the traumatizing bullying first occurred.
This is a long post but an important one with a lot of important information. Bullying in the workplace can happen anywhere at any time and its important that we identify and deal with it immediately for our own mental health.