What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Policy and Procedure? Bah!

by Woopie
(Adelaide)

Bullying can make you sick! I can't work at all. I have to accept my life may never be the same again. Every aspect of my life has been affected. As well as impacting on my finances I am now dependant (albeit partially) on my aging mother who is not well herself. I need help with all my activities of daily living. My illness effects the cloths I wear, my social life, intimacy - basically my capacity to enjoy life as I have ceased to become the light and bubbly people person who loves to dance and have become the person who can't walk far and needs to rest a lot. Once very active I now have to balance my activities so I don't overtax myself. It has set me up to appear lazy and unsociable - the opposite to who I really am.

Because of my workplace I have suffered the effects of Adrenal exhaustion. Noteworthy of this is that you cannot live without your adrenals. If your adrenal glands cease to function you die. I have stage 3 adrenal exhaustion. There is not stage 4. It's death.

So how did this happen? I bought the organisational speil that policies and procedure were the rules that both worker and organisation work by. Wrong. Because when push came to shove I was the one to get shoved out the door and denied what policy and procedure had assured me.

3 years ago I was the new girl on the block with a lifetime of experience yet to be gleened by my workmates. However my manager, more interested in pleasing her superiors than doing the right thing by her staff, employed me as a cost saving bandaid to a festering gaping wound that was a department at odds with one another. The staff were unhappy and rightly so. Their needs were being ignored and it caused them to turn on each other.

The eternal peacemaker, I consistantly took the passive approach. I looked at it as a test of time and that they would eventually see my gifts and talents and accept me. I got on with everyone except some senior staff members who were masters at the art of bullying. I eventually went to the manager about being singled out. Again and again she said she would handle it but the incidences seemed to escalate in propensity. Long story short, my manager used these bullies to try and make me leave my job by making me look like the bad egg. Others were influenced by the negative attitude being directed toward me and I was openly ostracised in front of clients, excluded from opportunities of learning and undervalued my input.

The stress indicators - like being withdrawn, confused under pressure and having to take regular sick leave added to the negativity surrounding my employment there. I was emotionally and psychologically drained. Then I sustained an injury that affected my physical capacity. On my return from leave I was openly treated as a nuisance because I was on 50% workload. Gradually my workload was increased to include the workload of someone else who had left and hadn't been replaced - another cost cutting measure by the organisation. I finally broke down. From that moment I was cut off from my work society. I didn't hear from anyone from work for several months. When I did I was told that workers were warned not to contact me, my manager forcing some to make a statement that she did not tolerate bullying in the workplace!

The insurance company's aim is to place me back into this workplace before I am signed off from WorkCover. There has been no dialogue with me - no indication that changes to the system or further education on prevention of bullying have been implemented to prevent further 'injury' to me or other workers. My worker's comp payments have now stopped - a direct ploy to make me go back to work without my doctor's authority. I will have to access my superannuation to pay the lawyers to defend me. I really don't know where this is going but I may become the first person to die in the workplace due to adrenal failure! Will anyone care?!!

Comments for Policy and Procedure? Bah!

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please live your life woopie
by: cathy

Hi Woopie in Australia, I have just now seen your story on overcomebullying.org. Please I beg of you do anything and everything to start living your life again. I posted my submission to this website last year sometime. I guess there are certain similarities between all submissions but yours kind of struck me because I too believed in the "policies and procedures" but when it came down to it, the "policies and procedures" were there to protect the bullies and not the victim. My story goes way back to the early eighties and to be truthful the bullying affected the whole of my working life here in Ireland because I have only ever worked for the one organisation. I left in Feb of 09 with a relatively small pay-off and a huge mortgage and do you know for a long time I felt really angry bitter and resentful for the way my life had turned out. I chanced across two books by a guy called Eckhart Tolle, I think he is a German spiritual healer. One is called "The Power of Now" and the second one is called "A New Earth". If you can take the time and have the patience, try and find either one or both of these books and read them. By carrying all this baggage around with you, you will allow the bullies to win because in your heart and in your mind you have lost. Please sweetheart give yourself a chance to live your life, you sound like such a wonderful person. I will say a special prayer for you tonight -- Cathy

Strike a chord
by: Anonymous

Hello there,
when I read your story, I felt I could relate in so many ways! I am also unwell and have become introverted, agoraphobic and anxious. What compounded the problem for me was when my co ( big boss, highly decorated and highly respected employee) labelled me a "complainer" I even have contemplated suicide and my family are wondering what happened to their bubbly, happy girl.

I want to let you know that I care about what has happened to you and that even though you probably wonder 'why me' that it was nothing wrong you did! Bullies are insecure and usually choose people who are highly skilled to be their targets. One day, the laws will change because this has a huge toll on life.

All the best to you. I hope you find a way to trust others and a way to feel free to be the great person you are.

Policies and Procedures ?
by: Anonymous

Policies and procedures are nothing but arbitrary nonsense, implemented to protect the status quo.
Does anybody care? Unfortunately the answer is, no.
Because if they did care, things would change, but since it's not happening to them, in reality, it doesn't exist.
Don't you think that most "professionals" understand the difference between what is right and what is wrong, when it comes to exercising interpersonal relationships? (that is a rhetorical question)
Do most people really need a document telling them how to "behave"? (also rhetorical)
Again, unfortunately policies and procedures are designed to control, because God forbid, someone might actually have a creative thought and a creative perspective that would require a complete revision.
Organizations are based on reward and punishment from the top down.
I guess, if there is any solace about how you are feeling, is that there are others who know how devastating being bullied is, and by being true to yourself, at least the bully only gets a hollow victory.
I for one do not trust anyone anymore, and that seems to be a very difficult hurdle, the ability to trust again.
You are not alone and if it means anything, sending positive energies your way.

Kindness is the cure
by: Woopie

Since submitting my story I have had such a lot of encouragement from friends and from you out there, perfect strangers, who also have had the misfortune of being the target of bullying. Thank you to those who took the time to comment and send kind thoughts and well wishes - and even prayers from Ireland - gosh! The thing that has struck me in this journey is how being validated like this has made me feel that I have contributed to something much bigger and much, much better. What I am reading in the press lately and seeing on the news are the results of 'kindness'. The wheel of change IS moving slowly and steadily forward. It is controlled and steady but it is moving in the right direction. The movement to make banks and churches accountable etc is driven by the expression of love and kindness! This is how those who suffer the most have the most to give. They know by their loss of it what kindness is! This may well be our real purpose! So if you are sick and injured and feel you have no purpose you have one now. Just think kind thoughts and send, send, send!

Final comment
by: Woopie

It has been a year since my last posting. You will be forgiven for thinking I was high on something then but I truly believe these positive thoughts and those like it saved my life!! In 4 years of battling severe stress and stress-related disorders due to neglect in my workplace I have managed to avoid ingesting anti-depressants to keep my serotonin levels up and this is quite a feat as you will see.
I am pleased to announce I was successful in my claim against my employer, HOWEVER, it was NOT for the case of bullying but for the health issues it caused - therefor protecting the bullies from being held accountable!
My workmates had no knowledge of the hardship I had suffered during that last 12 mths due to management's threats against anyone who contacted me. Already 3 times reduced, I found myself squeezed out of Workcover payments altogether and forced into poverty - and homelessness after losing the support of my family from the pressure.
I was videoed from behind bushes by private investigators and my medical records trawled for 'evidence' they could use to cast doubt on my psychological stability prior to my injury. I was sent to specialists - not for my rehabilitation but for the purpose of formulating evidence against me!! I was being treated like a criminal - and they had full authority to do so!
My doctor was being left out of the process deliberately so that they could surreptitiously bully me further at monthly workcover meetings even though I had medical certificates spanning months at a time. When I asked about the possibility of retraining they said they didn't do that and that it was their primary aim to have me return to my original workplace under my original contract - even though it was clearly unethical to do so.
I had no alternative but to fight on. I did get a payout in the end but it was a pathetic amount I am not permitted to divulge. Now I am unemployed and banned from applying for work in over 300 of their affiliated organisations. I am not fit to work in my usual capacity, I pay more rent than I get on welfare and I'm still not taking any psychiatric medication!!!
Oh and one final 'interesting' detail; while her name was being dragged through the mud in the tribunal process my manager received a coveted state award for her achievements in her field.
Try and figure that one out!

Final final comment
by: Woopie

There is one final thing I have to say.
Workplace injury is EVERYBODY'S problem. It is not just Workcover that has failed but the community at large. It is a problem that needs individual reflection and action. Everyone has to take responsibility for the care of others.
If you know of someone who is being bullied go to them and tell them you care for starters. Band together to support the person to find a solution. They are suffering on so many levels and we all have a responsibility to the suffering.
IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO!
Workcover is an insurance company. They are paid to get injured workers off their books. After 2 years the non-rehabilitated worker is the target of bullying again TO GET RID OF THEM. Retraining is not offered and they are left for dead.
Workers must unite and support the injured worker and MAKE THE SYSTEM WORK TO PROTECT THE WORKERS RIGHTS.
Not even the union saved me from humiliation giving me the wrong information which ultimately lead to my homelessness.
No, I am not depressed but suicide has always been an option and there is one thing I am sure about I will NEVER be homeless again. What does that mean? It means in my current circumstances I have about 12 months to live.
So come on, if I can be the face of bullying in the workplace SHOW ME you care?

To: Woopie
by: LB

Thank you for sharing what sounds like a very stressful and devastating bullying experience.

And as you are already aware of, that when you seek help as a last resort, from those in authority that are supposed to help, you basically end up with little or no intervention or assistance, or useless information.

It is my opinion that no one knows exactly what or how to treat targets of bullying, because by the time "authorities" get involved, one's reputation has already been destroyed, and the target is usually the most vulnerable, not a good time to be reliving the experience, so those that should help, see targets as just another complainer, which at least for me explains why there is zero empathy.

Targets not only suffer the indignity of being bullied, but also must "prove" they were bullied, and I don't need to tell you what that means, because you already know...too well.

Three years after my nightmare, I am still haunted by the experience, I just can't seem to wrap my head around what happened. When I go through all of the different abusive things I endured, I still can't believe how insidious the bully was, and yet, they are still where they were when I resigned, and I am still battling the demons and the financial and psychological devastation caused by this sociopath, that happened to be my boss.

Personally, I also know that contemplating suicide as an option, whether other targets would admit it or not, doesn't just happen, it is the process of personal introspection, and I for one don't think it is a selfish thought process, instead I think that after one has had an exceptionally bad bullying experience, the thought of suicide is a rather peaceful concept, not about killing oneself, but about never having to endure the constant debilitating pain and suffering.

The thing I find the most disgusting about bullies, is their complete and utter smugness, their self righteousness, their judgemental indignation, while at the same time pretending otherwise, in short, "hypocrites" of the worst kind.

I am not a religious person, but I once said to my bully, after years of abuse, innuendo, lies and false accusations, "judge not, lest ye be judged" they looked at me blankly, and then after a few seconds, put on the smug grin.

The intent of this message to you, is to let you know that your voice has been heard, and that there are other's like you who understand how you feel, and what you are dealing with on a daily basis.

My belief is that the only way to ever completely stop bullying/abuse, is to change the way humans perceive interpersonal relationships, by really treating other's with respect and common decency, until then, bullying will continue.

I hope this finds you in a better place.

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