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What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Bullies Rob Your Self-Esteem Unless You Trust Yourself

by Dawn Morningstar
(Carbondale, IL)

After my divorce I left Colorado and lived temporarily in Texas near my mother where I worked at JCPenney. I soon became the target of three young hairstylists.

I kept being polite to them but they were telling the Manager I picked fights with them when she was away. I was reprimanded even though I had witnesses to the contrary.

I was sprayed with a water-bottle by one stylist and I playfully sprayed her back whereby I was reprimanded for that.

Several women told me that the young girls were jealous of my 12yrs experience and the "daring" to charge higher prices. $45/haircut in CO but, lowered my price to the high end of JCPenney's $20-$25/haircut in Texas.

Then one day the Manager came and asked me into a room with a female police officer. I was told to sign a paper to resign or be fired and asked to empty out my chair/desk. 11 women stood with me outside and waited for my Mother to pick me up. They said they were trying to show solidarity for what they thought was unfair mistreatment. I was very appreciative for their friendship and support.

Then, it happened again in Illinois after I returned to college at SIUC but that is another story.

Comments for Bullies Rob Your Self-Esteem Unless You Trust Yourself

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Breaking the Cycle?
by: Anonymous

As a target of workplace mobbing I know how it feels - and since I am still in the situation - I suffer almost every single day. What I am wondering about is that it seems to be a repeated occurance with most people who are bullied / mobbed. You mention being bullied more than once - and I know that I have also been bullied many times before (as you teenager, a young woman and now as a professional in my mid 40ies).

I've tried soul searching and professional support - but time and time again - people seem to creep out of the woodwork of my life, target me and bully me.

Is there a professional out there - or somebody reading this who can perhpas shed some light on WHY some people are more likely to be mobbed or bullied than others?

What I do know (from very careful observation of my colleagues) that those who are in the "in crowd" and often the bullies themselves are very adept at politically positioning themselves in a positive light. They always seem to be set up for success - while I seem always to be on somebody's hit list. If I succeed - then it's either somebody else's success (and somehow I either stole it or am made invisible while they claim the success) or if this is not possible - I am scorned along with the success. WHY?

I really hope somebody out there is reading this and can comment. Are there courses a person can take? Reading or something that will change or at best - end this cycle?? I know I am not a bad, unkind, selfish, cruel person. I am of average looks and am intelligent, outgoing and generous. Mostly I'm happy (except for the bullying) and I don't stick out - so why am I a target?

Please help ...

Response for "Breaking the Cycle"
by: Dawn Morningstar

It is NOT your fault. Counselors told me I "must be doing something to attract the bullies" but I have discovered that an estimated 46% of American adults experience some type of diagnosable mental illness or substance-abuse disorder during their lifetime, according to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication.

Therefore, if 46% of the people you meet have something wrong with them, is it any wonder that one of them is going to be mistreating others??

Our culture will someday realize that bullying is not something that little kids grow out of nor "is needed to toughen (targets) up", but it is actually symptoms of widespread, mental illness. Most violent criminals were bullies as children!

What helps me is that when some insecure maladjusted person starts trying to create chaos in my life, I just envision them with asylum bars around their head and try to stay clear of them as I would any sick/violent person.

Bullies are insecure people who manipulate in order to compensate for their lack of feelng successful in doing things the sincere, thoughtful or compassionate way. It is hard to accept that they are really just sick people who deserve our sympathy, compassion and SPACE!!

Bullies jealously fixate upon someone they see as having more happiness than they do. They believe they have to provoke our inadequacies to the surface. If we let them make us mad, then it helps their manipulative plan to try & make us feel as miserable as they feel.

It is NOT your fault when someone feels jealous and insecure by your competence or happiness. Just trust your own goodness and try to stay out of their way. Even psychologists and psychiatrists have learned to stay clear of narcissists and psychopaths but they don't counsel us to do that because they make a lot more money by keeping us in their offices, taking ineffective anti-depressants for all the pain caused by the bullies.

I saw a T-shirt the other day that said, "I used to care but now I take a pill for that."

I hope this helps.
Be Safe and Heal soon!!

Been Bullied Many Times
by: Anonymous

I have been bullied many times, high school, I was a little, but was very popular, and nice to people even the popular kids didn't socialize with, because that's the kind of person I am.

I think that sometimes, when we are 'Nice" to others, they take that as a sign of weakness, and they treat us badly and as a door mat. So Now, instead of being nice to everyone, I am pleasant, but I have my intuition, and I know that if someone is going to use me or not, and I basically get them out of my life.

I don't mind helping people out of a bad situation, but if they are going to turn that around on me, and make me look bad for no reason, then I don't want to be around that particular person.

I have had 2 friend's quite recently, that did a few things, and said alot of things they shouldn't have, and basically I had to call off the friendship, even though I really didn't want to, because it was eating away at my self image, and own stability as a person.

Friends, always lift you up, don't bad mouth you, and are there for you in the best of times and the worst of times.

I would caution people about making friends at jobs, unless they know them pretty well, because that's some of the problems that I had.

Mobbing at the Supermarket.
by: Sarah

I have an unusual story, as I was a customer being bullied by two supermarket employees. I always used to like going to my local supermarket. That was until a few years ago when a new checkout assistant arrived at the place.

She was rude to me at first, so I started to avoid her till. She would also ignore me, freeze me out or walk away whenever I needed help with opening the bags. She got another womam to join in with her and they both began staring me out and giving me 'hate' looks whenever they walked past. Neither would either of them talk to me.

Only last week did I summon up the courage to complain to the Management, and they said they would phone me back. But they never did.

I no longer go there during the day when they are there. I choose a different time to shop.

I tried getting support from my husband but today he accused me of being 'paranoid.' But I know what has been going on, because they have been doing it for years.

I am sick and tired of bullies in my life. I know I am quiet and not given to aggression, but I don't deserve this kind of abuse every time I go somewhere.

Thankfully I am self employed nowadays, so I guess the only place left for this 'evil' to reach me is outside my place of work.
I will just have to avoid other people as much as I can, depressing as that may sound.

WHY? Breaking the Cycle, by anonymous
by: LB

Why ?

That is an excellent question.

Why does anybody do anything ?

I think you answered your own question.

You stand out simply because you don't stand out.

That is, bullies home in on others who, at least in the bully's mindset, are "different", and difference doesn't need to be race, or ethnicity, it need only be that which is not like them.

And you are not like them. You treat others with respect and civility. You have personal integrity, and that the bully can't stand.

Why do you stand out? Because you forge genuine relationships with people built on trust, bully's do not understand compassion or empathy. They need to control others, and if they can't, they bully. That is all they know.

In my opinion, the system has created the agressive, bully office culture which is really a mirror of society.

The system is based on reward and punishment. Just look at who the culture rewards and who it punishes... that should tell you all you need to know about what is valued and what isn't.

One thing that helped me to regain some of my sanity, after the initial shock and trauma that I experienced, was to begin to look at the people and the system from the perspective of an anthropologist studying and researching a "culture", and the inhabitants in their native environment.

See how they use their limited skills to manipulate that which they have little control over and that which they can control. You will begin to see the patterns of their existence and how their main purpose is to remain in their comfort zones, whether it has to do with food, clothing, shelter or ego.

Most people react to stimulus, some reflect before reacting. My guess is that you reflect first, that usually is a signal to bullies, because that they do not understand it and it stands out.

I realise, believe me, the difficulty in dealing with the constant irrational, illogical onslaught everday. It takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to intentionally force yourself to engage in a toxic environment while trying to maintain any semblance of normalcy at your job.

The very fact that you are asking questions and reaching out is one way to break the cycle. Because you are saying, this is wrong and I don't accept it. I know it takes every last bit of physical and emotional energy, but, in the long term, you will preserve the one thing bully wants, for you to capitulate. Bullying is so devastating, and if you have been bullied, then you understand how it poisons the soul.

There are others like you who suffer and feel the pain, as for myself, removing bully from my life, and trying to get back to the person I need to be, required resigning.

Break the cycle by being true to your self and trusting your instincts and intuitions. It will require some time and perhaps some savings, but in the long term you will come out of this insane situation with your heart intact.

The world needs more sensitive, caring people like you.

What bullies don't want you to know!
by: Anne-Marie

Bullies don't want others to know they themselves, feel deep down they have low self-esteem or lower self-esteem than their victims.

When bullies bully others, they are actually showing they have insecurities & weakness, & bully others to make themselves feel better. Often bullies are jealous of their victims, usually because they are happier than they actually are!

They try to make up excuses to justify/convince themselves, others & mostly their victims, their victims deserve it. DON'T BELIEVE THEM... Nobody can make you feel a certain way, unless you let them.

Bullies are actually cowards!

Serial targets....
by: Anonymous

Why do some people get repeatedly bullied? I have asked myself that question a million times over the years? I have done a lot of soul searching and re-evaluation; of my personality, my looks, by behaviour in front of others.

What I have found is a woman who is for the most part, a very quiet individual who doesn't engage in gossip. I am also gentle natured and a little shy. I am also a little 'unusual' looking and look younger for my age (so I've been told). I am 48 years old. I am also a 'slimmish' 8 stone 7 pounds with reddish-brown hair.

Do all these things make me a target? I cannot be sure. But one thing's for sure. It's happening again, and this time in the community rather than the workplace.

Personally I put it down to 'evil' forces in my life. Since I now work for myself and no longer in a company setting, these 'forces' are now trying to reach me outside the workplace.

Forgive me, but I have become so fatalistic about my own situation.

My theory may sound too outlandish for some, but I believe in the power of evil and I think that it tries to target some people more than others. By the way, although I am not religious, I am convinced that such negative forces exist and are at large in the world.

Finally, if the gossips with their 'gaslighting' sneers want to get rid of me, they'll have to put a gun to my head and pull the trigger. Other than that, I am staying put.

To: Anonymous/Serial Targets
by: Lar

I happen to agree with your sentiments and also feel that there are negative/evil energies that exist in the universe.

I also feel that there are some people who are very intune and sensitive to the slightest differences in the equilibrium of these energies, or whatever name you give it, and can sense the most minute vibrations.

Your integrity shines through, and as you are aware, sometimes it is very difficult to separate the force from the person, especially when it is directed at you.

If one happens to be the target of a bully, usually, the first question the target asks themselves is, "why me?"

Bullies attack that which exposes their nature whether intended or not, it is the bully's perception of fear and dread that drives their need to control others they perceive as a threat.

You are a threat to the bully, because you have integrity, its like a magnet to bullies, and they hate others for having it, therefore it must be destroyed.

My personal opinion is that the only way to defeat evil is not to feed it, it needs your positive energies to survive, just like bullies.

I find it ironic that evil requires positive energy to exist, so it destorts the truth to thrive.

Let your heart be your guide, because that is where the truth lives.

Being quiet and sensitive and not imposing your beliefs on others is very difficult to maintain in an aggressive culture, but, by being that person in the face of adversity, is like a force field. They may abuse and attack, but they will never usurp the one thing they want from you, your integrity.

That may sound trite, but bullies fear integrity.

Sending positive energies your way.

Beware the mentally ill
by: Morningstar

I have found that bullies usually fit the the psychological profile for psychopaths and/or narcissists. According to U.S. Statistics, if you meet 10 people in one day, 3 of them are likely to be a psychopath or a pathological narcissist! Add the Bi-polar, PTSD, Obsessive-Compulsive, ADHD, Depression, etc. then a WHOPPING 47% of the population is mentally ill!!!

Check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

I have finally realized that I suffer from the irrational assumption that everyone I meet wants to be rational and logical. I am now learning how to protect myself from the mentally sick "bullies" just as I would, say for example, a thief who is trying to rob me.

Take care and be well!!

repeatedly being targeted
by: susan

I too have been singled out over the years in many situations - work - and even in stores, salons, etc.
I think that bullies target kind people. And people who want to please others. Bullies think kindenss and gentleness are a weakness that they can exploit. I have often noticed that some people get annoyed the more i try to be nice.
I think this one of the main reasons that bullies target the same people over and over.
Also - i believe that bullies "test" many people all the time, but a lot of people are able to immediately respond with aggression of their own which fends off the bully because bullies are such cowards. I think though that people with a more gentle and kind approach to life or are simply conditioned to be nice and polite find themselves at a loss to respond. Many people are not conditioned to hostility and not comfortable with confrontation. I know that I'm not.
When bullies are not met with open challenges back to them, then they attack.

Over it!!!
by: Ally

I wonder if there is a book out there that could help people stop being targets for this devastating behaviour in all areas of their life.
I have been bullied all my life from my father, brothers and at school I was bullied for having red hair then bullied for having crooked teeth. Now I'm blonde with straight teeth I get bullied for being 'a blonde' I have been bullied in work places, sexually harrassed and just harassed generally and now family members are also taking part. I am constantly taken advantage of. Some work collegues say it's because I'm too nice but sticking up for myself doesn't seem to work either. When I was young (apart from family) I was bullied because of my looks and when I got older I was desperate to look good but even looking good is a target for bullies!! Am so over it, being bullied from all directions it is so upsetting and I just don't know how to stop it!!

How To Deal With Workplace Bullies: What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Fresh Insight... thank you!
by: Anonymous

I can relate to the "bully magnet" title and have found tremendous comfort in the comments posted by others. I feel as if I have been bullied for a goodly part of my life - as a child with ADHD, as an adult at work, as a student in college/graduate school, and even to a certain extent as an intern in my current internship.

Indeed, bullies do rob one's self-esteem... I have allowed them to rob mine! I never before considered the fact that it could be my competence, my talents, my professionalism, my moral character that these bullies perceive as threatening. Thank you SO MUCH to those of you who pointed this out!! It has given me fresh insight. I have been told over the years "you're too sensitive," "you care too much about others," "your standards are too high." And I've wondered why others don't seem to have the same "people problems" that I have.

I am currently working toward my MSW and will be graduating in May 2012. For two years, I have had to work in groups and, for each project, the same young woman seems to wind up in my group. For each project, her contributions have been continually sub-par: submitted late, without the necessary material, and containing errors. I don't know how it happens, but I end up being the one having to review her work and correct it (at the expense of my own work and getting sleep!). I recently made the mistake of confronting her on her work only to be pathologized by her, portrayed by her to others as having "issues." Sadly, she has many friends in the program who back her. I'm both shocked and saddened by what seems to be the bully's support (by other mental health professionals) and that it's happening to me again. In an ironic twist, our most recent project was on creating an effective bullying law!!

It seems like I just can't seem to get away from these people. If I'm not portrayed as problematic, I'm rebuffed by them. Even at my internship, I go in every day with a cheerful attitude and a willingness to learn, only to be rebuffed by the program director (not given work, information, and ignored).

As a result of these ongoing experiences, I feel tremendous social anxiety to the point of dreading professional networking events and even dating. I have questioned my own sanity (e.g. is it me? is this really happening? am I making a big deal out of nothing?) and have felt ashamed (like I'm some defect). After spending a great deal of money on therapy over the years trying to find out what's wrong with me, this website has helped me to consider that perhaps it's about what's right with me!

I appreciate having an outlet to share about my experiences. It helps to know that I'm not alone.

Bullying and insight
by: Lisa

I too have finally figured what is attracting at least one person to bully me in every environment I enter. I now see a pattern.

One event was a "therapist in training" group in which I was a participant, one was a church group, one was a crime victims group, one was a career counseling group. I have also been bullied in work environments. In all of these scenarios, even though life is tough for me too, I've been viewed has highly professional, intelligent, kind, dynamic, and friendly. I emote positive energy. I noticed I had more experience than most of these group participants so, I downplay it so as not to create too much distance so we can get through the event comfortably.

I also have integrity, and a strong moral and ethical code (not religious at all, just moral and ethical) which I was raised to have. When the "bully" (and we'll give them just one generic identity) saw me, felt me emotionally, she then began to bully. It starts with a stare. Then the bully will approach me. She will try to be friendly to get closer. Then she will start to provoke by skewing my surrounding relationships. She will gossip externally, take a little bit of truth and expand on it to create a negative perception. She will come back to me continually to get more information, even seemingly innocuous information. She will ask me questions repeatedly that I have already answered.

I also have been told it must be my fault these things happen until I ran into a really good therapist working at the college, of all places. She said, "If you are perceived as someone at a higher developmental level than those in your group, someone will project their anger, their unhappiness, their jealousy, their envy on to you." She then went on to say, "I would not never enter a group. There is too much projection. You have to be very, very skilled as a therapist/facilitator to identify it when it is happening. There are not too many people in my field who have that ability."
So, there you go. As someone on this blog said, it was something I was doing right, not wrong. That's what is triggering the bullying. Silly me.

Vancouver Island

Work Place Bullies
by: Anonymous

Once a target always a target. But you don't have to be a victim.

Workplace bullies are empowered by the supervisor. Otherwise, the bully would not be there. If there is workplace bully where you work, he is doing the supervisor's (silent bully) dirty work. Sometimes, the bully is the nicest guy in the room. He is the charming bully.

If you are going to make a complaint, make a police report. Do not go to management. Go out side the company. Go to the police station and ask to speak to a detective. Remember. This is not about your job performance. Or the inner office politics, this is about someone using enough physical force to cause you fear of bodily harm. Be calm. Be intelligent. Be concise. Be professional. And go with the intention of learning how to file a criminal charge against the bully. They will tell you, nothing can be done until a crime is committed. Bullying is a crime.

Look for another job . . . immediately. Do not waste your time dodging or dealing with the bully. Unless you can afford expensive lawyers, there is nothing you can do to put the "bully boss" and his thugs out of business. If you are ever physically assaulted, by mere touch or more, immediately call the police and have the absolute resolve to follow through to prosecution.

If you can't or won't leave, know the rules of conduct and business functions, and have concrete unbiased proof of wrong doing on the bully's part. Keep a pocket sized voice activated recorder with you at all times. Make double sure that your conduct is excellent, your co-worker relationships are excellent, and that your work habits and performance exceeds all standards.

If you can't deliver the knock out punch with the first punch, leave. You won't get any support before you make a complaint nor during nor after . . . even if you win. No one will ever trust you and you will always be seen as a traitor. The bully may be a dirty coward, but so are all the other employees. Favor in the workplace, translates to continued employment and that's a paycheck.

You are the target, not because you are pretty or smart or a threat, its you because it is everyone in the workplace and at school and in the home . . . you just aren't cooperating with the bully and this isolates you with estrangement from your co-workers who do cooperate with the bully.

The smart move is to walk away from the workplace, the friend, the spouse or the family whose lives support bullying. Stop trying to figure out the mystery. There is no mystery to it. There are more selfish self serving jerks than you can imagine. And if they aren't the bully, they enjoy watching the bully do his dirty work. Most people are screwed up. It is a really bad workplace almost every where you go. Keep searching for the workplace that fits your ethics.

Not when the bully is friends with the police
by: Dawn

Sadly i DID make a police report at a job i was working where the boss was the bully, 3 reports and when she got fired i got laid off because with the warning that one "can't just leave their desk and go to the police!" when they are being punched and cussed as i was. Later they tried to trump up false charges and the public defender insisted that i should take a plea bargain because i couldn't win, but i stuck to my guns, requested another defender and the bogus charges were dropped.
Hint: When the bully is friends with the police and the local gov't, even going to the authorities can be a crime.

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