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What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Teacher's Assistant Targeted by Bullies Asks "Why Me?"

I wonder if anyone out there can help me, I started work a few months ago in a school as a teaching assistant although I have done this work in another school, that closed for ten years.

I have tried to become part of the group but they make it clear that they do not want me there, they are all chatting together but when I appear the talking stops, I turned around on Friday to find one of them standing behind me gesturing about me and mouthing to six others in the group, I was so upset I never went back Friday afternoon. I called in to work to say I was sick three hours later my manager called to see why I was not in. I was still very upset on the phone. When I got home I was throwing up and having like a bad panic attack, I felt like I could not breath.

There has been many incidents like this since I started there a few months ago. I really don't understand why they do not like me, and why they are doing this. I am a single parent so really need to be able to go in to work on Monday but have no idea how I am going to to be able to do it, as I feel such a fool blubbering on the phone to my manager. I feel so weak and pathetic and wish I had not said anything at all. Even now I still feel so unwell and nauseous.

The only thing my manager said was that some people can be intimidated by intelligence and this is not right, and I expect to see you in work on Monday morning, after I had been there a few weeks I was requested by the head of school to support an intensive computer course that was going on in the school after this happened it got worse. I do not know why. I am always say good morning to everyone when I arrive and ask how everyone is etc, I can not believe how awful this is making me feel.

Any advice would be gratefully received.

Thank you

Comments for Teacher's Assistant Targeted by Bullies Asks "Why Me?"

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Targeted Teacher's Assistant
by: Anonymous

I feel your pain and wish I had quick answers. I know that in many bullying situations smart women really get hit extra hard. I, too, get a lot of attacks and in the past couple of years I learned about Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) -- self acupuncture on the meridians that control our panic, anxiety, stress, etc. I step into a private space to do the tapping as they certainly would not understand it and it would give their hateful ignorance more fodder. If I know I am walking into a difficult situation, before I leave home I prepare myself with a tapping sequence... it takes only about a minute. I can't say that it would help everyone, but a quick tapping session helps me remain more composed and able to deal with the situation with more clarity.

Trust Yourself and Your Instincts...
by: Anonymous

In your letter you ask for help with your situation, I am not one to tell others how they should behave, I believe in the axiom, "live and let live" But, like you, others are suffering at the hands of those that need to control and bully others.

Your description of your physical and mental reactions are typical of this abusive treatment.

Bullies are very good at detecting and destroying, sensitive souls, they can spot targets a mile away, they have natural homing devices that seek out their targets/victims.

Because you have realised this insidious treatment, you have begun the path to changing your perceptions. The only one who can change the situation is you, one can not change a bully.

Believe me I tried, and failed. It took me four years of abuse to finally realise the only option for me was to leave, that was the hardest professional decision I have ever made, I was quite happy with my job and my work, but the bully destroyed that. I kept thinking, "why would anyone want to willfully hurt another?"

I realised that bullies fear people who are not like them, and people who are good at their work, as for myself, bullies don't like it when someone else is successful and gets along with others naturally, genuinely, because they can't do that, they can only use subterfuge to aquire status, they don't possess integrity, and never will.

I know how much you are hurting at the moment, you feel sick at the thought of going back to your job, you feel alone and that no one really understands how this affects you, but believe me, you are not alone and because you are reaching out means that you recognise that this is wrong. This website is an excellent source for assistance and information to deal with this problem.

I wish I had the power to change bullies, but since I don't, I decided to begin feeling good about myself and to change the way I live. At first it's not easy, because the affects of bullying run deep and you keep questioning yourself, its like a vicious cycle that you can't get out of, but you can.

I don't know if this helps at all, but my only piece of advice is to trust yourself and your instincts, you made it this far, you can keep going, this is one of those life's hurdles that makes us stronger, and in some ways more tolerant.

I guess I would ask myself about my coworkers, "do I really want to work with these people?" It's hard, because it's also a question of money and a livelihood, and that's not easy to give up, since you work hard for it. Bullies don't care one iota about you, you just happen to be their target at the moment. If you leave, they will find another target, that's all they know how to do. They don't have any real relationships with others, because they are sociopathic and derive their existence out of controlling others.

No one deserves to be abused by others.

Good luck!

by: Anonymous

This site here is a tremendous resource. I love it! But please also try out the late Tim Field´s www.bullyonline.org He inspired and informed many people worldwide about the bullying phenomenon and as other guests before me have pointed out: bullies love to bend and crack soft and sensitive souls. This site also contains detailed information on psychopaths / sociopaths. These are not only serial killers but "normal" people like neighbors, bosses, shop owners, spouses in our lives. As tough as it might be but I do encourage you to read this and familiarize yourself with the "evil" side of people. I was naive before but as an experienced international manager didn´t believe myself to be naive. But there is people out there without conscience who enjoy humiliating and breaking you just for the cat-and-mouse sake of it. Or the malign end of the narcissist spectrum: those folks are very insecure and crave for attention while hating it if others fare better at ANYTHING compared to them. They are driven by jealously and envy. Not everybody is that way but people weaker than them might be willing or unwittingly their instruments. It is group pressure (check wikipedia), you might also check out Phil Zimbardo´s website lucifereffect.com (he is or was head of the US psychologist association I think and ran the Stanford Prison Experiment showing that people in groups and "systems" can do the most horrific things because they just go with the flow). He has some good hints on behavioral compliance automatisms as well as some good healing and withstanding manipulation advice.

Best from some other continent,
*just me*

[Editors Note:] Tim Field is a hero to many, including myself, and I was fortunate enough to have corresponded with him before his passing. He is missed.
- Anton Hout

by: Anonymous

I see this post was written a long time ago but I hope you have sorted this out by now and that you feel much better.

I find that one must either have a thick skin or one must leave such a dreadful place immediately. It's tough to decide. My encounters were brutal. I decided to keep quiet because feared other bullies would zoom in on me if I spoke up. My instincts were correct, some others started to harass and trash me when I came forward. So from the start I knew the game: keep quiet and take the abuse, or get out of there. The smug look on my bully's face was actually what made me stay. I wanted to be a tough girl. I was almost there but didn't quite make it to my goal. Maybe I should have taken responsibility for my choice, but ultimately the whole situation was not unbearable, it was just ugly, ugly beyond belief. And that's why I quit.

They are like the mean girls
by: Me Too

The other TAs prob have been working there awhile and have a little mean girl group going on. Been there and done that. Also people pick up very quickly on someone who really needs a job (you being a single parent and having to put up with this nonsense). I actually was in a similar job for 8 miserable years - as a single parent and I was considered "different" by the other teachers and TAs. It is really sad how badly grown adults who are supposed to be professionals can behave. Your bosses attitude is typical - it is somehow the victims fault (it isn't). It is no different than the victim on the playground being bullied and being told about sticks and stones will break your bones but words don't harm you - but words DO! harm.

How painful
by: susan

I too understand the feeling of being ridiculed behind your back. I not only have had that happen to me at work, but in my own family as well - with step-kids of mine that I do love them anyway, but they have harder personalities and do not understand sensitive people or kindness. It is so painful to catch people making faces or mocking you.

I understand your physical response of hurt and being sick. Kind people can be shocked by evilness.

All the previous responses to your entry are excellent comments - I wish mine made more sense, but am very tired. I have been reading everyone's stories on this site for hours now - I wish I had the energy to respond to all. Bless you all.

I Used to Have Behavior Problems
by: Leanne

That must've been pretty hard on you!!! If they're good people, they might feel bad about it later. Now, that's not to say I've never done anything like that (I actually have). In 6th grade, I used to be SO mean to my one on one aide at school, that I would sometimes make her cry! Now that I'm older, I feel REALLY bad about what I did! I have Asperger Syndrome (high-functioning end of Autism Spectrum) and ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), and that can make social situations harder for me, because I don't know what's appropriate to do or say. My disabilities also make it harder for me to think about other people's feelings. Maybe some of those kids who were bullying you had Asperger Syndrome (or another mild form of Autism) or ADHD (or both).

bullied at work place
by: Anonymous

hi I have the same problem in my work place and I try to ignore it but its has been recently not good and I am worried because in march we are having new contract and I need this job I have spoken to union and they said you need to speak to head first and see what action she takes but head was bit not taking very serious and then she put me off from training which she thinks I did not need it which indicates that she is giving me chance to leave the job or just be quite and keep doing the work. I am strong women with lots of self-confidence and I do not scared all this bull shit but I keep doing my best and not giving the bullies the chance to weak me and my dedication with my work.

Bullied teachers assistant
by: Anonymous

I have just recently become a teachers assistant around various schools and i have experienced isolation from the other teachers aides as they either see me as a threat to them not getting extra hours or wanting someone they know on the staff instead of me. I was abused because a kindergarten student i was looking after lost her hat but it was during lunch when I wasnt with this child... but of course the assistant that was with child at lunch denied hat went missing with her so obviously i am the one telling lies...

Learn the methods
by: gsehi

Learn about the methods that bullies use. If they apply a method, then think of the name of the method. For example, victim blaming, directed conversation, sensitization. The attack will then lose much of its effect.

Similar situation
by: Anonymous

I'm in a similar situation. I was a substitute long-term teacher's assistant and instead of getting bullied by the staff, I was getting harassed by the students.
I left that position and they asked me to come back as a 1 on 1 aide with a student in those same classes. I'm back and continuing to be bullied by the students. I'm 32, but they treat my like a student, have ZERO respect and constantly harass and disrespect me.
The reason I left the first job was that the teacher I was working with didn't defend me at all. She did nothing and sat by while the students treated me like shit.
The kid I'm a 1 on 1 aide for now is very sweet, but I'm still in the same classes with his peers who disrespect me. Today the teacher I worked with saw the kids harassing me and still did nothing.
I've talked to the school counselor of one particular kid who disrespects and harasses me the most and one of his other teachers who has threatened to take away privileges, but he still did it after the talk.
I have one more week in this position... maybe more, but I don't know if I can handle it. No one should be bullied; kid, adult, black, white, man, woman -- no one.
I'm so very sorry this is happening to you, but I know how you feel. It's really disheartening when you need the job to provide for your family, but asshole people make it almost impossible.
Praying for you.

Where do we go
by: Lizzie

I too feel Paraeducators are made to feel that they really don't matter. I can give numerous accounts on Assistants being misused in the workplace. The question is what can we do about it? What will we do to help each other overcome these workplace disparities? It is not just the obvious bullying, it's the targeting and singling out that I don't like. In my school district, all classified employees clock in and out. Certified teachers are not required to do that. Yet they have challenges with being late or leaving early. Certified/ Assistants are at a far greater risk of being reprimanded for this infraction then and other classification specifically if the teacher supports don't like them. Our Union likes to use the word "discretion" which simply put makes our contract of no use to use at all.

This happened to me
by: Anonymous

I had worked for years in your position. I never understood the smiles and then silent treatment, the intense glances and the very teacher I worked with going through my bag to check the contents.
After leaving my job I got to know that I was labelled a pedophile! That even my colleagues had been asked to spy on me.
Once the administrator walked into the lunchroom and we had started having a discussion about lactose intolerance. I said I I was lactose intolerant. The administrator told me that because most of my race is lactose intolerant, we have a higher tolerance to criminal behaviour/activity!
I can’t offer any advice but I can tell you that the best decision I made was to find another better paying job. I’m so glad not only do I feel validated at my workplace but I’m happy I left when I did.

Same Situation
by: Anonymous

My Line Manager (teacher I report to) definitely has these tendencies.

My mother is a Senior Teacher and also my best friend, and someone I have disclosed this too and in her own words, she has seen bullying of Teacher Aides/Assistants across a variety of primary and secondary schools.

Even more disturbing is that she described it as largely ignored due to demand for teachers. Further, the teachers who are bullying tend to think they are intellectually superior to the Aide according to what they have told my mother when she has confronted them over the years. My mother has attempted to report the bullying of Aides/Assistants and it has ultimately fallen on deaf ears because the bullying tends to occur, in my mother's personal experience, from the Heads of Departments (which is also true in my own case).

The irony is I have 5 university degrees, nearly finished my degree to become a teacher AND am looking at moving into a PhD and into education leadership, so it is a very big possibility I end up these bully's supervisor and this view of intellectual superiority based on rank is laughable at best, particularly when those who conduct the bullying studied their degree when university was 100% free in my country for a brief period and not very difficult to get into.

In summary, this is an epidemic clearly. The fact it occurs across so many different institutions around the world to the exact same position in schools is disgusting.

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