In the book, Bully in Sight How to predict; resist, challenge and combat workplace bullying, Overcoming the silence by which abuse thrives, Tim Fields describes workplace bullying as an accumulation of small incidents which slowly grow over an extended period. As those of us that have been bullied know, bullying occurs usually, when one person or many persons in positions of power or authority feel threatened by someone else or a subordinate that displays qualities or abilities which the bully believes he/she can never possess.
Workplace Bullying is the repeated mistreatment of one employee targeted by one or more employees with a malicious mix of humiliation, intimidation, and sabotage of performance. Bullying crosses the boundaries of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and age. Mobbing is a form of workplace/abuse. Simply put it is when a bully enlists co-workers to plot against an unsuspecting target utilizing psychological warfare. Targets of mobbing are generally part of or from an organizational norm with the following characteristics:
- Women (between the ages of (42-63)
- Ethnicity varies
Professional and personal research coupled with verbal and written testimonies led me to conclude the act of mobbing is most common in the professions: education, nursing, social work, women in male dominated professions (construction, courts, postal service, boiler room, and or factory work) predominately with male staff. This is not to say it does not happen to men. I have read and interviewed several men who were bullied, mainly in the fields of education and postal services.
Bullying and abuse in the workplace often lead the target down a path of darkness. A path paved with post-traumatic stress syndrome, deep depression and other psychological and physical problems. For many onlookers watching their colleague, this is foreign and incomprehensible. However, for the target, it is real and polarizing- something I personally and professionally experienced. This experience, while horrific, forced me to face many truths that had lain dormant for many years.
These battles lasted nearly five years. My struggles reminded me that in darkness there is light, and out of belief in one’s self comes empowerment, commitment, courage, and strength. It also reminded me of the heroine, Anne Frank, and the introduction written by Eleanor Roosevelt in the novel, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. This particular statement made a profound impression.
“Living in constant fear and isolation, imprisoned not only by the terrible outward circumstances of war but inwardly by themselves, made me intimately and shockingly aware of war’s greatest evil the degradation of the human spirit. Despite the horror and the humiliation of their daily lives, these people never gave up. Anne herself and most of all, it is her portrait which emerges so vividly and so appealingly from this matured very rapidly in these two years, the crucial years from thirteen to fifteen in which change is so swift and so difficult for every young girl.”
The courage and strength of Anne Frank and others who faced persecution should remind us that out of evil comes good and out of the darkness there soon comes light. Do not surrender your power. Turn it into empowerment. Find the Anne Frank in you, and have the courage to combat that which tries to draw you into darkness and break your spirit.
While I use Anne and her story as an analogy, I admit that while my torment was not as vile and evil as that of the Holocaust, it was a battle. It nearly cost me life-something I hold precious. While a mob of bullies tormented me, I did not help the situation by beating up on myself. I implore you to stop bullying yourself. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and help you face truths in positive and supportive ways. Get help from professionals if you need it. Do not be ashamed. End the denial today.