As a therapist I witness the symptoms of trauma experienced by targets of bullying far too often. Here are some of my thoughts on this workplace reality.
There are some people who act out with bullying behaviors who can indeed improve their skills, gain self-insight, change and do much better in their workplace. And there are those who are incapable. Imagine a seasoned psychologist who is a narcissist/psychopath in a management position. He will have many skills to disguise and cloak his abusive behaviors based on his training in humanities. Next, imagine him gaining anti- bullying coaching tips during his mandatory professional development courses. Now his repertoire is lethal.
Add a CEO (male nurse) into the mix who is has never recovered from a mobbing experience where 5 nurses bullied him out of his previous position. The CEO is cunningly manipulated and feels sorry for the bully manager and believes every word the bully is saying. Now add a new HR representative, one who has to prove herself. She is aggressive and determined and will step on anyone who gets in her way.
The target(s) cannot win. The target is in serious danger. The target will not be protected.
The target turns to their last hope, the union. They are told that there is nothing they (WCB, Human Rights, or Labour Relations) can do without a witness. Witnesses do not feel confident or safe to come forward. No one will touch such a mess.
The target is alone. This is the reality that most targets of this abuse face today.
For any hope to change this complex situation, we will require medical, legal, mental health, and sometimes criminal expertise. How likely are we to obtain a clinical diagnosis and behavioral assessment from any of these bullies? Until they are caught, or someone dies, they will simply continue to diminish people and remain protected by their employer. In addition, how can a target of bullying afford to cover the costs of their legal fees? Counselling fees? Medications? Again they suffer as their bullies continue to work unscathed, and promoted.
I work with many cases of complex workplace bullying trauma. Many of my clients describe their experience as psychological rape. Their symptoms certainly are consistent with this description. Workplace bullying is similar to sexual assault and/or domestic violence. Those who are harmed are shamed and blamed into silence. It will take many professions banding together to resolve this epidemic. Specialized teams are necessary to address these complex cases. Investigators, specialized assessments, workplace bullying (on site) coaches, and workplace bullying therapist.
We are doing our best to offer these resources to targets, bystanders, employers, and those who are acting out with abusive (bullying) behaviors.
Linda R. Crockett, Founder of instituteofworkplacebullyingresources.ca