Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Hidden Dynamics of Workplace Abuse

We've travelled a long distance since I started this blog in what? 2012. We've seen a lot of different destinations, roads and paths in that time.  This one in Scotland, I've posted before, but it seemed like a good one for today.
I am finding this blog at times incredibly challenging to write as there are times when it is necessary to go back into a dark time in my life.  A time where darkness dwelt.  A time of incredible stress.

Yet, I feel the need to write about this topic which has intertwined itself so deeply into my life.

To regain not only my voice, but the voice of all those faceless, nameless, voiceless others who have been trampled in the workplace by bullying.

Why?  Why me?

Why indeed?

Maybe because I've always been an open person.  Even in the workplace when the abuse was on-going, I was open about it.  I admitted that it was happening.

That is not a smart idea.  The abusers do not want anyone to say bad things about them.  HR listened at first, but then as the abuse continued and escalated, HR closed ranks against me.  The original supervisor solved the problem (at least for her) in her own way ... by becoming friends inside and outside of work with the bullies.  Thus, adding one more member to the clique.  To the adversaries.  An influential member at that.  One who could no longer fairly and objectively deal with her part of running the business.  A conflict of interest.  But a conflict of interest which no one was able to recognize or deal with.

My concerns were continually blown off as "perceptions and assumptions".  Meaning valueless.  Having no substance or merit.

When management made changes and there was a change in supervisors, the abuse continued. My new supervisor had been my 2 up, supervising my former supervisor.  She was not only my 1 up now, but she had heard all the stories, from the viewpoint of me former supervisor.  Her former supervisee.

The change I had hoped would happen, did not.

The relief I longed for was short-lived.  Lasting approximately a nanosecond.

A new barrage started immediately.

I thought if I kept going, if I kept working on my issues, if I revealed who I truly was inside, not the made-up version of others' perception of who I was, I would eventually get her to come around and see me for who I really am.

That did not happen.

The other voices were too loud.  To insistent.  Too insidious.  Too compelling

Too .....


Post bullying, I have discovered others like myself lurking in the shadows of on-line groups.  While the specifics differ among our various stories, the commonalities are all too consistent.

So is the confusion.  The fear.  The trauma.  The questions:  "Why  me?"  "What did I do to deserve this treatment?"

Some are able to move on - at least a bit.  Most are not.  Most are stuck.  Not by choice, but by circumstance.

Many wonder if they will ever work again as they not only deal with the incredible damage workplace bullying has done to their self-esteem but with practical issues as well, ssuch as:  "What do I say in an interview?";  "If I find a new job, will it happen again?";  "I have no references, will anyone hire me without them?"; "Who can I use as a reference?" The list goes on and on and on.

Then there's the issue of on-going disabilities or as I like to call them "altered abilities" which the victim often faces post workplace abuse.  Some develop diagnosed diseases.  Others, like myself, lurk in the nether land of undiagnosable disabilities.  A decade or more ago, I would have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue.  But that diagnosis has gone out of vogue, so I - and others like me - are left in limbo land.  A land of incredible, undiagnosed, unrecognized challenges and disabilities.

We face innumerable challenges from both inside and outside as we attempt to pick ourselves off the floor, boot marks all over us, and move on.

As I continue the process of recovery, I feel the need to stand up, to be counted, to speak for those who at this point in time do not feel like they can speak for themselves.

To me, the only way to confront workplace bullying is to get it out of the office, get it out of the recesses of the net and put it into the open.  To put faces to the faceless.

This blog is, hopefully, my first step in getting this critical issue out in the open.

Until tomorrow ....

Looking backward, or rather down as in this photo taken at a bird sanctuary on South Padre Island, Texas in 2010, we can see more clearly where we've been.  What it looks like.  I had not idea when I was walking this particular path what it actually looked like.  I was too busy taking pictures and experiencing the journey.  So it is with the journey of workplace abuse.  At the time it's happening, we're too busy surviving to see it clearly.

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