I’ve had to think a long time before I felt ready to write this one. Workplace abuse happens quite often and it can be anywhere from subtle to extreme. Before we go any further on this, lets define what abuse is. Basically abuse is mistreatment or misuse of a person, in this case employee or even business partner. Abuse most of the time is about control. Someone feels like their life is out of control and so to feel they have order they control others. Sometimes abuse has to do with envy or jealousy. The abuser feels like they are less than or feels another might not deserve the accolades they are receiving from others. It can be jealously of success. For instance one business partner is making more progress than the other for a company.
Regardless of the reason, any abuse or mistreatment makes life miserable for those who are in the receiving side. Abuse can occur from one person in management or it can occur in a a group form called “mobbing”. The abuser says and does things to get others on their “side” and tricks them into actively participating in the abuse. Usually the abuser poses as the victim in order to gain some form of sympathy so others will side with them.
An Example from My Personal Files
A long time ago I worked for a commercial bank. I was pressured by my manager, and overloaded with work. She made personal phone calls and filed her nails at the desk behind me. To add to the pressure I became pregnant with my second child. Soon I had to take more frequent bathroom breaks and sometimes eat crackers during the day to settle my stomach. I had stacks and stacks of files on my desk daily. I felt overwhelmed much of the time. It was not long before I was called in and placed on 3 months probation for not keeping up with my work. During the probation meeting I broke apart at the pressure of my manager. Although I was straight forward about her lazy management skills, I ended up leaving due to the pressure. I lost my medical insurance, which I desperately needed, and felt horrible my whole pregnancy.
My manager used “mobbing” in order to control the situation for herself. Long before the probation meeting she had been going to upper management complaining about me about every little detail. Her complaints were completely unwarranted. I also happened to know her personally outside of work and she did not agree with some of my personal choices. I guess she decided to teach me a lesson and make life hard on me. The strange thing, is I could “feel” this happening before it did happen. Strange looks and being shunned by those above me began to happen. Then there were comments made to me that seemed out of context. I was being primed for abuse and eventually to leave my job.
According to the Workplace Bullying Institute in 2014, 27% of those surveyed nationally felt they were bullied or abused at work. Keep in mind that this is a figure regarding bullying. There are many types of abuse such as sexual discrimination, sexual or verbal harassment, mobbing, discrediting through gossip or undermining. These are just a few to make a point. This is a very serious thing. Many people come out from workplace abuse with a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, loss of wages, loss of insurance, loss of integrity, and even sometimes lose their lives because of the pressure.
So What Do You Do?
- Tell someone! With any type of abuse people feel too ashamed to talk about it. Telling someone takes courage but once it is done there is a great deal of relief. Talk to a counselor, the Labor Board, or an organization like Workplace Bullying Institute. Talk to a good friend and gain others who are sympathetic to your side.
- Confront! Allow authorities to do an intervention with yourself and your management. With some employers this can be a labor union or you can even find a labor attorney or advocate.
- Contribute. Be the person that others can come to and make others aware of abuse in the workplace or in business. We are all stronger when we band together.
- Take good care of yourself! Practice a lot of self care doing things that are healthy for you. You can train for another job. Do things that create happiness in your life. Surround yourself with the right kind of friends who help you move on and not keep you stuck in the post traumatic stress.
- Pray. Stretch your faith toward better days ahead.
Ask yourself. Do you want to be a part of a company that treats you poorly or won’t defend you when you have a problem? Do you want to be a part of a business where you are subjected to unwarranted pressure, gossip, control, manipulation, or harsh behavior?
Life is too precious to allow any part of it be subjected to those who treat you bad regardless to the reason they might have. It is their job to change their tactics. It is your job to defend your own well being and those around you!
Pastor Jenine Marie Howry