Abuse in the workplace and in school
No happiness found there,
Only spiritual starvation.
Powerless to protest,
A futile rebellion
Against cruel oppression,
Looks that can kill,
Scowls of derision,
An abyss of degradation,
Imprisoning sense of self.
As she explored her painful experiences of severe workplace bullying, Anna, one of my clients, set about reclaiming her power by writing an ‘unsent letter’ to her ex- boss, Mark. Anna is well qualified, and has a university degree, but Mark was so abusive that she eventually had to leave work, and she angrily told me how the company had accepted her letter of ‘resignation’ and wished her well for the future. Her letter will give you an insight into the nature of workplace bullying, and how destructive it is to unsuspecting victims –
Ever since I left my job, which you forced me to do, I have been through hell, all because of you and how you treated me for the past year. Every day I was afraid to go to work and was sick every morning at the thoughts of it, and you, and your behaviour. You treated me like dirt.
It was the same every day. Not even a hello from you in the mornings, constant shouting and roaring at me, blaming me for everything and making little of me in front of the others. It got to the stage that I was nearly physically sick most days because of this, and more. Not being able to leave my desk without you ringing to see where I was, not being able to go to the bathroom without permission, because you, or no one else, had the sense or the decency to answer the phone. It felt so degrading to have to ask permission to go to the toilet.
The atmosphere in the office was awful in the last few months I was there, mainly because of you. Expecting me to do absolutely everything for you, and yet not letting me leave my desk to do other parts of my job. Do you know how that feels to be almost followed everywhere you go and to fear leaving your desk because I’d get given out to? No! You don’t, because no one tells you what to do.
I hate the way you tell everyone what to do, even people that don’t work there. You just love being in control of everything or you fly off the handle. You’re weak, that’s why. Almost paranoid at times when you don’t know exactly what’s going on.
You made my life a misery. I couldn’t get you or work out of my head, even at weekends, because of the fear I felt. The fear of you and what you’d say next or blame me for next. I felt I could do nothing right, you made me feel stupid, bad at my job, because everything I did was someway wrong, mainly because I wasn’t Margaret or I didn’t do it her way. Since she came back from America, you started treating me 100 times worse than you used to. Shouting at me every morning, blaming me for things that had nothing to do with me, taking all your anger out on me and making me feel guilty for being out sick. The morning I left you even dared me to count how many sick days I had last year.
That morning you were so horrible to me. I really wanted to sort things out, discuss it properly, but you just treated me like dirt. I’ll never forget the way you spoke to me. You didn’t even say thank you for all my work or sorry for what you did. You just wanted Margaret back, and that was it, never mind about me.
I just want you to know how sick I was when I left, and that its only now, nearly two months later, that I’m starting to feel myself again. I used to be afraid to do anything because I had so little confidence in myself. All because of how your treated me. You wouldn’t ever let me do any other work, only answer the phones and other ‘dogs’ work that no one else had the time to do. I was a fool, too soft and you really took advantage of that. The pity of it is that I was so proud to work there at the start. I even told people to go to your company to get work done, and what thanks did I ever get only abuse. You never trusted me to do any sort of challenging work, and I started to believe I was useless, that I could do nothing only answer phones. You made me feel so worthless and not just at work. You wouldn’t even let me go home early when the snow was very bad; you just gave out to me again. I hated you so much from then on. Since January it was like you upped your bullying game against me to force me out. It got so bad, you made my life miserable and you didn’t even care. All you care about is money, and competing with your friend’s company.
Well, Mark, I want you to know that I’m over all that now and getting my life back on track. I don’t need you or your stupid job anymore. I’ve never been happier. I don’t care about you and I am going to be happier, and more successful than you’ll ever be. You’ll end up a very sad and lonely man if you keep treating people the way you treated me.”
Adapted from Jim O’Shea’s book Abuse. Domestic Violence, Workplace and School Bullying published by Cork University Press
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