Bullying- My Experience
It’s been on my mind for a few weeks now that I need to write about something particularly close to my heart, something which has deeply affected me throughout my life. I have been a victim of bullying not only as a child within the playground but also whilst at College, as a student at University and very sadly as an adult within the workplace. Whilst there are many forms of bullying, there is no age limit for bullies or their victims, bullying can and does take place not only within the childhood years but also in adulthood.
Looking back throughout my life I am not sure which is the hardest pill to swallow, the fact that I was so badly bullied back in both Primary and Secondary School or the sad truth that it seemed to become more serious and intense as I grew older.
It seems strange that I would want to continue working within Education as an adult considering that my own Education had been so difficult and sadly tainted by the abuse from bullies for all those years. In truth I wanted to be the one to change things, I wanted to be that Teacher that actually made a difference and tried to maintain healthy, friendly relationships within and outside of the classroom.
I remember reading for hours on end about the benefits of activities such as circle time and researching the behaviour and psychology of children to find answers to conflict within and outside of the classroom. I was adamant that I would stamp out bullying for the students that I taught, helping them to understand the importance of kindness and acceptance. I remember using one particular script in Drama with year seven classes each and every year to help them to identify just how serious bullying can be, to give them a chance to discuss their feelings upon the matter and an opportunity to bond as a group ‘without barriers’.
I not only enjoyed my job as a Teacher, I loved it! That was until the management changed and I found myself becoming leaned upon. My workload seemed to increase with ever more demanding expectations and vastly shrinking deadlines. Following having my son, I returned to work on a part-time basis after a short maternity leave, I was then told that they wished to make me redundant. I was assured that it was nothing personal and that it was purely a financial decision.
I was ranked against the lady who had covered my maternity leave (an NQT) for redundancy and luckily my Union swooped in and saved the day, I was then reinstated and continued to work within the School. Things began taking a turn for the worst as it became apparent that the Manager wasn’t particularly happy that the Unions had overrode his decision and suddenly things seemed to get very personal indeed.
I began getting called into the Managers office on a regular basis for personal matters such as my appearance, my social media use (by which I am referring to my Facebook account which was locked and set to private yet somehow they seemed to have accessed),my monthly YouTube family video montages, my lifestyle, and other random trivialities which were nothing whatsoever to do with my role as a Teacher or any matter of their business.
Despite having remained as a part-time member of staff I was given an array of random roles which weren’t always teaching, the classes that I was given were no longer allocated in the specialist classrooms with the correct equipment, weren’t necessarily subjects that I taught and the groups that I was allocated were challenging to say the least. I had been setup to fail and I knew it, I still gave it my best shot and tried my damned hardest to make the best of a bad situation. Sadly my efforts were wasted as redundancies were once again announced and this time round the goalposts had been shifted and the outcome became clear that I would be leaving that Summer.
The ‘office meetings’ seemed to become more fast and furious, it always seemed that the meetings were booked for times when the Manager knew that my union rep was unavailable. I felt like a child standing outside his office day after day for matters unknown to me until I entered. Things began to turn ugly, It seemed that the manager had a personal vendetta against me and his issues raised became utterly ridiculous, at one point I was even accused of driving dangerously and erratically through the school car park, I was completely baffled by this accusation and despite being told by my manager that he himself had seen the incident with his own eyes, it turned out that the car he stated that I was in was not a vehicle that I owned nor had ever driven.
Whilst I was expected to remain within my role until the end of the Summer term, I was literally falling apart by this point. Each morning I would wake with stomach ache, feeling sick with nerves over what I would have to endure throughout the day. I began suffering with IBS and severe Anxiety & Depression. I didn’t see it right for my students or myself that I should continue to teach given the state that I was in, I therefore left ‘on the sick’ in early June. A few months later I was officially made redundant and whilst I knew that I was about to become penny-less I actually felt a deep sense of relief.
I’ve always been quite worried about sharing this experience online. I felt that I had to live my life as instructed, having being programmed by my manager that social media and the internet was a ‘no go zone’, it somehow became deep-rooted despite me no longer working there.
As you can imagine I was fairly damaged by this experience, By the time my next job came along I was very anxious about the possibility of anything similar ever happening to me again and it took a long while before I found myself able to settle into my role. After a few months I was beginning to enjoy my new role as a part-time Tutor, despite it being within a rough environment.
Three years later the management team changed and I found myself becoming targeted once again. It was plainly obvious that the establishment in which I worked was failing, the staff turnover was immense, with almost 50 members of staff having been and gone in the short time that I had worked there. Like rats jumping from a sinking ship, people were leaving left, right and centre.
I desperately searched for another job as I became more and more unhappy with how I was being treated not only as a staff member but as an individual. It all came to a head last October when I was put into a situation where I feared for both my own safety and sanity and after discussing it in length with family, friends and colleagues I resigned. It wasn’t a decision that I took lightly, it was the right one for me given that I was starting to find myself becoming ill once again. No job, no matter how good the pay is should ever make someone sick!
Life since hasn’t been plain sailing, I have found myself back behind the bar pulling pints as I did as a youth. Whilst this doesn’t pay mega bucks and certainly doesn’t do much for my self-esteem, it has at least helped to cover the bills so far. I was extremely sensitive and struggled with my own emotions when I first began working again, even though it was only part-time bar work I worried about how others might treat me. Over the past nine months I have gradually begun rebuilding my self-confidence and am slowly feeling stronger.
I believed for some time that bullying must be prevalent within the Education sector, given that my experiences were based within this area. Sadly I was wrong and I was deeply saddened to find that the one place where I had just begun to feel safe, secure and was starting to rebuild my confidence within also harboured similar personalities to those that I had previously encountered, adult bullies.
Over time, I have learnt to deal with these individuals with the support and guidance from family, friends, colleagues and my manager. I do wonder whether it is ‘just me’ and in some respects I believe this to be true as I wear my heart on my sleeve and somehow seem to attract bullies. The difference now is that I will no longer allow myself to fall victim to being bullied, I will simply not tolerate being made to feel inferior, belittled, fearful or threatened by anyone ever again.
Sad But True
Bullying can and does occur at any age, if you find yourself becoming a victim of such behaviour then you need to ensure that you report the bullying, have it dealt with immediately and seek support from those around you.
I want to make it more understood and accepted that bullying can and does occur in adulthood, it is as damaging (if not more so) as bullying during childhood and can deeply impact a persons personal and professional life. It should not ever be deemed as acceptable and should always be dealt with as a serious matter.
Bloggers Beating Bullying
I spent time collecting quotes from my fellow bloggers upon adult bullying, I would like to thank all of those that got involved with this post for their time and for sharing their experiences and thoughts upon this serious matter.
Lucy from The Parent Game Blog
“If I was an employer, I would be very wary of putting my faith in someone just because they had worked there a long time. I also think bullying happens a lot more in the workplace than people realise. Particularly in today’s culture, when a lot of people are fearing for their jobs. Zero hour contracts, especially, are giving managers too much power over lower employees and often they have little or no managerial experience to draw on, due to poor training and companies constantly striving to cut corners and costs.”
Emily from A Slummy Mummy
“Bullies, especially when we are adults, have a way of seeking out and exploiting people pleasers (I’m a pp myself). When someone takes a dislike to us it cuts very deep…. Reinforces past feelings of rejection. It’s so easy to ask yourself ‘how can I change to make them like me?’.
Accepting that someone is holding some unfounded grudge is heartbreaking. It makes you wonder, ‘what’s wrong with me, I’ve done nothing but be nice and polite and try to fit in.’
The key to it is accepting it’s THEIR issue, empathise, realise there is something in their past that makes them this way, feel sorry for them. They must have been hurt v badly if the only way they can feel powerful is to put someone else down.
Realise that while you can’t change their behaviour YOU are strong and powerful enough to let it roll off you!
Bullies have a way of tapping in to our insecurities, be confident in yourself, learn assertiveness and you will come out the other side having grown, while they will always be the same…. Lonely and bitter.”
Amanda from Mum Going Crazy
“I was bullied about my weight all through junior school. I have looked back of photos of me as a child and although I was chubby I was not fat. This has affected me mentally all my life and I still dont see myself as the size I am and feel bigger. I was also bullied at senior school for being good at swimming and always winning school trophies. This made me stop swimming! I’m very sorry for you, how awful you must be a very good talented person and people are cruel when they are jealous. Remember that there are still nice people out there that would never bully!”
Lauren from Trainee Blogger And Mother
“I think there is not enough emphasis but on bullying in the workplace, therefore management aren’t trained well enough to handle a situation of bullying arising. I think a massive problem is management don’t know how to deal with it and so they leave it to get worse instead of trying to nip it in the bud when it is first brought to their attention.”
Rachael from All The Things I Say
“I have been bullied both in school and the workplace too and it’s miserable. I seem to attract these people! Remember that it’s them with the problem and that it probably boils down to either jealousy or the fact they are just lousy, miserable individuals.”
Bullying Guidelines & Support
The Government website clearly outline the guidelines upon Workplace Bullying & Harassment. I have copied some of the information from their website below.
Bullying and harassment is behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated or offended. Harassment is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.
Examples of bullying or harassing behaviour include:
- spreading malicious rumours
- unfair treatment
- picking on someone
- regularly undermining a competent worker
- denying someone’s training or promotion opportunities
Bullying and harassment can happen:
- by letter
- by email
- by phone
Bullying itself isn’t against the law, but harassment is. This is when the unwanted behaviour is related to one of the following:
- gender (including gender reassignment)
- marriage and civil partnership
- pregnancy and maternity
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
What employees should do if they’re bullied or harassed
Employees should see if they can sort out the problem informally first. If they can’t, they should talk to their:
- human resources (HR) department
- trade union representative
If this doesn’t work, they can make a formal complaint using their employer’s grievance procedure. If this doesn’t work and they’re still being harassed, they can take legal action at an employment tribunal.
They could also call the Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) helpline for advice:
Telephone: 0300 123 1100
Textphone: 18001 0300 123 1100
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Saturday, 9am to 1pm
Employers are responsible for preventing bullying and harassment – they’re liable for any harassment suffered by their employees.
Anti-bullying and harassment policies can help prevent problems. Acas has produced a booklet for employers, including advice on setting up a policy as well as how to recognise, deal with and prevent bullying and harassment.
Should you wish to read further information upon this matter from GOV.UK, visit https://www.gov.uk/workplace-bullying-and-harassment
There are a great number of websites out there to support and guide adults being bullied whether it be in or outside of the workplace, thankfully the internet is a great place to seek help, here are a few other sites which may be of support to you should you find yourself in a similar situation to my own experiences.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post, I realise it isn’t one of my most light-hearted pieces of writing but it is certainly worth sharing should it help anyone else who has been/ is suffering with similar issues as to those mentioned within this post.