A project coordinator was blown off after reporting workplace abuse

I work as a project coordinator in Boston.

The bullying begin after I moved to a different department. I wasn’t getting trained or work to do after moving to the new area. I would ask the project managers and director if there was anything I could help with. They’d say no but would give work to the other project coordinator. I expressed my concern of not getting work to do. Then my cubemate started turning the radio up loud, someone took my cell phone off my desk, and someone opened my desk drawer. Someone also broke the lock to my file cabinet and took things out of it.

The co-worker sent an email stating that I needed to sign in and out because he didn’t know where I was when I’d be to lunch or a meeting or after I supported our new assistant general manager at an event.

I asked myself: why would my group not want to work together?

Problems escalated when I went to Employee Relations. They were upset that I didn’t just let it go and let them continue...

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A teacher reveals her story of hope after workplace abuse

In July of 2012, I was hired as a 4th-Grade Teacher for the 2012-2013 school year in a Massachusetts school district. It was my first public school teaching job. The school was located in a low-income neighborhood and was a “Level 3” school due to poor performance on MCAS. None of this worried me because this was the exact type of setting I had done many of my practica and student teaching in during my college years. During the required pre-employment physical, I was honest about my diagnoses of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, explaining that I’d been stable for the last six years thanks to therapy and medication. At the orientation for new teachers the week before school started, I met the New Teacher Liaison, who expressed her excitement to have someone as passionate about the job as I was. The school’s Literacy Coach, “Sheila,” echoed these sentiments. I was assigned a mentor at my school, an ESL Teacher named...

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The law isn't keeping up with the times

In recent years, we’ve seen thousands take to the streets to defend women’s rights in women’s marches around the globe. We’ve seen our social media threads fill up with the hashtag #MeToo, standing up to sexual harassment and assault. We’ve seen protest after protest demanding that #BlackLivesMatter.

We’ve seen hundreds of thousands stand up to abuse of power. Yet the law hasn’t kept up.

Women, Hispanics, and African-Americans are the most likely to be targeted in this epidemic.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects these groups from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. So why are these groups more likely to endure verbal abuse, sabotage, and other types of threatening, intimidating, and humiliating behavior?

While important legislation, this act only protects those who can connect their membership in the group to the abuse. So those workers whose abusers are in the same protected class may be...

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The vast majority of nurses have dealt with workplace abuse. That’s staggering.

“Roughly 85 percent of nurses have been abused by a fellow nurse and approximately one in three nurses have considered quitting the profession due to bullying,” according to a 2017 blog post by Pittsburgh-based Select International Healthcare says Alyssa Rege in her article “8 things to know about nurse bullying” from Becker’s Hospital Review.

You read that right. 85 percent — meaning the vast majority of nurses — experience workplace abuse, which in turn affects patient care (read: you and your loved ones), and one in three considers tossing everything they worked for — years of schooling and studying — right in the trash to take their health and dignity back.

“Nurses eat their young” is a common phrase workplace anti-abuse advocates who are nurses use. It was coined in 1986, and it’s not at all outdated.

Rege points to these eight facts about nurse abuse:

1. “Forty-five...

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A city worker deals with abuse from a politically-connected co-worker who higher-ups won’t discipline

I work for a Massachusetts city in the capacity of a senior clerk and typist. I began my time with them completely and utterly oblivious that these types of workplaces existed.   

I began my time working for an amazing asst. superintendent who is no longer with the district. I began as an office clerk. In our office, there was an administrative assistant and two other administrators under the asst. superintendent. I came into the roles as a team player, hard worker, and willing to go the extra mile. I was there for six months and was looking for a move into a senior clerk and typist position within the district due to low wages of the office clerk position. The asst. superintendent saw my worth and kept me on in her office as a senior clerk. The administrative assistant was a senior clerk at one time — those positions are made for people who are politically connected in our city. Her husband was a city councilman.

So time...

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An administrator abuses a teacher to replace her with her friend

About two years ago, I lost my job as a teacher. I had a great observation my first year of teaching. I was on cloud nine. Life was great.

The second year of teaching, we got a new administrator whose goal apparently was to make my life a living hell. She would show up in my room randomly, criticize every move I made as an educator, and constantly compare me with other educators in the building and use their names while telling me how I needed to be more like them. I went so far as to enroll myself back in a local university and take a class to prove to my administrator that I did in fact know my material and what I was doing.

After months of harassment from her, I was informed that I would not be coming back as a teacher. Everything I’d worked for was gone: so many years in school, nights studying, exams, MTELs — gone.

I was told by my union to just apply in a low income area because they hire anyone. I found that my last resort could be to face my former district in...

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To the one who abused me at work

I see you.

I feel your shame you pushed onto me because you didn’t want to feel it yourself. I feel the feelings of incompetence you deflect. I feel not good enough just like we both felt as kids.

We handle our shame differently. I wanted your approval because love was conditional growing up and tied to my behavior. For you, the constant shame must’ve been unbearable — so much so that you learned to make your shame other people’s shame. You put me down because you feel small. You teach others to see me as small to make the lie real. False accusations, sabotage, and verbal abuse are your tools.

When I accepted that humans could be capable of this behavior, I felt let down. So let down. I fought back for myself and everything I’d suffered.

But your story already won.

It won with those who feared they’d be next if they didn’t “yes” you again and again. It won with those who didn’t want to sift through right and wrong because...

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A Massachusetts nurse deals with a series of abuses with a new director

I’ve been a registered nurse in Massachusetts since 2004. I worked for one company for six years. I really enjoyed my job and looked forward to going into work every day. I’d been promoted to a senior nurse position and looked forward to the new responsibilities and challenges associated with this job. At this time, we had a new director of nurses who was different from any other past directors of nurses: she was condescending, arrogant, and had a huge chip on her shoulder. She never even took the time to interview me for this new position or meet me, which I thought was strange.

When I began my new position as a senior nurse, I looked forward to working together with the other fellow senior nurses to improve patient care. But as soon as I started my position, the bullying began — from two senior nurses who felt it was their duty to subject me to a sort of “hazing” and harassment to see if I met their standard for this position. Some of the ways in...

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A workplace abuse story of hope

When I started my marketing job, it felt like a good ol’ boys’ club. In my first couple weeks on the job, the men did pushups together. When I didn’t participate, my boss told me, overweight and the only woman in the office that day, that exercise is important. I was appalled.

Nitpicking was the management style of choice. Constant re-writes and re-designs with no explanations came across as power and control moves. Color choices, headline text, logo details, and other petty changes became more of a priority than responding to most of my emails.

I didn’t feel like a respected team member. I felt treated like a child.

I saw others deal with similar power and control moves — even worse authoritarian directives that were demeaning and unnecessary.

Meanwhile, there was little communication of higher level initiatives and decisions as is typical in healthy work cultures. There were no goals by role that tied in with a vision. There were no consistent...

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My #1 way to cope with an abuser

Over the years, I’ve read a lot about the tactics workplace abusers use to build power. But it’s my personal experience with abusers who show narcissistic traits where I’ve observed even more specific patterns, which led me to my #1 way to cope with them.

First: the patterns

  • They establish a rank and position themselves at the top. If they don’t already have power over you as your boss, they find a way to create a hierarchy and frequently remind you of it. They try to convince you (and others) that they’re in fact better than you in some crucial way: they’re more knowledgeable or more enlightened, for example. They may simply dictate to you and hope you accept the hierarchy. They may get on their soapboxes and hope you’ll be their audience because they crave attention. Contrast this behavior with what healthy people do: collaborate, share power, and otherwise flatten hierarchies as much as possible. (In workplaces specifically, author...
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