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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Police officer endured series of abuses for eight years after management error

Boston Police Officer Brenda James began her career in the male-dominated, dangerous field in 1994. Her district was changing, becoming more inclusive and diverse. The police department adopted a different model of policing — “community policing” — developing partnerships and relationships with community members. Officer James was assigned to help carry out that mission. She was recognized for the work she did as a community service officer and then became a juvenile officer, a liaison between the police department and community – school officials, clergy, business-owners, social service agencies, and programs. She was involved in roundtable discussions, interventions, mediation, individual educational plans for students at risk, court advocacy for juvenile delinquents, and relationship-building with probation. She became certified to mediate and earned a masters degree in criminal justice from Boston University.

The Backstory
In 2010, the Boston Police...

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One advocate says abusing employees should be a crime

The abuse started out at what I thought would be the perfect job. The pay, responsibility, and opportunities to advance were all there. What I didn’t plan on happening was that it would all crash down around me leading to over nine months of legal proceedings and numerous health issues due to depression. I guess you could say that according to the lawyers, I won my workman’s comp claim. But what did I really win? I was out of a job, and the monsters I worked for were still free to do this again and again and again to the next person who stood up and said what was happening was wrong.

I should have seen the writing on the wall about six months after I started. My manager was in way over her head and stood me up for countless meetings when I was in the office. When we did finally meet, there were all the bright discussions around what my plans were for the future. I had even drafted documents outlining how my position could progress into one with greater responsibilities,...

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One advocate’s experience of ongoing workplace abuse

I believe lots of people whose lives have been affected by workplace bullying or have witnessed/heard about it, and I am one of those people. Here is my sad story to chew on:

A company hired me in January 2013 as a resident services coordinator/social worker. I was one of only a very few Black (African-American) employees with an office position at the company. Black employees comprise a disproportionately small percentage of all employees.

Six months after I was hired, I had an argument with my boss regarding the disposition of donation checks written to the company-authorized solicitation by me to contractors asking for support of an annual cookout for residents. I notified my manager and his assistant manager that the donations were made payable to “Company” and gave it to them. My manager and his assistant told me that they wouldn’t notify the company about this money because the company may not give back the money. The cookout took place, and the donation money...

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A Commonwealth employee describes ongoing torment that threatened her life

I was the target of workplace bullying and discrimination. This is my story.

My career as a state employee started the summer of 1986; I had just finished my 1st year of college and was given the opportunity to work in the business office at a mental health facility in Boston. At the end of the summer, I was offered a part time position at a facility that was near campus. For the next 15+ years, I worked for three different agencies of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In 2004, I accepted the offer of a position as a contracts specialist for the Department of Developmental Services in Danvers.

In May 2014, I had an accident at work. A step stool in the supply closet tipped over, and I fell off it. I didn’t know that the stool was broken since it had not been labeled as broken or taken out of service. I suffered severe injuries: a concussion, loss of some vision in my right eye, a torn labrum in my shoulder, bruised coccyx, and multiple bruises. Due to my fall, I...

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How feeling pain can transform us

When we’re abused at work, our perception of the world can feel like we’re looking into a tunnel with limited ways out. But painful, crushing experiences CAN lead to a new you according to #1 New York Times bestselling author T.D. Jakes.

It’s about trusting in the universe to lead you to healing after you feel like crushed grapes. Feeling crushed is part of a transformative process. If we’re protected from our pain, we may miss out on our purpose, Jakes says. It’s a lesson that Jen Sincero also teaches in her bestseller You Are A Badass: look for the lesson to help you grow and realize why you’ve been put on this planet.

We become our best selves when we’ve endured things we thought were going to kill us…. We get stuck because we are so adaptable to our environment that we start accepting normatives out of things not meant to be normal in our lives.

There’s a pathology of pain that people get into where if...

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An advocate asks: where’s the professional and community understanding of workplace bullying?

My workplace bullying started in May of 2010 when my then husband was on his second deployment to Afghanistan. I worked as an Executive Administrator for seven years coordinating sales training schools.

In September of 2010, my position became full time. After signing the paperwork, the sabotage increased. Management orchestrated it and recruited sales training managers, salespeople in the field, and possibly even a vendor. I just found out the term for this is “mobbing.”

  • Things on my documents changed (limo pickup times, rooming lists, etc.)
  • Laptop crashed, suspicious issues with computer
  • Important papers were taken off my desk
  • Excluded from meetings
  • Blamed for mistakes that others made
  • Workload increased
  • Last minute requests increased
  • Emails deleted

This was the first time ever in my life that my work was sabotaged. I was in complete shock that people actually behaved this way. I could not imagine doing this to anyone. I had always received positive reviews, and each...

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