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.
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...
“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 It was coined in 1986, and it’s not at all outdated.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:
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.
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...
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...
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...
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...
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
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.
In 2010, the Boston Police...
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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