How mobbing hurts

Truth, like surgery, may hurt, but it cures.  Han Suyin

Some of the hardest things for me to deal with in this whole mobbing scenario have been:

1)   feeling completely left out of the loop socially and academically, and being the only one on the outside

2)   suspecting that everyone in my field of contact was aware of some problem about me for which they were seeking evidence, leading to feelings of powerlessness, hypervigilance and severe anxiety

3)   feeling humiliated that all my old acquaintances and friends had been asked to talk about me and my behaviour, and to find evidence of problems from my past; a complete invasion of my privacy and a platform for slander

4)   anger that people felt justified in erroneously using my behaviour to support their own lies, vendettas and agendas; and that I was being judged constantly by others who had elevated themselves to role of judge, jury and punishment officers

5)   disillusionment that the people I approached for help and who should theoretically have assisted me did not listen or act on my behalf, thus supporting the mobbers, exacerbating my distress and repeatedly thwarting my quest for validation and justice

6)   disappointment that fair and ethical teaching at university was compromised by an unjustifiable focus on the personal; and that management intentionally ignored the problem thus completely devaluing the existing No Bullying policy

7)   a burning sense of waste as I look back at the years I could have been following my career path, and also of all that time and confusion it took me to make any sense of what was happening at a time when I really needed support

So, I am no health professional (having been mobbed out of psychology studies). But I have pinpointed the problems that still haunt me, and have nutted it down to distressing feelings of:

  • isolation
  • rejection
  • powerlessness
  • humiliation
  • taint by slander
  • loss of faith in fair systems
  • violation of my human rights
  • anger
  • regret

Here is a list taken from the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Submission to the national Inquiry into Workplace Bullying, 2012, about the human rights that can be adversely affected by bullying [and mobbing]:

  • the right to life
  • dignity of the individual as a result of public humiliation
  • the right to liberty and security of person
  • the right to work and fair working conditions [I would like to add the right to fair studying conditions in terms of education, or fair participation conditions in committees etc]
  • the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

Here are some more ideas about the sorts of personal rights that bullying undermines, based on concepts in “The Bully-Free Workplace” (Gary Namie & Ruth Namie, 2011):

  • the right to be treated as a human who is just as deserving of respect and dignity as anybody else
  • the right to positive regard
  • the right to be safe from rumours and gossip
  • the right to be protected and cared for when in a vulnerable state
  • the right to have confidence in your own competence
  • the right for personal information to be private and inapplicable
  • the right to maintain psychological integrity and a sense of valid humanity
  • the right to grow, learn and develop without being shackled to previous experiences and others’ past perceptions
I feel great empathy for any of you who have also been a target of mobbing and are living with its many harmful effects. There is obviously no quick fix, and I don’t want to increase targets’ distress by describing these problems. However, I personally have found it helpful to put my experience into words, and to recognise and describe what is still troubling me (feel free to add suggestions for the list if it won’t upset you too much, they would be very welcome). I stress again that targets should find appropriate health professionals to help them deal with what has happened. Ultimately, targets of mobbing have been victims of a particular form of bullying. It could be helpful to tell your treating professionals exactly what has happened to you, so they can help treat you appropriately.

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