Victim

Do you feel that you are being bullied?

You are probably feeling stressed out, undermined and demoralised. You may also be confused.

Someone has broken your boundaries. You have become a subconscious/unconscious container for the bully’s inner anxieties.

What is the bully saying about you? Do you agree with this? Is this your perception of reality? Probably not. It probably says more about him/her, than about you.

That is because bullies can’t engage with their inner anxieties and so project them on to others. They then perceive that person (the container) to have those anxieties. They develop fixed perceptions of him/her which are very difficult to change. There is a rigidity to the way a bully views the world

Action

If bullying is in the early stages, set boundaries for yourself and protect yourself. For example if the bully approaches you and you feel cornered and isolated, tell the bully that you will talk elsewhere. Chose a place that is convenient for you i.e. a more public space. By being in a shared space, the bully has less opportunity to fill that space with his, or her, toxic projections.

The bully may not be aware of what he, or she, is doing. His, or her, reality will not be the same as yours. Ask questions. Challenging the bully could help you to set boundaries and resolve differences at an early stage.  This is the most cost effective way, for individuals and organisations, to manage bullying.

Bullies lack empathy. Attempting to engage a bully in how you are feeling is unlikely to bring about any positive benefits for you. It is best to be distant (draw boundaries) and be professional. Make the bully aware of his/ her behaviour and ask him/her to stop. Your objections could be put in writing – but keep to the facts, not the emotions. Get a union official or colleague to accompany you or act on your behalf. If the situation is getting out of hand write your resignation, put it to one side and be prepared to get out, if possible. By looking at alternatives you are less likely to be drawn into the toxic dynamics and find yourself in a double bind (see definitions) i.e. whatever you do is seen to be wrong in the eyes of the bully.

If the bullying has already become established and you are feeling tormented get support e.g. seek help from friends who can reassure you that you are not going mad.  You are dealing with a matrix of fantasy and reality and so need help to reframe events into a ‘digestible form’ e.g. through counselling, or NLP (Neurolinguistics practitioner). Alternatively try CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) or EFT (emotional freedom technique). See links page. Raise issues with HR managers and senior managers, if that is possible, and keep records of incidents. Follow procedures to the letter. Be warned - the effects of bullying can be equivalent to PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

Question your role. Has this happened to you in previous jobs or roles? If becoming a victim is a pattern of behaviour in your life, then get some professional help to take responsibility for setting firmer boundaries in relationships.

It is important to have ‘space’ to restore your boundaries and bring clarity of mind. Returning to work part-time, if feasible, could aid recovery. Giving yourself space to meditate can help the recovery process but only if this is used to allow new thoughts to emerge. Going over and over the trauma by yourself will not help you to move forward.

Are you in the right job? Do you fit this career path or organisation’s culture? Or have your views and values changed over time? Has the ethical and moral stance of the organisation changed - do you still fit?

Leaving an abusive situation may seem difficult at the time but many victims have found a move to a new post, or change of career, beneficial to them in the long run. Some even acknowledge that they should have made a move much earlier. It was the bullying which forced them to change.

Reflect on the experience. What did you learn? Are you more able to set boundaries within working relationships? Has the experience better prepared to you to stand up for yourself in future?