Workplace bullying – a local story

Cambridge woman Angela* was the victim of workplace bullying, and it has had a profound impact on her mental and physical health, nearly bankrupting her in the process.

Angela had been working for a multi-national company for just a month when the bullying started, getting so bad over the following 18 months that she seriously considered suicide as her only way out. A consummate professional, Angela said the experience shook her to the core. “I pride myself on my professionalism, it’s an integral part of my personality…I didn’t know how to cope with that.” And it came out of the blue. “It absolutely blindsided me…I didn’t understand why it was happening,” she said.

Continually undermined both privately and in front of her peers and given warnings about her performance that were thrown out each time she challenged them, the bullying was relentless and isolated her from her workmates and had her questioning her sanity at times. She began to shut down. As Angela isolated herself from friends and family and retreated into her shell, her mother began phoning her several times a day and coming over in the morning to make sure she was still alive. Normally fastidious around the house, Angela became unable to do even basic housework due to the trauma associated with her treatment at work. When it was particularly bad, her mum had to sleep over to make sure she wouldn’t hurt herself. And it was bad a lot.

Despite the fact she knew she had done nothing wrong, a view backed up by mediators and lawyers, it took a huge personal toll on her having to go back to the workplace day in and day out, while the relentless bullying continued. “It destroys your soul and affects every aspect of your life,” she explained. By the end, after almost two years, she was made redundant. Her bully had made sure her reputation in the industry was in tatters, however, and it took her almost a year to find another job. Massive financial pressure from the legal bills associated with fighting for her job, followed by unemployment, pushed her to the brink of bankruptcy and much of Angela’s current income is going toward paying back debts she racked up trying to keep afloat.  Formerly an ambitious and loyal worker, Angela no longer aspires to work towards a management role, wanting instead to have a role where you “just go and do your job and come home”.

“I don’t know that I will ever get over it,” she said, sadly.

*Name has been changed to protect her from any repercussions from speaking out

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