Not only is there a stigma attached to the reporting of bullying incidents, there’s also a reluctance by bullying targets to ask others for help in dealing with victimisation. This double whammy makes it hard to combat bullying.
One US study found that only 20-30% of bullied school students reported the bullying to an adult because of humiliation, fear, embarrassment or feeling it wouldn’t make a difference. Unfortunately, holding all that pain inside is a terrible emotional burden – and that pain applies equally to targets of worksite harassment and cyber abuse too.
In my own workplace bullying experience, I waited much too long before seeking outside help to deal with the emotional and physical fallout resulting from being targeted by a toxic boss for three years. Both during and after the bullying, I experienced symptoms similar to PTSD. I left seeking help so late because I felt I was a strong enough person to handle it on my own – but the physical toll it took on me (I ended up in the hospital) showed me I should have sought support much earlier.
There are plenty of professional organisations, charities and helplines you can talk to if you’re being bullied. Reach out to them now!
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Jessica Hickman is a professional member of these associations: