Breaking the Silence on Workplace Bullying To Prevent It

A few years ago, I suffered extreme bullying in the workplace while working in the human resources sector. I created my position within the company as the Culture Coordinator. Known as ‘The face of the company,’ I fought hard for men’s and women’s mental health.

On the outside, I was successful and happy, and the passionate driving force for change in mental health stigma. However, behind the scenes was a very different story.

Toxic leadership and narcissist management subjected me to extensive workplace bullying and other forms of bullying for more than 2 years. They bullied me for two reasons: I am a woman and I vigorously championed equality and freedom of speech.

The easiest option would be to walk away, kiss goodbye to the toxic culture and run for the hills. At that time, this option was indeed so appealing.

But I stayed on… I couldn’t bear the thought of someone I had strongly supported at work taking their own life because they didn’t receive the necessary support from Human Resources.

All I begged for was to have peace and to do my job without my bully intimidating me. Thirty-two (32) times I raised my case with upper management, 32 times I built up the courage to speak up and report incidents. And 32 times, they let me down.

I thought I was alone and locked myself into a lonely ‘victim’ state of mind. My happiness was in the hands of my bully. Why did he deserve that, right?

My Mental Health

When my emotional pain turned physical, it was the push I needed to leave the company that had caused me so much suffering.

It took me four (4) days to recover from an anxiety attack that left me in a hospital bed dazed and confused. Working in a toxic environment 60 hours a week for a three and half year period had taken its toll. Constantly suppressing anxiety and living in fear had made me a nervous wreck. I was scared and lonely.

Alone in the hospital bed, I had nothing to do but to ask questions:

  • Why was the bully allowed to behave this way?
  • Why did I deserve this bullying?
  • Why me?

One day I woke up and decided I was sick of being a victim. Lying alone in a hospital bed, in pain and far from friends and family, I realised my body was clearly telling me it was time to say “Enough is Enough.” In that moment, great clarity came over me. No longer was I prepared to be a victim of my own happiness.

From that moment, I made a commitment to myself to break my fear and leave. It was time not only to merely survive the workplace bullying and other forms of bullying, but also use it to thrive in the work environment.

A Road To Recovery

The day came when I had to make a decision, and I chose not to let the situation define my future.

It took me two years and a major anxiety attack that left me fearful for my life before I reached out to a psychologist. Seeking help from a psychologist, life coaches, spiritual teachers and audio books helped me heal the wounds. I went to work to create the life I deserve and went on a journey of self love and healing.

During my recovery, I discovered meditation, yoga, and Reiki energy healing, each of which helped me in its own unique way. Choosing any form of holistic healing helps you reconnect with yourself and clear out energy blockages that come from deeply buried emotions.

Spending time in nature also significantly helped me. I would journal in the park and find peace in the natural surroundings–watching my words flow onto the page.

Now looking back reading those journals I am in an extremely different head space. Doing that allowed me to express myself and release and surrender my thoughts to clear the chatter that filled my head.

Forgive Without Forgetting

Being on a journey of healing has shown me the option to either dwell on the past or learn from it. Unable to change the bully or hostile environment, the only hope was to change myself.

During the period of changing myself and actively participating in anti bullying, I found my saviour in the form of mindfulness. I needed to become the master of my own mind. To protect my energy and reflect any negativity without it affecting my self-worth, mindset and confidence.

Holding on to hate and hurt towards my bully was only going to make me continue being unhappy. Furthermore, holding onto anger and feeling disappointed by my company would only lower my expectations for future support to an all-time low.

I was not willing to walk away from the situation and abandon everything I achieved. I was also not prepared to have my judgement and expectations for future employment sabotaged. Most of all, I didn’t want to forget all the special people who helped me and shared fond memories with. 

There was a need to forgive without forgetting, and forgiveness for the hurt, pain, and upset is indeed a gift.

Eventually, I reached a point where I was grateful for the life lessons learned from my experience with bullying, which changed my mindset and nearly eliminated the fear that had restrained me for so long. By becoming more present, mindful, and accepting of my circumstances, I moved from being a ‘Survivor’ to a ‘Thriver.’

From Survivor to Thriver

Changing my mindset to move from survivor to thriver has been the best moment of my life.

Approaching each day with a positive mindset really helped, and still helps, me recover from bullying. It also allows me to enter a space of being able to understand that it happened for a reason.

I believe the reason I suffered the workplace bullying was for me to feel pain and suffering. This was something very foreign to me and in turn it allowed me to discover my life purpose, to help and empower others.

Now, I confidently speak the truth about my struggle with mental health during the dark times when I was being bullied. Still, I am always reflecting on how far I have come. Here I am today – the master of my own mind. Not living in fear, but owning my own identity and happiness.

Workplace bullying is REAL, and it’s not a small ‘dark corner’ either. It will take more than just one powerful female to break the silence, but empowering others will be worth every effort.

Whether a victim, CEO, leader or bully—it is time to wake up, face the issues and participate in prevention & change.

Today is another day to start something new and exciting. It’s time for a change. Break the Silence!

Bullyology® is passionate about raising awareness on the effects of bullying and helping people break the silence. If you would like to book us for a training course or speaking event, please get in touch.

Please share with like-minded colleagues who can benefit from our insights and get social with us.