Have you been bullied?

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HAVE YOU BEEN BULLIED? I have……..Warning this is a long post but please take the time to read and you may make a difference to someone’s life.

These days most people are unable to say they they have not either witnesses bullying, been bullied or know someone that has been bullied.  Its pretty sad that this is what our society has become.  I was bullied at school, and when I first started out in the workplace.  The difference today is we have social media which enlarges the issue.  When I was at school in the 80’s – early 90’s those that bullied me didn’t have the internet to spread it all over, it was confined to the playground (which was bad enough let me tell you).  Bullying can lead to a number of issues for the person being bullied either in the workplace or school or sports etc.  If someone is being bullied they can feel scared, stressed, anxious, depressed, lonely, lack confidence and the list goes on.

So what does bullying look like?

These are some of the signs to look out for, but not limited to this list:

  • repeated hurtful remarks or attacks, or making fun of the person and their ability.
  • sexual harassment, particularly stuff like unwelcome touching and sexually explicit comments and requests that make you uncomfortable
  • playing mind games, ganging up on the person, or other types of psychological harassment
  • intimidation (making the person feel less important and undervalued)
  • pushing, shoving, tripping, grabbing
  • attacking or threatening with equipment, knives, guns, clubs or any other type of object that can be turned into a weapon
  • initiation or hazing.

What you need to know if you are being bullied at work

You have the right to be in a safe workplace free from violence, harassment and bullying.  Over the years, I have been subjected to levels of bullying.  Most of which was in the first 5 years of my working career.  In some cases I never spoke up as I was scared to loose my job, scared what others would say, scared that I was overreacting.  With time I have realised this wasn’t right, and now have the skills to stand up to people when I see I am either being bullied or treated unfairly. Just to give you an idea of a couple of things  I have been subjected to:

  • Made feel uncomfortable by a Managers touchy feely behaviour including him positioning himself to look down my top.
  • Hand raised by my indirect Manager to slap me across the face as he didn’t agree with me on a matter.
  • Boobs grabbed at a work function by a Senior Manager.

My point in sharing this, is no one is safe from bullying as its the society we live in today (pretty sad I know).  But we need to be educating our workers, children etc on what is and isn’t acceptable and what actions can be taken so that it doesn’t happen again.

Steps to take if you are being bullied at work

  • Make sure you’re informed. Check to see if your workplace has a bullying policy and complaints procedure.
  • Keep a diary. Documenting everything that happens, including what you’ve done to try stopping it. This can help if you make a complaint.
  • Get support from someone you trust or contact support services.  Even if you don’t know anyone you can talk to, there are support services which are immediately available on government pages such as the humanrights.gov.au.
  • Approach the bully. If you feel safe and confident, you can approach the person who is bullying you and tell them that their behaviour is unwanted and not acceptable. If you are unsure how to approach them, you might be able to get advice from an appointed contact person, or from a colleague or manager.
  • Tell someone at your work. Your workplace will usually have a process for making a complaint and resolving disputes, which might include a warning, requiring the bully to have counselling, a mediation process, or even firing the bully if the situation continues. The person to talk to might be your supervisor/manager, a harassment contact officer, or a health and safety representative (if your work has one).
  • Get information and advice. If the bullying is serious, if the situation has not changed after complaining to your manager, or if there is not anyone you can safely talk to at work you can get outside information and advice.

We all have a moral responsibility to help create a positive, safe workplace.  If someone in your workplace is experiencing harassment or bullying, you can tell them about the steps they can take to solve it.

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